The Facebook Conumdrum

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Facebook.  I haven't heard from some of my friends for two months. I left Facebook and now it's out of sight, out of mind.  I find myself hovering over Kevin when he has Facebook up on his iPad, desperate to know if anything is interesting is going on.  I have that worry that if I try to contact friends some other way I'll be bothering them and making them go out of their way.  Besides, without my being on Facebook, we have nothing to talk about.

Knowing I still want to know what's happening on FB is a sign of my addiction.  I'm like an alcoholic trying to just get a little drop. As badly as I want to be back in the fray, I know it's not good for me.

Then again, this whole data scandal makes me glad I am staying away.  Do I really want to be the victim of having my personal data sold?

Who am I kidding?  Facebook has been monitoring my use, collecting my data, and selling it long before I left.  All of this Cambridge Analytica stuff went down over a year ago.  The algorithms at Facebook have been curating my feed for years.  Every site I ever browsed became an ad on Facebook.  Every post I shared became an invite to another page.  My very presence on Facebook brought a hundred spam emails into my inbox every day (and it still does).

What exactly was Russia and the Trump campaign doing with my information?  Should I have been worried about that?

I'm confident this was not an issue.  I do see the possibility of what bots and trolls might have been trying to do.  If I were going to call out the opposition for trolling Facebook, I would say they were definitely trying to divide Democrats.  The whole Sanders-Clinton war was overblown, and too many Democrats fell for it.  There were so many posts supposedly from liberal sources denouncing Clinton, accusing her of corruption, and putting doubts in the minds of voters.  As her nomination seemed more likely, it seemed more obvious that there were forces at work trying to keep Democrats and undecided voters away from the polls.

I was not going to stay home.  The Sanders-Clinton war was one of the most tragic political exaggerations of our time.  The two of them were almost ideologically identical.  Yes, Sanders was more outspoken on topics Clinton was afraid to openly talk about for fear of sounding too socialist (a title Sanders embraced), but when it came down to the actual issues, they were in agreement for 93% of them. Sanders may have seemed more ideologically pure, but Clinton has a far more impressive resume.  She was an advocate for the disabled, an education reformer, a member of the Wal Mart board of directors, a lawyer, a senator, and a diplomat.  So in other words, she has a background in advocacy, business, law, government, and diplomacy.  I don't think this country has ever seen a more perfect and well-rounded candidate as we saw in Hillary Clinton.  Anyone who fell for that "crooked" thing (despite being hounded by the right for decades, nothing has ever been proven against her) deserves to be hacked by Russians.

Anyway, I digress.  Just because I'm not gullible doesn't mean I was safe.  I don't know what will happen to my social media posts in the future.  I do know that social media sites need to make their money somehow and if I'm going to enjoy these services - whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (I will NEVER use Snapchat), Tumblr, or whatever comes up in the future - those sites need to make money.  I will be agreeing to let them sell my information to advertisers.  That's how it works.

There is one solution I can come up with for this.  It's one nobody wants to accept, but it will be a huge step towards having our data sold to advertisers.

We need social media sites that aren't free.

How much are social media worth to you?  How much do you depend on them?  How many services out there do you depend on daily that you pay for?  You pay for internet.  You pay for television services.  You pay for your phone.  Maybe it's time you subscribe to a social site that caters to you and your needs and pay what it is worth to you. 

I would love to see a new site that integrates many of the ideas from popular social sites both past and present.  I really do miss MySpace.  I liked how it's blogging feature was like a daily journal.  I could write my daily quips and brainfarts as well as write essays and more thoughtful pieces.  I could also share photo albums.  Now I have everything scattered.  My daily thoughts were once on Facebook.  Now I keep them LiveJournal (I have them here on purpose since I know almost nobody on that site and it's less attention seeking than Facebook).  I use Blogger for essays and recipes.  I use Shutterfly share sites to share photos.  I use Instagram for random thoughts and photos.  Why do we need to be on so many sites?

What would my ultimate social platform look like?  It would like something that would contain the best of all worlds.

The site would contain a microblogging feed like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where a user can quickly share a few lines, a link or a photo.

Conversations on a feed can become lengthy.  The feed would have a limit to the number of comments going back and forth.  To make up for this, there would also be a forum feature.  If a discussion on a post takes up too much space, the users could take it to the forums. There would also be a private messaging feature.

There would be a journal/blog feature like the one on MySpace for those who had more to share than just a few lines of text.  It could be a journal or it could be a space for essays.

Those who like to share large numbers of photos would have albums just like Facebook and MySpace.  Users would also be able to share audio and video files.

It would contain a scrapbooking feature like Pinterest or Tumblr.  The site has a section where people could share random memes and pictures and pages.

Finally Musicians and filmmakers would have a space to share audio files and video files. 

Would I be willing to pay for a service like this?  Why shouldn't I?  I pay for many other forms of entertainment.  I could even see this as being an a la carte service.  A photographer may subscribe to show off photos, while a writer might use it as a place to feature new works.  Musicians and filmmakers would just subscribe to the AV sharing.   The feed would be part of all subscriptions to give an extra platform to advertise your work.  Paying for the service would keep away the trolls trying to get more information from you or harass you.

A platform like this couldn't be completely ad-free, but if the users are contributing, there would be less pressure to take ad revenue from shady and unethical sources.

I'm not a techie-head.  I have no means to build this site - financial or programming-wise.  For all I know someone might see this post, take my idea, and make millions off it.  I'll end up paying for my own idea and someone else will profit.  Oh well.  Maybe I'm the only one who would go for it?  Tell me, friends, if a site that contained all your networking needs in one place, would you pay for it knowing your privacy would not be violated?

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