Top 10 Things I Learned In My Years On Facebook or How Many “Friends” Can I Lose In One Post?

FYI: There were 3001 when I posted this. LOL

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“Live and learn.”

Conservatively, I estimate I “invested” 1400 hours of my life into Facebook over the past four years which is 500 hours more than it took to produce my book. Let that sink in a moment. I have dwelled on this for some time now. It is because of this significant amount of time that I did not just delete my Facebook account when the final straw arrived. I was close though. For better or worse, there is a legacy we leave behind on Facebook for our “friends”, if not the general public. However, if you posted as I did in a willy-nilly devil-may-care sort of way, you will spend days trying to clean it all up in order to leave a “best of” collection of posts worth scrolling before saying your final farewell. Be prepared for Facebook to “limit” your profile and page(s), a.k.a. putting you in Facebook jail, when you attempt such radical changes.

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1) Some people are not who they claim to be.

I am not talking about authors writing under pen names - which is absolutely necessary to avoid harassment - I am talking about people with multiple online personas. Don’t make the mistake of PROJECTING your level of integrity or values, a.k.a. honesty, discretion, and honour onto people you meet. It will bite you every time.

You can protect yourself by using a free deep web search at: pipl.com.

If aliases appear, search each one. If you know multiple locations where they have lived, search each city by each alias. It could take a while to compile all the data, and you should prepare yourself as the results can be nothing less than staggering. Look for, and even search, relatives, known associates, and phone numbers to confirm the site has not made an error. There are pay sites starting from $2.00 that generate a full report including criminal activities. You might want to consider one of these if you are in deep with someone you met online. May your god be kind with what you find.

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2) Don’t be naïve.

If you look up naïve in the dictionary, I’m sure you will see my picture there. I viewed joining the author communities on social media as an opportunity to connect with bright, engaging, open-minded seekers of wisdom . . . kindred spirits who would share thoughts as pen pals would, only using modern technology. Overall, nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, you will encounter a few worthwhile decent types, but in a game where we count followers in the thousands, they represent a minuscule percentage.

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3) “Haste makes waste.”

I remember being excited about making “friends” on Facebook when I first started out. So excited in fact, I would send friend requests to anyone who had the words author or writer on their profile. Back then, the prevailing theory suggested the key to success was a numbers game; the one with the biggest following would get a publishing deal. People were actually buying followers 10,000 at a time. I didn’t buy into this. I viewed social media as a popularity contest which does not translate into book sales ─ the equivalent to putting flyers in your neighbor’s mailboxes. I have yet to see data which is convincing enough to see it any other way. If I knew better, I would have cultivated relationships with influencers, readers of my genre, publishers, publicists, agents, reviewers, and bloggers ─ all the people I did not have as “friends” but who might have made a difference to the success achieved by my book. Had I known then what I know now, my friends list would look very different than it does today.

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4) Cocaine would have been a better choice.

If you are going to choose an addiction, social media is the worst possible choice. THERE IS NO HIGH, and the more time you spend on social media the less happy you become. Anyone who has read my book, knows I am anti-escapist regardless of whether the high is produced naturally or artificially. Regular cocaine users know the drug has a diminishing return. The high is never as good as the first time they tried it unless they increase the quantity used; and the more they use, the more frequent their cravings become until it affects their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hypocrite. I let my demons out for an occasional stroll, but I pick my poisons carefully to ensure that none take charge of my life. Social media hooks us on being connected and never being alone. It is dangerous because humans must be alone in order to think, learn, and grow. Social media stagnates the mind and, Facebook at least, seems bent on depressing the populace. Endless distractions thwart creativity and productivity. If you: feel obligated to post on social media; look in regularly for comments on posts; have never turned off Messenger or notifications or your device, then you should pick different poisons for a while until you get a handle on the monkey on your back.

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5) I kept my promise.

I used my Facebook profile page as a playground where I could share multiple aspects of my personality. This allowed me a place to vent . . . and vent I did; or more correctly, am continuing to do here in what will become my last post to Facebook. Early on I promised the real me would be on display at all times to my “friends”. The people on my friends list did not get an artificial construct or watered down perfect illusion of who I am. Nope, they got the full Monte, or at least as much Monte as Facebook would allow. My inner bad boy posted what little nudity Facebook community standards would tolerate for two reasons: Firstly, I am a rebel who sees freedoms dying faster than the planet is losing species; and secondly, nothing in the world is more beautiful to me than the female form. I shared my sense of humour as well, even when I knew it might be crossing someone’s line every now and then. I also shared my philosophies, and those from others which resonated within me, in what I now see as a futile effort to awaken the sleeping oblivious sheeple. The proof is in the likes. There were next to none. Recently, I wanted to find out if I was out of Facebook jail so I posted: ‘Somebody, anybody, tell me if you can see me.’ This post got more attention than a year’s worth of meaningful posts, and at the same time, it made a sad statement on the superficiality of the average Facebook user.

