Cleaning up the news feed: making Facebook work for ME.

First off, I’ll remind us that I spend All Day On The Internet. All caps. It’s a “short attention span for real work” sort of thing, coupled with a genuine Love and Affection for Al Gore’s Brain Child.

So.

Realized the other day that it seemed like my Facebook (and, to a similar extent, Twitter) feed had become nothing but one big, loud, obnoxious, never-ending advertisement for crap I don’t need. Realized, concurrently, that I’d been the maestro of my own irritation, orchestrating a series of “likes” and “subscriptions” and “follow” mouse-clicks that meant my day was spent scrolling through nothing but advertisements for junk hucked at me by companies I’d rather just left me alone.

Anyone who’s ever “liked” a store at which they shop or a product they buy and then immediately regretted that the company actually posts annoying stuff with much regularity will relate to the chagrin: it was beginning to feel like my online life was nothing but a collection of commercials. And no one likes commercials.

Unless they’re Dos Equis commercials. Or, if you’re Mr Wonderful, the “free credit score dot com, dot com” commercials, EVEN THOUGH the jingle gets stuck in his head for days. Especially at night when we’re trying to sleep.

Anyway.

Sure, I “liked” Jiffy Lube to get a $5 discount, but I don’t really want to hear what they have to say about winterizing my car when I fire up Facebook in the morning.

Yep, I “liked” that steakhouse downtown because they had a free dinner giveaway once (a dinner that costs most of a pay check, actually), but I don’t really care to read about their whiskey-tasting dinners and their famous guests chefs when all I really want is to cruise through pictures of actual friends’ weddings and pregnant bellies.

Maybe I “like” that tanning salon, but would they PLEASE stop posting pictures of bikini-clad girls in lots of jewelry asking fans to “Yea” or “Nay” whether or not layered necklaces are a “must” when poolside this summer – ???

And yeah, I “like” that cheap chain clothing store that cranks out chintzy junk made by Chinese slave labor, but I don’t care that they just slashed clearance prices on their website and I don’t care that they want to re-direct me to this month’s “Elle” magazine to see the many ways I can copy designer looks for less. And I don’t have Homecoming anything on the horizon (this should be telling me something about their target demographic. And it ain’t me).

Yes, I “like” the expensive department store, but that doesn’t mean it helps my “buy things” compulsion to have $9700 dresses appearing in the news feed as though any REAL people (read: people who do not appear on any television programming on the Bravo network) would ever buy a Lanvin for ten grand just because Facebook showed it to them. Now when they finally get the full line of Tom Ford cosmetics, then maybe I’ll……..NO. No, I’m not a masochist.

And I couldn’t even tell you why I “liked” that particular film studio, in the first place. All they produce are violence-heavy, dude-magnet action flicks. Wait — actually, I love those.

Where were the “friends” in my “social networks?” Don’t real PEOPLE use these sites anymore? Why am I constantly sifting through the songs they just listened to on Spotify? Why do I care that so-and-so likes Tide detergent?

Life on the webertubes was becoming like commercial radio — you think you stop by to hear some peppy summer hip-hop, you end up dodging “Ovation Cell Therapy” commercials and Nothing But Katy Perry.

It’s a wasteland.

Because I allowed it to be.

Cue moment of clarity.

I created this mess, I can unsubscribe myself from this mess.

Sort of like when I purged my email of ALL junk mail a year ago. If it wasn’t from a person, I unsubscribed. It gradually seeps back in, the junk, but at least I had a baseline. For a few good months, my phone wasn’t full of 18 junk emails when I checked it in the morning. If I could do that, I could do the same with Facebook, right?

So I did.

And, because most of the rest of us are deluged with crap we “like” and songs we played (or skipped), it was a little…..desolate out there, once I whittled the noise down to just friends and family. So, I started adding back to the mix. Rather than overloading myself with sales pitches, I chose to follow sites that I actually visit and respect. Blogs and organizations that add something positive to the online conversation. The equivalent of choosing to eat at a restaurant I really ENJOY during a lunch break instead of filling up on beef jerky and diet coke from the drug store down the block from the office.

(But no one else does that, do they…..? Those little “Cocktail Pep’s” are so good when you need a salty, greasy, mid-afternoon protein fix……. And at least I weaned myself from the Sour Patch Kids…..THAT must deserve a pat on the back…? Heather, you’re gross.).

Anyway — I’ve realized that it sort of restored my faith in the webernet to make a more focused decision about my online diet. Less Oberto, more parsley. Less candy, more grapefruit. All of a sudden, the world is a brighter, more optimistic place.

I need more optimism these days. I hate my day job (even while it provides ridiculous amounts of time for You Tube and celebrity gossip…..). I’m frustrated with the current political dialogue. I don’t get nearly enough sleep. There are 11 pounds more of me to love than I’d prefer, say my jeans. The wedding planning is a massive undertaking for which Mr Wonderful and I are woefully under-prepared. I’d love a vacation. BUT. But! In the midst of that, I can remind myself that there are smart people out there, saying smart things about important topics in ways that are accessible to massive numbers of people.

It’s just our job to go find it.