Part of what I do professionally is digital marketing – including social media. I used to compare myself to an alcoholic bartender: an addict who couldn’t avoid exposure to the enabling environment because it was also my workplace. This was particularly true for Facebook.
I’d like to be able to say that I quit Facebook cold turkey for some principled reason: privacy concerns, data exploitation, algorithmic manipulation, mental health, spread of misinformation, political manipulation, erosion of authentic connections, an ethical stance on advertising – the mere thought of Mark Zuckerberg.
I have not, in fact, quit Facebook. But the truth is I just lost my taste for it, slowly, hardly noticing as it happened. I go there now out of a sense of professional obligation, or I wouldn’t go at all.
When I Lost My Taste for Facebook
I found a folder on my computer named “Albums That Made an Impression.” Inside the folder were 25 thumbnail images of album covers, and a couple of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets!
It came back to me: the “Albums That Made an Impression” Facebook challenge
It was a perfect opportunity for me to nerd out on music, show my eclectic tastes, and maybe engage in some pedantry.
I exported my iTunes database to a spreadsheet, with information on thousands of songs – how many times I’ve played them, and my ratings. Yes, I eventually (obsessively) rate every song in my music library. I’ve rated more than 10,500 songs, so clearly I’m capable of wasting my precious time. Yet Facebook, which is algorithmically designed to sap my attention dry, lost it’s grip on me.
Using a spreadsheet, I created functions to calculate album ratings based on the average rating of all of each album’s songs. I narrowed it down to 25 albums; a mixture of albums that rose to the top of the spreadsheet, and albums that leapt to my mind as formative in my musical tastes.
My intention was to randomly select 10 from among the 25, and post one per day, according to the rules of the Facebook challenge.
I made it to Day 6 (above) and then I forgot all about it. I can’t say that I kicked my addiction to Facebook on May 13, 2020. But this challenge couldn’t keep me going. In another phase of my life, this would have triggered a dopamine bender.
A Transitional Artifact
Discovering this folder from only three years ago felt like discovering an archeological “transitional artifact” – an object that reflects a shift between two distinct historical periods, often embodying characteristics or elements from both eras. But I only recognize it in hindsight.
Since I did go to the effort – the spreadsheets and everything – here they are. If you click on the links, DuckDuckGo will attempt to find the most relevant page about the album, but I take no responsibility for where that leads you.