How I’m using Facebook these days

Earlier in the year, I wrote about getting louder and how I hadn’t really been active on Facebook very much in the past few years.

Even though I was one of the platform’s earliest adopters, I’m no longer a fan of a system that routinely invites so much personal abuse and harassment into the lives of its users. And I’m not talking about anonymous trolls, or politically-motivated hackers. I’m talking about the bad actors in our lives who want to damage our personal and professional relationships.

My personal experience on the site, while nowhere near as traumatic as many people—especially for many women, and very especially many women of color—has me questioning what we think we’re getting out of the bargain. Yes, I love the handful of private groups I’m in, and I recognize that the organizers of those groups wouldn’t be motivated to pay for similar features on paid platforms. 

However, when it comes to posting anything remotely personal there, even the most harmless information ends up getting “used against me” again and again. (To be clear, none of this is rational behavior, but it’s what I’ve had to deal with for most of the past 20 years.)

When Jay died a few weeks ago, I spent a lot more time on Facebook than I usually do. I reconnected with some folks I haven’t spoken with in years, and I even shared a few external posts, the way I usually do on Twitter. But even so, I still have to post with a bunch of blocks and restrictions to keep a handful of people from resurfacing in my life.

And it says something that people who seem so invested in tearing me down, people who were once close to me, only act up on Facebook where they can cause problems in front of other people who are close to me. On Twitter, on LinkedIn, and in professional media, those folks are nowhere to be found. 

To the extent that “you HAVE to be on Facebook” is one of those mantras for anyone involved in media or creative work in 2019, I put that to the test in April. I ended my “let’s not pay Facebook a dime” experiment early, since Facebook appeared to be the most efficient way to reach the audience to whom I wanted to appeal. Whether my heart wasn’t really in it, whether the creative wasn’t good, or whether I hadn’t properly validated the underlying idea in the marketplace, the campaign failed. I could have stuck to my guns and it wouldn’t have made any difference.

So, as I work hard to launch Podcast Taxi this fall, you’ll notice I’m back to “not being on Facebook.” My Messenger alerts are muted—if you want to talk to me, you’ll have to just call or e-mail like the old times. I can’t afford to spend time on a platform that doesn’t shield me from abusers and doesn’t help me stay focused on the people I truly care about.

I’ll still repost my personal blog posts and other announcements on my author page. And news about Podcast Taxi will still surface on our company page. After all, Facebook IS the internet for far too many people. But all of those posts will contain invitations to join me back here at my own platform, where I’m not too worried about scale and I only want to interact with people I like.

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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