Ready, steady, go…and all the things she said…on social media

That’s virtual Matty Healy.

Here’s my Facebook cleanse for anyone who wants to follow. Consult your doctor before engaging. Individual results will vary.

1. FB associates

I’ve honed my FB down to a science. I started out by getting rid of the polite FB friendships…people whose only connections to me were that we went to high school together. I went from around 1000 people to less than 300. And that is where I keep it. Only the healthy essentials and some fun indulgences thrown in for moderation.

But more importantly, I flushed out the egotistical dissenters…the guys who pounce on grammatical errors, the bullies who will shout you down and the “actually” crowd who just need to be right. I didn’t unfriend them. I let them unfriend me. I let everyone know what I would tolerate and what I wouldn’t. Respectful discussion yes, irrational arguments and Dick measuring contests no.

I’ve had to unfriend a few people every once in a while. But they’re warned first. They know what my tolerance level for chicanery is. The unexpected side effect of this is that my friends can speak with candor on my posts without fear of reprisal. And I don’t have to jump in and save them from the occasional dumb attack because they can hold their own. Those are the people you want to be friends with.

And I unfollow some of the friends I do have. They’re great to interact with but I don’t need their posts taking up space on my feed. I don’t follow some of my bestest friends. I don’t need to. If they want to bring something to my attention, they know how to find me.

2. Facebook sources

I started curating the news sources I read. I didn’t want to live in an angry liberal echo chamber. I wanted dispassionate sources from all over the world so I could triangulate the truth. It isn’t enough to just follow American news sources about American news. I learned this from the 2016 election. My friends in other countries promised me that Trump would win. I told them they were crazy. “Just look at those polls!”

I was wrong. But so was the whole world media after WWI when they didn’t report on the flu epidemic coming out of France. The Spanish did, and they got smacked with the credit for the whole thing.

I did an experiment. I started a second FB account with all the leftist news sources. And I purged them from my main account. I’d go back and forth and see what the vibe was. I quickly realized that my sanity and mental capacity were preserved by staying away from articles by incensed lefties.

Vitriol was the last thing I needed in my life. Liberals love being let down by their heroes. They love to say, “I told you so.” And I can’t stand a purity contest. It’s the same with dudes who see a girl wearing a shirt from their favorite band. “Oh yeah, you like Nirvana? What are your three favorite tracks? And they can’t have gotten radio play and they must only have been released in Japan.”

Fuck to the no.

3. Facebook conditioning

I wanted to explore my writing voice and I needed a captive audience. FB was perfect. But I needed to teach people how to be my audience. I didn’t want needless likes and comments of , “Are you ok?”

I needed to feel uncensored. The stuff I was writing was mostly true. Maybe 5% exaggeration. But I grew up with two narcissists who guarded their cultivated identities so closely that I associated the truth with shame. All the time. And that had to stop.

So every few months or so I posted something like this:

People complied. I stopped getting as many likes overall, but the likes I did get were genuine and not the reciprocal likes everyone gives one another so everyone looks popular.

It was basically a data set that was testable. I couldn’t see the engagement, but I learned how to get feedback that would show they were reading. All I had to do was put a quote in a post to evoke this audience. Or some lyrics and that audience would respond.

But mostly, it was in person comments. People started saying they “read” me. They “followed” me. And when I’d be telling a story over lunch about something that happened…they already knew what had happened because they keep up daily.

Not everyone can do this. People with real jobs and needs for discretion wouldn’t be able to get away with what I do. But I found that my audience…partially comprised of adults who knew me as a child, some of who me were my teachers…self-censor. They read the first couple of lines and then they determine whether they want to keep going. It’s a self-policing audience.

I haven’t gotten unfriended by any of those people. If anything, people who thought they knew me now actually know me. In a social sphere where people put their best face on for everyone to be jealous of, I gained people’s trust and respect by showing my ass instead of my face. Figuratively, of course.

Conclusion:

So now I have a safe space to write and read and interact. It wasn’t intentional. Just necessary. Allowing myself to be vulnerable and wrong has been essential to my growth as a writer and performer, but mostly as a human. And those things are inextricably linked.

I don’t have it all figured out. I’m just trying and then adjusting as I learn. People know they can correct me when I’m wrong. I won’t just acknowledge it, I’ll thank them.

The difference I see is mainly this: my friends’ posts have more likes. And more discussion. But it’s not better. It’s just more. And it’s mostly noise. I believe in the marketplace of ideas approach to free speech. But its Achilles’ heel is that noise will overwhelm the system and make it harder to tell truth from fiction.

I don’t allow for noise pollution on my FB page.

P.S.:

I don’t have a need to be liked or popular. And when I do want to explore that side of me, I use Instagram. Even on Instagram though, I have rules. The filters aren’t there for my vanity. They’re there for entertainment’s sake. I also use filters because I’m subliminally communicating that the things I post there are not reality. They are not to be taken seriously. I am not to be taken seriously.

That’s what this blog is for.

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