Sunday, September 6, 2015

Remember You Will Die and Other Facebook Tips

I once read a Star Trek novel in which Earthlings would print out the sections of the newspaper they were interested in and then recycle the paper afterwards. Isn't that adorable? That a writer way back in the 1980s couldn't imagine digital ink, personal tablets or reading your news on a computer.

Of course, the reality now is that Earthlings start their day by checking Facebook. I used to do it during breakfast, but well, pictures of abused animals and eating don't mix. Still, we log onto Facebook several times a day because everyone we know is on it. Then some of us log on to Twitter to complain about Facebook to our Twitter friends, most of whom we've never met in real life.

I've found few ways to make Facebook suck less.

Jen's Super Facebook Tip #1: Switch between Top Stories and Most Recent.
Whichever one you prefer, you're going to start seeing the same posts over and over again even though FB claims the average user has 1500 unread posts every time they log in. Switching it up helps. 

Jen's Super Facebook Tip #2: Comment and Like stuff you want to see more of.
If you're sick of seeing pictures of everyone's allegedly perfect children (photographed 3 minutes before a meltdown that will never be mentioned online), stop clicking Like just to be polite. FB will just show you more pictures of stepford children.

Want to see more posts about all the fun your friends are having while you're staying in because going out is just hellish? Comment on those posts. Not only will you see them more, but th human interaction will make FB a more pleasant place to hang out.

Jen's Super Facebook Tip #3: Tell Facebook who you love the best.
Your News Feed Preferences are right by your Settings. Click the little arrow at the top right of your screen (orange arrow) and select News Feed Preferences (red arrow).

Then select Prioritize Who You See First:

Then click on the people and pages you most want to see posts from. Do this for friends and the brands you actually want to hear from. You're missing coupon codes and whatnot from your favorite brands because FB would rather they paid to reach you.

This works unevenly. I sometimes miss the latest Bloom County comic even though I've told FB I wast to see Berkeley Breathed's updates first, but I see them more often than not.

Jen's Super Facebook Tip #4: Hide the hell out everything you don't want to see.
A lot of the stuff on FB we don't want to see was shared from another page. A friend shares a picture of an injured animal from a shelter's FB page. Ditto those pleas for dogs that will be put down if no one adopts them today. Double ditto for ill informed political rants. 

You can hide all that shit so you can still see posts from people that you don't mind - reports that it's snowing, talk about Star Wars, whatevs - without seeing the other stuff.

Every single FB post has a little arrow that will appear is you mouse over the top right of the post. When you click on the arrow this appears:

Now, I could Unfollow Angie, but I like Angie. I actually have no objection to Mommy Needs Vodka (a funny parenting blog) but let's pretend I do. So I hide all from Mommy Needs Vodka and I never see her stuff again, no matter who sends it.

Since I've bene doing this, I see less injured, abused animals and nothing at all from Fox News.

Let's say that I like Angie, but she only posts about conspiracy theories. Even her original posts are about her own conspiracy theories. But let's also say that Angie is a relative, who might be offended if I unfriend her on FB, and then there'd be a whole thing complete with conspiracy theory about why I unfriended her. In that case, I could select Unfollow Angie. We'd still be friends, but her posts would stop appearing in my News Feed.

Jen's Super Facebook Tip #5: Remember You Will Die
You totally will. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but someday. And what's gonna happen to your FB account?

These days, your loved one can turn your FB profile into a memorial page. Which makes it impossible for your friends to ask you for more Candy Crush lives. It was annoying to you in life, but imagine seeing the name of a dead friend pop up while you're playing a game. That has happened to me and it kinda sucks.

But worse - I had another friend who I mostly knew through fandom. She never announced online she had cancer, but I read between the lines of some posts and figured it out. And then she went offline for over a year. For months, I thought she was dead and no one had told her online fandom friends. Then she popped up on FB and announced she was in hospice. She even provided the necessary info for those who wanted to visit her. I didn't know her well enough to bother her during her last days, but I did thank her for letting us all know and wished her a smooth passage.

But what if she hadn't been able to do that? Plus, funeral info was hard to come by. Facebook has fixed all that. In your settings, select Security, then Legacy Contact.

Then you can select a FB friend to be your Legacy contact. This means they can download all your posts if anyone is so inclined. They also can post information about your passing to your page and pin that post so it appears on top and doesn't get lost in all the posts by your friends expressing their sadness at your passing.

You don't have to do this, but it's a good idea. The more time we spend online, the more people we know who will care that we've kicked it, but won't get a phone call or text because   you don't have any mutual friends. Doing this won't make FB suck less for you, but it will make it suck less for your loved ones, who you love.

What are your tips for making Facebook more pleasant?

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