Blog of Sara Jakša

My Facebook Experiment

I still remember the first time, I have heard a bit more about Facebook and I started to think, if I want to join. I was in the Faculty of Arts, waiting for my Japanese lessons. So that means that I was in high school, my second or third year, which would make this somewhere around 2007-2009-time span. I was listening to two people talking next to me, because for somebody that was socially awkward, the listening to other people's conversation became a way I got information.

One person was explaining to the other, how Facebook was forcing her to invite more people there, if she wanted to continue playing games or reach new levels in the games. I am not sure about the details, but it was that something about the games was blocked, and she would need to invite people to join Facebook to unblock it. Or something like that. I am not that sure, I have no idea how games at any point of time looked on Facebook.

Either way, I remember thinking that this was way too manipulative, and this is the impression that I got stuck of since then. So, every time people wanted to convince me of the good parts of Facebook, inside my head I was always thinking: "Balancing this with the manipulativeness, which one wins?".

It is actually really interesting, that I noticed this years ago, and now it is a hot topics, with people like Cal Newport or Tristan Harris and others talk about the manipulativeness of technologies, and how some of them are designed to be the slot machines.

But eventually I did create it, even if for only one reason, most, if not all, group work for my Cognitive Science degree happened there. But this use was not using it for months, then logging on for couple of days to do the group work, and again not logging for months. It was interesting seeing, that simply because I was on Facebook, some people expected me to see what was going on there (I did not, since one would need to log on them), sometimes even though they would post it like less than a day ago, in one case, less than 3 hours ago.

So then, when I was in Bratislava with my classmates, and since I am interested in how the technology affect people, to see if there is anything up with this and I decided to try to use it more frequently, like a couple of times per day. The quick results, I still don't know why it is so popular.

I managed to be more social with my classmates because of this. For example, I would miss many pink pong games with my classmates, while we were discussing things, if not for Facebook. I would also miss company on the way to class. I would not know where to go to the regular weekly Cognitive Beers, as we called them. So as far as being social, it was helpful.

But the conversations of Facebook way to frequently degenerated in to random gifs postings or something similar. What I learned was, if I don't want to goof off with other people, I should not be using Facebook but for the simplest inquires. And while I don't generally mind that from time to time in real life, it is way too stale and repetitive on Facebook. I would get more relaxation out of watching a humorous show or even reading fanfiction. So, I don't really understand why people think this is a valid communication channel. Unless they don't mind degeneration.

The rest of the Facebook tools ended up being useless. I am pretty sure, that I did not use the event finding on Facebook correctly. It did not give any good recommendations (possibly, because I did not know how to find them) and it was hard to navigate. I have it under suspicion, that events were regulated with the algorithm, but I have no proof. But I have no reason to learn how to use it, since I get, for my introverted nature, more than a bare minimum of events that I need through social channels and meetup. I also don't want to learn how to use it more effectively. I would prefer to learn something a bit more fun, like some new languages, or personality theory.

For the last part, I don't get why people scroll on their feed. I know that mine was completely boring. I also saw some of the feeds of others, and while they were a bit better, they were still stale. So, I don't even get, why something so mindless is considered an addictive problem. Especially because it is framed as an escape from boredom. But I don't get how something boring can be an escape from boredom. If there is some other reason, then I could get it, but this is how it is normally framed.

Also, the one thing that I really hated about it, is that I could started to notice the compulsion to check Facebook. And the fact, that some of my mental energy was dedicated to this, instead to the more productive form, was something that annoyed me to no end. Anything would be more productive than this, but I will take daydreaming any day. I am not sure which factor was responsible for this, but it did happen, and I hated it.

On the end, I am now again not logging on Facebook and I am looking forward to the day, when I am going to pass all my classes, when I can delete it. I could see how socialization can be improved by regularly using it, but the negative effect on my mind is something that I cannot tolerate, so I don't think that I will ever again become a regular user ever again. But I can see, that for somebody that values socialization about their mind, being there would be a good use of their time. But for me, they are being too manipulative in their wish for my mental space, just as I guessed around 10 years ago.