Some people think of Facebook as a time-suck. I am not one of those people. I use Facebook to make myself smarter. I think of it as my own personal "Lumosity", except that it doesn't rely on the "science of neuroplasticity", which is definitely a thing, by the way, according to some of my Facebook friends. Instead, it utilizes a nifty algorithm designed to enhance the Facebook experience. I made it myself, and I call it the "Facebook News Feed Hack", or "Feed-Hack" for brevity.
The Feed-Hack arose out of the premise that one's News Feed begins as nothing more than a disorganized blob of news and opinion. Each of us must act as our Feed's Editor-in-Chief, lest we run the risk of information overload, or worse, feeling contemptuous towards our Facebook friends. I like to think of myself as my Feed's own personal "Arianna Huffington", culling the most intelligent, interesting, earnest and witty takes on current events, politics, life and style, wellness, and entertainment.
But editing is tricky when it's your friends providing the content. I love my Facebook friends -- from a healthy distance, at least -- but I don't love to scroll through hundreds of photos of the very same snowstorm that kept me inside all weekend. And I don't think I should have to click "like" just to prove that I'm not actually in favor of cancer. Defriending isn't an option with which I am comfortable. It's hostile, and it' s not the way people deal with conflicts in the real world. Defriending on Facebook is the real life equivalent of ending a real life friendship via phone blast to everyone you know.
As an alternative, the Feed-Hack makes efficient use of an under-utilized right that Mark Zuckerberg granted to each and every one of us at Facebook's inception. And that is the right to "unfollow". There's a button for that. If you don't know where it is, you can inquire about it in a status update. Of course, that could get you unfollowed, at least by me. Look, only you can know what and whom you wish to edit off of your News Feed. But here are some of the factors that I use in my own personal algorithm:
Melodrama of any kind is simply too distracting to belong an intelligent News Feed. If you don't know melodrama when you see it, then think about that Facebook friend who repeatedly threatens to quit Facebook forever. That is melodrama, and it's grounds for unfollowing.
You know those posts that begin with, "I am doing a purge of my Facebook friends," or "I'm conducting an experiment to see how many of my friends really read my postings"? They usually end by demanding that to avoid being defriended, one must "click like, click share, tag me and add a word that only I understand". It's that last bit that gets me. You see, I like words, and so I find myself thinking of words and wanting to post one. Instead, I unfollow and hope that my friend is just being melodramatic.
3. Science Bashing
Although I'm not a member of the "I Fucking Love Science" Facebook group, I respect science, nevertheless. So much so that I find it distracting to have my otherwise rational News Feed interrupted by people who have neither the education nor experience to warn others that "the medical community doesn't want you to know that anyone can cure their cancer if only they would eat lots of ginger, turmeric, grapefruit or [insert food of choice]." I've found that disagreeing isn't an efficient use of my Facebook time since no one on Facebook ever admits they are wrong; at best, they just stop replying. Unfollowing saves me time and also hides the fact that some of my friends can be kind of stupid sometimes.
Yes, friends, I know that have taken my share of selfies over the years. But lately I'm bothered by something: it's always the same face in the photo, and that face keeps getting older. Since I can hardly tolerate my own selfies anymore, is it fair to ask me to scroll through dozens of yours every single day before getting to the day's important news? If you notice that I am not one of the people who clicks "like" when you post a selfie, please do not consider it an insult. It is simply a reflection of the fact that I have unfollowed you until such time as your seemingly endless fascination with your own face begins to recede.
5. Stealth Bombing
So, you know that old trick where you recruit costars for your selfies so that they won't seem so very selfie-like? So do I, and they still count as selfies. They're stealth-selfies. Or "stealthies". When you realize that my failure to "like" your stealthies means that I have unfollowed you, please take it as a compliment: I like you and do not want to think of you as someone who would exploit your dying grandmother, your Labradoodle or that friend of yours who's too polite to object when you offer to take a photo of her but then stick your own face in it. Also, it's difficult for me to absorb the day's news from my News Feed when I'm making a cringe-face.
6. Jocks Rap
Everything I know about sports I learn from my News Feed. If all you can come up with is "Go [insert name of team here]!", then I'm going to have to unfollow you to make room for more value-added jocks-rap - like who's been suspended for doping and which coach has been accused of which impropriety.
7. RIP [Insert Name Of Dead Celebrity Here]
I already know that [Dead Celebrity] died. You see, everyone knows. If you insist on cluttering my Newsfeed with "RIP [dead celeb]," without providing so much as a link to a news story, photo or personal insight, then it makes me think you're not good at hiding your efforts to get "likes". More importantly, the frequency of untimely celebrity deaths and my impatience with scrolling through all those "RIP" posts mandates unfollowing.
8. American Beauty
I don't mind if you don't share my political views; my News Feed is non-partisan. However, my News Feed has a strict policy against misogyny. As Editor-in-Chief, I reserve the right to unfollow anyone who berates Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama or even Michele Bachmann on the basis of her appearance.
Note: this does not apply to Chris Christie, who is not female. Also, I really enjoy those Christie-memes that conflate "bridge" and "fridge".
9. I Hope It Tasted Better Than It Photographed
If you cooked something, and you want to take a photo of it, fantastic. But if the photo makes your lasagna look like vomit, then please do not put it out there. It is disturbing and distracting and grounds for unfollowing.
10. Doctor My Eyes
I have a perfectly normal, totally not out-of-the ordinary, not at all worrisome fear of the dentist. So, please understand that photos of you in the dentist chair upset me, and when you post them, I might be tempted to unfollow you. That temptation becomes almost insurmountable if I think that it's only a matter of time before a photo of you in a paper gown and stirrups pops up on my Feed. I can't take that chance, Facebook friend. I'm sure you understand.
Anyone who posts a disclaimer to the effect that "Facebook does not own my shit" will be unfollowed, no questions asked. Like it or not, the way things stand currently, anyone can copy anything you post and forward it forever and ever to infinity. It may be embarrassing. It may be wrong. It may even give rise to a legal action if it's embarrassing and wrong enough. But your disclaimed utterly futile, and, for God's sake, I've told you this how many times? I'm left to wonder -- are you dense? And please understand, I like you too much as a Facebook friend to ever want to to think of you as dense.
Feed-Hack: Build Your Own Personalized Program, Utilizing the Science of Unfollowing. Facebook friends, you're welcome.