I was initially drawn to Facebook as a way to re-connect with friends from my past, all the way back to high school, that I had lost touch with over the years. I was able to reach out to, contact, and catch up with people I knew that, if it hadn’t been for the social media platform, it is unlikely I would ever have interacted with them again. There was value in that for me.
I was naive at the time about the data mining, targeted marketing, and manipulative media that came along with rediscovering long lost friends. It really didn’t bother me early on because I didn’t buy into it, and it really wasn’t that intrusive at first. Over time, it became more pronounced, and began to detract from my online social interactions. Concurrently, the atmosphere became increasingly polarized, and people, mostly newer “friends”,became more willing to put aside civil discussion and engage in ad hominem attacks and character assassination. I wouldn’t necessarily “unfriend” these people, but I would eventually “unfollow” them so I wouldn’t have to deal with their nonsense. I have to admit to occasionally responding in kind, which left a bad taste in my mouth and a hollow feeling in my soul.