Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 10, 2013

Facebooks threads into more than I expected

I was in college when this question popped up on my Facebook page.

By Lindsay Eckert
[friday] editor/ So long to social media

— “Lindsay, what’s on your mind?”

I immediately thought, “I’d have to be pretty self-centered to think my ‘Facebook friends’ would care about such an answer.” So, the section stayed blank on my profile for far longer than most. As the “status update” increased in popularity, so did my dismay at what people thought others should know about them: ailments, grocery shopping lists and passive aggressive song lyrics targeting the poster’s “It’s complicated” counterpart. Although my initial response to the Facebook-automated question was, “No, thank you.” I eventually fell into Facebook information overload as well. I kept it light mostly, posting quotes from “Peppermint Patty” at 4:30 a.m. (she deserves her own column, but shortly, she believed she was a WISH TV 8 informant. I used to work there.) Patty called with “breaking news” updates before “signing off for fear of being exposed.”

I’d also post pictures of vacations, moments with friends and sometimes movie quotes, nothing that truly contributed to anyone or anything. The more statuses I read, the more disgusted I became. So many times I’d say, “I can’t believe someone would post that.” Sometimes I actually avoided people I once enjoyed spending time with because of their Facebook alter egos. Also, I relied on Facebook to stay caught up with friends. It got to a place where commenting on a status was my sole way of communicating with them. When we actually did meet up in person, most sentences started with, “So, I saw on Facebook you were [insert destination here].” Or one of us would say, “Yeah, I saw [insert life experience here] on Facebook.” The content that filled that little box slowly devalued conversations to “been there, saw that” status.

In the meantime, some of the conversations I saw on Facebook just devalued humanity — maybe that’s strong wording — but it’s true. People were just crueler from the confines of their couch. So, I decided to deactivate Facebook for six weeks and then write about the experience. I was going to use the time to determine how my relationships strengthened without the social media narrative. I was going to write about how I got back to the basics of communication at its core: talking face to face. However, something cropped up during that time. I realized how many things were tied to my Facebook account. Next week I’ll talk about why I’m saying so long for good to the social media machine, but this week let’s discuss just how much I found Facebook to be ingrained in our phones, accounts and lives.

Lost phone numbers: After deactivating my account, I received text messages without names or pictures. I spent the following week asking, “Who are you?” to some of my closest friends. Since my phone was linked through my Facebook app, the pictures and names associated with the phone number were deactivated too.

Spotify: Little did I know, all my playlists were linked through my Facebook account. When I logged into Spotify, it automatically logged me into Facebook, interrupting my experiment timeline. Getting around the Facebook issue takes several steps; I haven’t been on Spotify for about six weeks either.

Kokomo Tribune comments section: The system KT uses for online comments is done through a Facebook account. I’m not able to reply to people posting comments. However, I also try to avoid the comment section altogether.

Why? See the above reference to online alter egos.

Phone app: When I first gave up Facebook, I would accidentally click on my app out of habit. When I went to delete the app, it was one of the few apps that requires a lengthy process to uninstall.

Source gathering: Facebook was my first stop for finding sources for feature stories. I’ve gotten more in tune to cold calls or emails to skip the Facebook avenue. Turns out, I can continue to communicate with some of these sources after the story has run, even without Facebook.

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