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6) “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

As an author, I should have divided my time equally between Goodreads, twitter, and Facebook because Goodreads has proven itself to put your books in front of readers, and unlike Facebook, you can reach out to everyone and anyone on twitter. Time is the one thing you can never get more of and it does not allow do-overs. Spend yours wisely.

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7) Nazi hamsters! WTF?

Fuckerberg, and the Nazis in the shadows behind him, are using facebook for data collection on each and every one of us, as are most of the major corporations in Silicon Valley. The difference is Facebook knows far more about us than Google, and possibly even the makers of our devices and the companies that supply operating systems as long as they do not breach their published privacy policies which most have already been caught doing. Facebook considers EVERYTHING you share to be their property. This includes Messenger. Yup, your selfies and home-made porn videos are all sitting in a data farm somewhere and you can never truly delete them. They lured us away from My Space with the promise of something better. A promise which was never kept right from the beginning. Their endless adjustments to the algorithm, have severely limited our outreach to readers while they stayed busy categorizing and compartmentalizing us into something reminiscent of a box filled with hamsters where everyone is climbing all over each other. Good luck. I’m out.

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8) Let’s see Facebook for what it is: a societal manipulation site.

That doesn’t have the same innocuous ring to it as social media site, does it. In my time on Facebook, I have been appalled by posts in my News Feed ranging from animal cruelty to the shooting of an unarmed man by police, with a far too great number of others in between. Were they fake news as with the Trumpeter’s election campaigners who mysteriously showed up only to disappear shortly after the election? We can never know. What is clear however, is we are affected, influenced, and manipulated by what we see and hear in all forms of media. Worst of all, we become desensitized to atrocious human behavior and I believe this is NO ACCIDENT; but where they are intentionally herding the minds of the sheeple. When three billion users worldwide have been programmed to no longer give a shit about life, the world can easily fall into anarchy. On that day, the frightened sheeple will willingly turn over the last of their freedoms for safety. The single biggest difference between other forms of media and Facebook is there are no restrictions placed on what Facebook is allowed to broadcast. Facebook can do what they want with the get-out-of-jail-free-card of being a social media platform not responsible for the content created by users. There is no Editor In Chief to hold accountable for what is thrust before our eyes. Facebook’s new take on morality is not for me. It shouldn’t be for you either.

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9) Some people make it bearable.

If I look at my years on Facebook as I would my life, there are some parallels. I have a few regrets but there was also a great deal of laughter. There were a handful of people who made the time spent on Facebook almost seem worthwhile. I hope they keep in touch. There were also some standouts who stepped up when it really mattered, and they have my deepest gratitude.

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10) Facebook is what you make of it.

If you are just an individual who wants to keep tabs on people you already know in the real world, or if you want to find people you have lost touch with, then have at it while being VERY cautious of what you post or message to people. Keep your circle small and be wary of people you have not met in person when they send you a friend request. If you have the misfortune of being a writer who is following conventional wisdom, a.k.a. forced kicking and screaming into the social media spotlight as I was, then things will be tougher. Absorb and retain the previous 1800 words and I will leave you with the immortal words of my favorite Zen master: ‘Mind what you have learned; save you it can.’ – Yoda.

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Rationalizations: What To Do When The Internet Is Down

First thing this morning my neighbor sent a text to inform me the Internet is still down, but they claim to be working on it. Apparently a major cable was cut last evening leaving our entire area without service.

Thanks for the update., I thought to myself as I ran my morning self-diagnostics to see if I was fully functional before getting out of bed. I worked out yesterday so you never know. Out of HABIT I turned on my computer anyway and headed to the coffee-maker.

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As I stood in the kitchen waiting for The Nectar Of Awakening (© 2019 E. A. Barker LOL), I pondered the importance of the Internet to him because he is a well-to-do guy who loves his toys. His home is run by Google and he likes his fully-automated lifestyle, and I don’t think he likes it when I speak of the potential for abuse of the users privacy. He only has his phone now. All that is good in his life has perished. Perhaps this is why he sent this out of character early text which woke me from some badly needed sleep.

