Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Facebook's uncanny ability to convert information into aggravation

There's a lot said about Facebook and its negative effect on mental health.

While I generally resist the whole effort to drum up sympathy, benefit of the doubt, or funding, by classifying everything under the sun as a mental health issue, I do observe the following about my own experience:

  • Almost everything is designed to make an impression or provoke a reaction. There's very little that is designed to inform or educate.

  • Some news sources over-represent crime stories. Some are trivial crime stories but the overall tone is negatively-leading and foreboding. I don't know if this is driven by a decline in serious local news reporting, police wanting to use social media to get the word out, or both, but it leaves an impression that society is becoming a worse place in general and it's an impression that noticeably peaked after following certain local news sources.

  • I like backcountry camping. I joined a backcountry camping group. What do I see? People trampling over the backcountry (sometimes quite proudly). People enquiring about how they may better trample. Interest in trampling on unregulated land. Trucks loaded up with gear whose noise and smell somehow traverse my computer screen. Technology brought into the backcountry to document the trampling. The occasional decent photo that in no way does justice to the experience, just like the cameras block my view at the last concert I went to. And somehow it occupies a less peaceful place in my mind than it used to and makes me feel guilty about participating.

  • I follow my local library. There's often some interesting information but there has also been regular promotion of this novel idea of hairy men in drag reading stories to young children. Fair enough - it's grotty, but that ship has sailed - however, to me it's flotsam and Facebook isn't flexible enough to filter within a source.
The one redeeming quality is to keep abreast of what's going on with family and friends. Depending on what they post, of course. It can go either way.

It's very possible that Facebook makes you feel worse because it shows the world as it really is, rather than how you thought it was. Or maybe not. If life imitates art then we are in serious trouble. But it's devoid of breathing space and it does not encourage thoughtfulness or consideration. I feel sorry for anyone who relies on this platform as a source to passively consume information.