I’m trying to figure out how to use Facebook non-narcassitically. I feel like a large part of what I’ve recently posted has been too “look-at-me” and shallow…

I think Facebook is a tool, and, aside from logistical stuff like event planning, it’s best used to share beautiful, mutually beneficial, and inspiring things: meaningful photos, art, yet-to-be-answers questions, postulates, etc. 

Too often, though, I use it to as a naive way to satisfy a craving for self-affirmation and an outlet for pride. I find myself taking place in idle and increasingly boastful conversation, and that’s bad. Really, if I think about it, most of the time I’m just talking to myself, since what I post usually doesn’t get anyone thinking; any interaction those empty posts provoke might as well be scripted.

What it comes down to is this: this type of participation doesn’t help anyone – both me, the producer, or my readers – be any happier or more content with life.

Certain features of Facebook promote this type of behavior, too. For instance, the Facebook newsfeed aggregates information using really crude heuristics. Those heuristics aren’t disclosed, but it’s pretty obvious that things like ‘comment’ and 'like’ count account for what makes it past the popularity filter and what doesn’t.

Well, I’d argue that vapid content is more often liked and commented on than rich content, due to the circle-jerk nature of the internet and our need for instant gratification. It happens, and it’s not really anyone-in-specific’s fault, but what it results in is a lot of rambling and not a lot of conversation on quality content. When you log onto Facebook, you’re presented with a wall of nothingness.

What’s more is, I’m not sure Facebook is really looking to address this issue. People participating in the endless search for instant-gratification means more traffic for them, where-as a system designed to promote thought and evoke complex emotion, is slower in nature. When you’re stricter on you’re standards of quality, your rate of production slows, because it’s difficult to produce. Subsequently, if content is richer, it’s more likely to be of a higher density as well, and thus harder to consume.

A solution, assuming my conjectured opinion on Facebook being disinterested is wrong, might be kind of what Google did with circles, but perhaps implemented differently. This isn’t a new idea and i’m not trying to take credit for it, but: if there were a way to easily focus content toward a select group of people, I think you could exchange some of the overwhelming noise for depth and interest. If I could use Facebook as both a hub for identity (a profile) and a way for precise focused communication (as opposed to the current broadcast oriented model), without the distraction of everything else, I’d consider that a step in the right direction.

On the other side of things, there’s also a requirement for discipline on my end. I’m the arbiter of my Facebook production and consumption. Facebook may not be ideal, but wishing for an ideal tool is somewhat pointless and indicative of laziness*. Perhaps the best way to use Facebook is to stop endlessly checking and updating it, and instead filter things from behind the keyboard.

*While wishing for ideal tools is pointless, building ideal tools is very much the opposite. But that’s another story…