Coffee in hand, I sat down on the couch and drank the entire over-sized first mug while staring blankly at the Windows start up screen. The only thought I can recall during this semi-conscious period was: They chose a nice shade of blue.

What will I do this morning? Maybe go for a walk? Too cold. Read? Eyes still too sleepy and brain not receptive to input. Write something? There it is. But what? We’ll wing it.

Anyone who reads my crap knows of my contempt for the Internet and my fervent belief that it is a mind control weapon employed against the oblivious masses in the final stages of our enslavement. Yet, it has also become a part of my ROUTINE to have my coffee while scrolling twitter and chatting with online friends.

It was not always this way. I remember having a satisfying life before all this book writing nonsense took over.

Here is an example of RATIONALIZATIONS running wild:

I RATIONALIZED this CHANGE IN MY BEHAVIOR by TELLING MYSELF this was necessary to launch and promote my book. I further RATIONALIZED I should continue promoting my work beyond the one year period I had originally planned for as there were still occasional requests for interviews and the like coming in. I continued my RATIONALIZATION to stay on social media because we were entering the peak selling season. That’s no time to quit. My latest RATIONALIZATION, after almost four years since I first appeared on social media, is I now have a handful of people whose words and thoughts I enjoy. It would be wrong to abandon them.

Or would it?

A flaw in my thinking just made itself known on mug three. I am PROJECTING my character traits onto them; people I have never met. I ass-u-me they share my values: morality; ethics; scruples; sense of decency etc., when in truth, I really have little hard evidence to support the mental picture of them I have created in my mind. It is hard enough to discover the TRUE NATURE of people we meet in real life, without compounding the problem by believing what we see or are told through an electronic medium.

Recent─all too public events─began with provocative hurtful posts which I could have been spared from seeing. I retaliated. That was wrong. The enraged are not in touch with rational thought. Things escalated from there into a tangled mess of unimagined proportions. If you witnessed any of it, my apologies. I now have first-hand knowledge of the gossips, spies, stalkers, trolls, and double agents we have all heard about when chatting about facebook dramas.

I am disgusted on many levels by many things, but mostly for allowing myself to be temporarily lowered into The Pit Of The Petty (© 2019 E. A. Barker LOL) where the worst parts of humanity reside.

Unchecked RATIONALIZATIONS can lead to DEMONIZATION or even DELUSION.

I am only guilty of the first two. I plead temporary insanity. I have and continue to work hard to be fully conscious and self-aware, and I pride myself on my ability to stay grounded in reality. This heightens your powers of perception so you can see things for what they are, and not how you would like them to be. However, this trait will not be considered endearing to anyone who lives in a fantasy world of imagined futures. Normally, I am so good at this people have called me a mind reader, or suggested I have them under surveillance, or even that I can predict the future. In truth, once you have really explored WHO YOU ARE and wrestled your demons into submission─with only occasional escape attempts─you are given a gift of heightened sensitivity which is composed mostly of sympathy, empathy, and compassion. Some call this being loving or caring; I just call them good people.

Humans like to think of themselves as complex creatures when in fact most human behavior is transparent and predictable to the few of us who bother to know ourselves. Once you know the best and worst you are capable of, and even though your self-control can slip at times, you can make shockingly accurate assessments of people as well as predictions of behavior and consequences.

To the superficial and narcissistic, life will always be a mysterious sequence of tragic events. They create petty RATIONALIZATIONS of their abhorrent behavior with statements like: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” or “We are only human.” or “They told me to do it.”. . .

Every single one of the seven billion souls on this planet are capable of moving beyond this most basic form of existence. I sincerely hope the readers of this will be some of those who do.

This was the second time I became embroiled in a facebook drama. There won’t be a third. Farewell facebook friends and followers. It was quite an experience which I can no longer RATIONALIZE.

Keep in touch by email if you like.

Blog 8: A study in positivity.

Having spotted a blog group that wanted “positive” messages, I am going to put a positive spin on everything I write in this blog!

I am too pragmatic to do rainbows, daffodils, unicorns and Zen. I do not know if it will make their cut.

This is a challenge for me being a student of human nature. As such, I all too often see the glaring negatives of mankind without acknowledging the more subtle positives.

I suppose I take the easy path that pairs well with my attempts at sardonic witticisms. Sarcasm is a tool used by comedians and writers alike to make light of serious subjects but for the purposes of this blog, I have to explore humanity’s “up-side” and that just may end up being good for me.

