Excuse me while I rant a bit. I'm a little irritated right now.
I thought I might waste a bit of my life trolling Facebook this evening. It's been a long week, I'm tired and it's a mindless bit of entertainment, right? It turns out that in some ways it was more of a waste than I expected it to be, not mindless at all and far less of a waste in the long run as I have had something of a moment of epiphany while doing so.
I've been on the Internet since before the Great Renaming. Yeah, that long. It was damn hard to get on the Internet back in those days, and I had to do more than a little wheedling and begging to get access. I had to do more to keep it after I graduated college. Back in those early days, the Internet was a more civilized place. This was mostly because the access was hard to come by and you didn't want to get yours yanked because you were a jerk.
Eventually I lost my access for a couple of years due to moves and the departure of friends from jobs where they could grant me access, but I regained it when our small but incredibly forward-thinking local telco started providing the first commercial access in our area, and I haven't been without since. I can remember when AOL--America On Line--became a thing and started hooking up every mouth breather, pimply faced kid in a basement and grandma who could insert a CD into a drive and type in a credit card number. All us old hands thought the end of the world was upon us.
In some ways it was. While the World Wide Web showed up and brought us a whole new way to consume content, early on we lost some things that us old farts really valued--news groups and discussion boards, or as many know them, forums or bulletin boards. The news groups were the first to go, the signal to noise ratio plunging to almost zero as millions of new people flooded in, asking the same 5 questions over and over and over again, usually in the wrong news group. Many tried to save them, resorting to things like moderation, but eventually, the tide won. I think the groups are still out there somewhere, but I can't bring myself to go look for them.
The forums were next. Even though the WWW gave them some really nice new interfaces, those same interfaces allowed the Mouth Breather Brigades to invade, reducing the quality of discourse to something below the level of 2 year olds in a sandbox. Over a span of years, I have left every forum I ever participated in except one. That one is so heavily moderated that it is almost useless for its stated purpose. We had to destroy the forum in order to save it as it were.
Blogs had a time where they brought a lot of hope, but they are slowly falling by the wayside. I know I don't blog as much as I used to because of reasons. Many others are like me in that regard. Others, such as Tam, have had to turn off comments because of stalkers, while some like Roberta X have disabled them for periods of time because commenters were being jerks. Others have simply given up and left the blogging world entirely because some other people decided to try and ruin their lives (Here's looking at you, Kim du Toit).
So here I was on Facebook tonight, looking at some posts and the comments on them by some folks who will remain unnamed but who are in large part professional gun folk. While a goodly portion of them (all Facebook friends of mine I'm happy to say) acted in mostly mature ways, others reverted to their inner child selves. In my personal opinion, their inner children needed a serious butt-whippen' and sent to bed without their suppers.
I think some, perhaps most, people are pathologically unable to behave well in non-face-to-face communication. I'm not sure why that is, although I'm fully aware of how difficult it is to communicate well in writing. We lose all visual ques and clues, and being primates, we are highly visually oriented. I don't know if people simply don't realize this or more likely simply don't care. Either way, they pretty promptly start acting like jerks.
One thing I have determined with surety after all these years is that I'm tired and increasingly intolerant of it. The Internet as a whole and Facebook in particular have the nasty habit of being incredible time sinks, and I'm going to do something about that. I am reclaiming a chunk of my life.
Facebook, prepared to be pruned. While I have maintained and will continue to maintain that there is a lot of worthwhile content on the Facebook platform, there is simply too much crap to tolerate any longer. Most of it comes from my "friends". Friends, prepare to be silenced. I won't unfriend you, but I am going to start unfollowing you en masse. That will allow the interesting things, such as historical interest pages and cat photos, to rise to the top. I won't be diverted by the drama, and if I feel the need to see what's going on in your life, I'll come look on your wall. I'm also going to use such tools as the platform provides to organize things into categories so that I can see what my family posts in a single place, rather than having to go hunt it down.
Facebook, you will change from being the master of my time to my servant, or the next step for you will be out the door. You've been warned.