I hate Facebook but I still use it because I'm trapped

I hate Facebook but I still use it because I'm trapped

CultureJanuary 19, 2018 By Reilly Capps

Facebook makes my life miserable, but I check it four times a day. I loathe Mark Zuckerberg's asperger ass, but I can't leave.

At this point, not using Facebook is like not using a telephone. Facebook is a way to find people, from business contacts to hookup prospects. It's how people send out invites to birthday parties, fundraisers, protests and orgies (I'm told).

My main emotion is jealousy.

Everyone's car seems nicer than mine, their pets more loving, their parties crazier. At any given time, one of my 1,200 friends is on vacation, usually in Borneo or the Swiss Alps. Every day, I'm thinking, "Why am I in my desk instead of skydiving in Chile?" Forgetting that I like my job, and that the other 1,199 friends not currently scuba diving in the Seychelles are hunkered over keyboards scrolling jealously through Facebook, too. 

On Facebook my friends are "falsely jolly, fake-friendly, self-promoting, slickly disingenuous," as Zadie Smith wrote. I'll get jealous of friends who post about how smart they are and how adorable their babies are, when I know for a FACT that many of them are lovable dimwits and their babies, in real life, are kind of ugly. They're friends with ME — why would they be perfect?

Facebook allows us one emotion: like. Do you like this? Do you like this? That's how toddlers express themselves. "I like milk. I like cars." Adults have complex emotions, we feel torn, we're wish people would die, we reserve judgment. "Like" is the aspergers approach to the world, the Zuckerberg way. "I like trains. I like mountains." As a people, we are more interesting than Facebook. We deserve better. 

The people who really know it think it's doing worse than making me envious. It's "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works," said one early executive. It's "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology," said another. Facebook is "reprogramming us with bad code." 

"Everyone hates Facebook but we can't leave," wrote Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post, noting that 94 percent of teens are on Facebook but it it tends to make them miserable. 

You can't leave the Yellow Pages. You can't leave High School. You can't leave Facebook. Because what if you finally get that group sex invite? 

The main thing you can do is bend it to your will. 

Here is how I make Facebook bearable: I don't use it the way Zuckerberg wants me to.

All of my 1,200 friends are hidden from my news feed. This took a while. I had to manually click the dropdown menu on everybody's posts when they appeared, and click "hide." When I open Facebook, it's just a blank screen. Like this: 

I had to be ruthless about it. I hid not just the annoying middle school friend re-posting Russian propaganda, but my brother, who posts pictures of himself and my beloved, strong, clever nieces whose pictures brings me to tears of joy and … sorry. Carried away there. My point is, you have to have iron resolve.

With a hidden newsfeed, I can still find people, can still message anybody I want to, and I can go see the nieces in real life. 

There are lots of other tools to help you wrangle Facebook to the ground and sit on it. 

Facebook used to have a couple tools to "organize" your feed, to filter out the friends that make you the jealous-est, but Facebook employees — the sneaky, autistic, anti-social bastards — have removed them. Facebook does a lot to make sure their product is harder to control. 

So you're left with third-party apps. Turns out, there's a Chrome extension that automatically hides your entire news feed, doing in a few clicks what took me hours. News Feed Eradicator for Facebook replaces all those posts with one single inspirational quote. Social Fixer is less nuclear, and just helps filter your news feed. You can tell it to block politics, sponsored posts and certain keywords ("Trump" is obviously the first you'd add, followed by "Hillary" and "bitcoin"). 

Because my lazy, procrastinating brain forgets what my sober, disciplined brain wants, I also bought a label maker and printed out the following words and pasted them below my monitor, as general reminder: 

In the end, getting off Facebook as much as you can is worth it. My jealousy has reached less blood-boiling levels. I remember more often that I like my own life.

Start today. You don't have to hide everyone. Just start with the five most annoying people, and then the five people you're most jealous of. I promise your life will be better.

[Photo by Campbell Boulanger on Unsplash]