What Derek Sivers taught me about Facebook


I've just got into an argument with somebody, I'm confused by all of the options and I'm not sure if you'll still want to be my friend.

Everybody wants to be popular, to have people like them.

But I had begun to enjoy being a hermit, sitting in the dark and being ignorant of all of the cool things my ex-Facebook friends were up to.

Except, for two things. I wanted more people to connect with my blog and I wanted to be able to connect more easily with real life friends, and those friends were really bad at staying in touch via email.

So I thought about Facebook again. And I started to feel depressed. It's a messy, superficial, behemoth of a social network where you and I are the product, not the customer.

I'd looked at other social networks and many of them were better, more secure and more delightful to use. But nobody was on them, so they were useless.

What could I do?

Reach out to someone wiser, cooler and more unafraid than me. Derek Sivers.

For a gazillionaire, who writes and delivers some of the best online advice I've seen, he didn't need to reply to me. But he did (and does reply to everyone who emails him)

I asked his advice and shortly afterwards I received a concise, thought out and friendly reply back.

Here's what I do, and I recommend it for your situation:

- Don't have it anywhere on your phone

- Give it a long password you can't remember, but have it saved somewhere on your hard drive to copy-and-paste.  Really long one like vy43=x-TIpN^IVB.^~Se%V*8wWDpLaSjOcj1MjQJ so that there's no chance you'll ever type it in from your phone.

- Log in once every few days to see if there's anything you need to know through direct messages or the few places that might message you there.

- Immediately log out.  Ideally about 2 minutes later.  10, max.

That's it!  Don't post anything personal in there.  No photos, no updates.  (Just one photo so people know it's you.)  It's not where you keep in touch with friends, even if it may be where they keep in touch with you.

And he was right. The key to me was the very last line "It's not...."

I'm not looking for Facebook to be where I keep in touch with friends. I'm looking for it to assist me in keeping in touch with friends. To allow me to arrange real life opportunities to spend time with people I want to be with. By not filling my timeline with pointless trivia I'm being more mindful of my attention and that of my friends too.

On my Facebook page, it's a different story. Here it's not about building relationships with friends, but rather helping me to show my work to a larger number of friends and acquaintances. Just like in my other channels of Twitter and Instagram.

I feel more clear now about why I am using Facebook again and am approaching it from a much more mindful place.

Except I'm not...

You see I wrote the draft of this post (everything above the "Except I'm not...) back in May. I left it in my NValt files to look at and refine later. And then having completely forgotten about it I came to write a post with exactly the same title.

I wanted to write a post because post-Brexit vote I've become aware that I've slipped back into the negative side of Facebook. I've argued with people about their decision to stay or leave. I've corrected people who's opinions I didn't agree with. I've read comments by friends that have upset me or made me wonder about their motivations. Negative, negative, negative.

In short, what I was reading on Facebook was not bringing me much joy and with regards to what I was posting, I had stopped being mindful and polite.  In short I had become a bit of an arse.

I have my opinions on life, politics, etc. So do you dear reader. It's OK to disagree. But Facebook seems to be the worst platform to have a discussion between friends on subjects such as politics. There's no nuance, you can't see my face when I disagree with you, to appreciate that I'm still here, I still like and care about you, it's OK, we're cool!

I'm going to go back the Sivers plan. My personal Facebook feed will only be a positive tool to help me keep real relationships with real friends, in a respectful and non-argumentative way. I'll pull anything off my feed that doesn't give me or you joy.

And I'm going to get back to real life, mindfulness, positivity and love.

Anyone want to join me? 

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