To a poor unpublished author, a blog becomes an outlet for pent up frustration so that I will not go out and buy the assault rifle that I sometimes wish I owned.

Up-side 1: Not all sociopaths carry out attacks on their fellow humans.

A personal philosophy that has yet to be disproved goes like this: 33.3% of the world’s population are genuinely good people with good hearts. 33.3 percent of the population are evil malevolent creatures and the remaining 33.3% can waffle from one side to the other on any given day.

Up-side 2: Therefore we can extrapolate that there must be days when almost FOUR BILLION people on Earth are doing good things for their fellow man and the planet.

Place a new-born baby in the hands of the most case-hardened worldly-wise man and you will see the inspiration for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. His heart will grow ten sizes in that moment as he gazes at the little creature that is totally innocent- a blank slate and free of evil that subconsciously engages his protective instincts. Not to be sexist, if it we substitute out man for woman in the above, chances are that subconsciously she will find her nurturing side bubbling to the surface.

Upside 3: Almost all humans, regardless of the hand that life has dealt them, are capable of having their soul touched by innocence, goodness and joy as we naturally covet these attributes.

On the subject of the more politically correctly named “Holiday Season”, in the G8 countries at least; Christmas carols and old holiday season songs are infectious- playing on the human desire for peace, joy and our yearning for simpler times. People smile a little more easily and they are a little nicer to strangers despite the hustle and bustle of crass consumerism and the plethora of social obligations. I was hoping to report that crime rates fell as a result of “good cheer” however the statistics indicate that there is a huge increase in alcohol consumption that netted an over-all increase in the crime rate.

Upside 4: For a week or so each year people are generally nicer to each other, even though it appears to be alcohol induced niceness.

In a world filled with stupidity, waste and evil, there are continual stories of “random acts of kindness” that are a very human trait the world over. Humans have the capacity for sympathy and empathy that when taken to extremes, can manifest into tremendous acts of bravery and sacrifice. There are countless stories, especially in conflicts, where someone laid down their life to save another. The person that made the sacrifice did so in the belief that the person they were saving was indeed worthy of their sacrifice.

Upside 5: The person saved feels a huge burden of responsibility to the one that sacrificed him or herself. They feel that they must live a good life from that point forward in an effort to be worthy of that sacrifice in order to honor the one who saw something worth saving- even if the saved individual could not see it in him or herself at the time. Better humans are created through “random acts of kindness” whether they witness a supreme sacrifice or a minor one.

Love: We all want it. Few can hang on to it. Those without it are jealous and envious of those who flaunt having it. Young love is rarely more than a hormonal overdose. {The following are excerpts from my book Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!} DOPAMINE is the love hormone. Just seeing the one you think you love will cause its production. It is interesting that its production naturally sags after approximately two years with the same person. If you want to “Bring back that loving feeling…” boost intake of vitamin B6 and magnesium. PEA- (Phenylethylamine) has been nick-named the “Molecule of Love” and the “Love Drug”. Found in chocolate and your brain, this organic compound creates the stirrings of sexual excitement including that rise in heart rate that we all have felt. Studies indicate that the onset of DEPRESSION may be due to decreased concentrations of PEA.

Upside 6: When I see an old couple holding hands on a bench after living a lifetime of hardships together, it proves the existence of true love. It is more than companionship. It is loyalty, trust, mutual respect and a sparkle in their eyes when they look at one another that is eternal. SOUL MATES ARE REAL.

Artistic types are typically more damaged, flakier, more anti-social and more oblivious but they can also be more talented and more cerebral than the average human.

Upside 7: If there is any part of humanity that could warrant our continued existence, it is our capacity to appreciate and create beauty. Film, photography, paintings, sculptures, theatre, music and literature occasionally capture or help us to envision the stunning and wondrous.

“Pay it forward” or “one good turn deserves another” are proven concepts that may define humans. We all live in a hell of our own making but when we stop feeling sorry for ourselves just long enough to smile or hold a door open for another, we prove that we do not belong in such a place; and that we are capable and worthy of existing on a higher level.

Hope leads to belief;

Belief leads to optimism;

Optimism leads to learning;

Learning leads to wisdom;

Wisdom leads to growth;

Growth leads to increased hope.

IT IS A CIRCLE!

My book:

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

Life with Women: the long awaited instruction manual.

talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics- even physics as well as how THERE MAY BE HOPE FOR THE AUTHOR AFTER ALL.

Wow, I feel cleansed.

Not really.

Have a hope filled week.

E.A.