I have had Facebook since the way-too-early age of 11 (soon after my older sister made an account I was allowed to as well). My first profile pictures were selfies taken with a digital camera in the bathroom mirror, edited after with stickers and a sepia filter. Over the last few years, Facebook has undergone multiple transformations (for better and for worse). In the beginning, it was about ‘poking’ your friends and writing on each other’s walls about funny things that happened in school that day. As I and the website got older my feed became to be filled with photo albums (“Camping 18/07/10”) and life updates (“Got new bangs <3”). And while these posts are sometimes cringe-worthy to look back on, I do miss the old days of Facebook.
I did a quick content analysis of my Facebook newsfeed by counting the posts I saw and sorting them into three general categories. First: personal updates; things the people I am friends create and share (travel photos, life updates, etc.). Second is pages I follow, such as my university’s newspaper or a band posting a new music video. The las category is what I would call “viral content”. This is typically photos (memes, inspiring quotes) and videos (from popular creators such as Tasty and NowThis) that are not made by anyone I am friends with but appear on my feed as people share, like, and comment on them. Here is how much of my newsfeed was dedicated to each category:
This is not an argument against sharing popular photos and videos with friends, but is more of me sharing my opinion that I miss being able to actually keep up with friends on Facebook. Viral content can be funny, informative, and uplifting, but I think that it should be separate from the personal updates on Facebook. While it is funny to tag friends in posts that remind you of them or to share an inspiring video, these things can add clutter and noise to a platform that used to be much more intimate and social.
Instagram, by contrast, does not include the posts others have liked or commented on in your newsfeed, giving users more control over the content that they see on their homepage (minus the occasional ad). The Instagram explore page allows you to discover new pages to follow, and you can see what other’s have liked on the “Following” page. I prefer this format as I can fine tune the accounts I follow so my feed is not full of the ‘viral content’ that plagues Facebook. Instagram is also used more regularly by my age/friend to post about personal updates, whereas Facebook seems to have become a new version of Pinterest or Tumblr (where most people curate content instead of creating it).
Of course, these are just my opinions and while I may want a more ‘authentic’ social media (is that an oxymoron?) experience, others may like the current way things are. That being said, here are some tips to refine your social media experience to be more ‘old school’:
Facebook: Unfollow (not unfriend) people who often share viral content, you will remain friends with them but won’t see the things they post. You can also edit your friends list and take out people whom you haven’t seen since middle school or never really liked that much anyway (I edit my friends list twice a year).
Instagram: Start by going through the pages you follow and unfollowing any accounts that you don’t know personally (of course, you don’t need to only follow people you know but I removing the more impersonal/spammy content from your feed can help declutter it). If you want to avoid the endless scrolling on the explore page, try viewing Instagram in the web browser on your phone (it suggests pages on the explore page instead of showing popular posts).
Twitter: I don’t have a Twitter account and honestly have no idea it works.
To summarize, I don’t hate Facebook (it’s still very helpful for groups, events, and messages) but I do wish that there was a way to filter out impersonal content. Facebook is, of course, just a website that I can choose to stop using at anytime. I just wanted to write about my opinions on the changing of the social media newsfeed. This is simply something I’ve been thinking about recently and wanted to share! If you have an opinion on this subject feel free to share it below!
Until next time,