Zach Ware


According to Facebook a lot has happened since I last logged into Facebook. Strangely, I feel fine.

On a random Sunday a few months ago I decided to break a habit loop checking Twitter and Facebook obsessively. I had some deep thinking to do that day so I wanted to stay away from distractions.

The next day for the next two months I kept not checking it. I haven’t been to either site since some time in April.

I’ve done this before. I intentionally took a month off of social networks in January 2016 after reading Fooled By Randomness and realizing my entire life was about consuming bits of undistilled information. I did this by obsessively reading tech blogs, perpetuating a comparison bias that made me feel terrible about myself.

From there I developed an information habit that I explained in a post called We are addicted to now. I’ve kept that habit for well over a year.

But things changed in November 2016 around the time of the Presidential Election. Like most people, I started following the flashing lights related to Trump.

The periods of my life when I’ve been disconnected from Twitter and Facebook have some of my happiest periods. So when I accidentally started doing it again in April, I was quickly reminded of the decision’s impact.

I am happier today because I keep those things out of my life.

The most comical aspect of this experience has been Facebook’s reaction to it. It started behaving like a petulant child forced to sit in a corner. At a certain point, it realized it wasn’t getting its way and started screaming wildly to get my attention.

Facebook started sending me emails in an attempt to trigger FOMO. What I found most interesting is just how bad it was as selecting things I actually cared about.

I’ve received about 70 of these emails.

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All but about three of these notifications are about people I have never or rarely interacted with. A few I can’t specifically remember becoming Facebook friends with. Not once did it notify me of things shared by, for example, my best friend.

The one above is a photo notification from a friend’s wife who I have never met.

Then there are the summary FOMO emails. which come intermittently.

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A mild vote of confidence in Facebook’s interest algorithm can be seen in the the FOMO emails about things I’ve at least sent a reasonably recent signal (last four months) that I enjoy:

Screenshot 2017-06-03 15.01.56

I would show you how Twitter has reacted but poor little Twitter hasn’t sent me a single email.

It’s worth noting that my blog automatically publishes new post notifications to Twitter and sometimes Facebook. The fact that I broadcast to these platforms and don’t interact, even to see the responses, makes me a bit of a hypocrite. But worse things have happened.

Overall, I’m a happier person today than I was a few months ago.

And what’s most interesting is that I don’t feel disconnected from friends in the slightest. I didn’t expect to feel this way.

So what now? Well, like most things, specifically drinking which I stopped doing accidentally in 2015 and never started again, not even once, I may one day go back to it in some way. Who knows? But for now, I’m content with the way things are. My brain is more focused.

And I get to watch Facebook have a hissy fit.

First published on June 3, 2017