Where do you get your news? Television? Newspapers? Magazines? Online sources? It struck me the other day that since I don’t have television and don’t subscribe to newspapers, Facebook is the main source of news for me. I know that sounds horrible and frightening, but it isn’t, at least not in my case.
Facebook is one of those sites that everyone experiences differently. For some people, it’s a place to keep up with family and friends, to play games, to see cat or dog photos, to be inspired or amused by the ubiquitous memes, to promote.
When I first joined Facebook, the groups had discussion boards that were separate from links and photos and promos, and those discussion boards were my joy. Back then, authors were joining in huge numbers to make names for themselves but they didn’t know what to do once they got there. So every week, I’d sponsor a discussion, asking one or another author to post a brief article about a particular aspect of writing, and then lead a discussion. It worked. It was fun. Authors had a place to go where they could feel at home as they tried to figure out how they fit into the larger FB scheme.
Then FB, in its infinite wisdom, did away with the discussion boards, and the promos that were once set off in a special area now flooded the group, and discussions became impossible. I finally reclaimed the discussion aspect by setting up a special event every Saturday for promos and sending a group message giving people the link. That, too was fun, with everyone getting together to promote each other’s work. Then FB banned me from ever sending another group message. So I set up a separate group for those once-a-week promos. I kept that going for a long time until I realized that everyone was promoting one another but ignoring my posts. In a snit, I disbanded the group, which was not at all fun — to delete a group, you have to first remove each member, which takes awhile if you have more than 1000 members. When that’s done, you remove yourself. And that’s the end.
I still have the discussion groups, though they mostly sit there with no activity. And I still have a lot of literary friends, most of whom are very smart and very well read. These people span the whole political and idealistic and artistic spectrums, and each person posts links to articles that interest them. Hence, my feed is like a news magazine, though like no magazine you’ve ever read since for every point of view espoused there is an equal and opposing view presented.
This really has nothing to do with FB except that it’s the platform this private news magazine is fed into. People complain about not being able to see everyone’s posts, but that is a simple fix for me — if I notice that I’m not seeing someone, I go to their profile. But mostly, the FB algorithms work in my favor in that the more you view and interact with someone, the more of their posts you will see.
During the past twelve years, I’ve found a way to work around every single one of FB’s ridiculous changes, but there is no way to work around a ban. They do not hear, do not respond, do not care. There’s also no way of knowing if the ban on my posting links is permanent, or if after three months in “Facebook jail,” my ability to post will reappear as silently and as inexplicably as it disappeared.
So far, they have not completely banned me — just my blog — so I can still check in occasionally, but without a need to see who, if anyone, commented and to respond if necessary, there’s really no compelling reason to spend much time looking through my feed.
It might be good for me, not knowing what is going on. I was always much happier living in my own little world and eschewing a broader outlook. Except for books, of course — during all the years of my boycotting the news, I read history. That’s all news is, anyway — history in the making, and for now, I’ve had enough of the making.
Makes me wonder (jokingly) — if I get no news from any source, will that mean all is well? Because as we know: no news is good news.
Speaking of good news: my lilacs are in bloom!
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.
May 2, 2020 at 10:34 am
Your lilacs are beautiful!! I wish I had some. I was trimming my wisteria earlier this morning. It’s amazing how fast it grows!!! I believe you are correct in saying no news is good news. I grew up with that expression my self. Now maybe you can go back to posting about your garage!!!
May 2, 2020 at 10:54 am
As soon as the workers get back, I’ll post more about the garage. They’re working elsewhere for a few days.
May 2, 2020 at 1:36 pm
I subscribe to two daily newspapers (one local – paper version, one national – kindle version). They give me an idea of what a general interest editorial board thinks is important, and expose me to stories I might not have seen otherwise. If they were to personalize the news to what I’m interested in, it would defeat the point for me. Beyond general interest, pretty much just online, where I can dig deeper into a story if I want. News on TV, especially US sources, seems more like a bun fight than news. I’ll watch occasionally just for the entertainment value in how they twist the stories.
Probably just the way I’m wired (a bit of a pessimist), but no news isn’t good news to me. The alert pings on my phone can be annoying, but with multiple sources I can be reasonably sure if something important happens I’d know about it. In most cases, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway, but sometimes there is. That said, I very rarely take my phone on my daily walk. Even I need to unplug sometimes.
May 2, 2020 at 2:05 pm
That sounds very wise — the two newspapers, plus the occasional unplugging. I’m impressed that you’re still keeping up with the daily happenings of the world. After Jeff died, I felt so much pain and confusion, I simply could not find it in me to care. Walking is what saved me, I think. I hope it’s helping you, too.
I’ve been enjoyed your comments. Thank you!
May 3, 2020 at 10:27 am
Those lilacs really are beautiful. It was my mother’s favorite along with geraniums, so I always enjoy seeing them.
I’m fortunate in that my wife bought me an online subscription to the Washington Post via her Prime account, and my sister somehow got to add an additional user to her New York Times online account. I like going between the two several time a day. In addition, I get the local paper here on Sundays to stay current with what’s happening here (St. Augustine, FL). And, I’m such a fossil that I still watch the evening network news broadcast (CBS). I don’t know anyone else who does still! – Marty
May 3, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Jeff loved lilacs, so I’m hoping to plant more in his honor.
I’m impressed that you stay so abreast of the news! The Washington Post seems to be a favorite of my FB friends — they often post links to interesting articles.