Friday, November 13, 2009

Facebook: Signing up and playing defence

So I recently joined Facebook. Apparently everyone who does this comes up with a justification for it. Mine's that I'm extremely lazy, and I want to keep track of keep in touch with friends overseas with minimal effort.

The thing that scares me about Facecrack Facebook is variable reinforcement. The problem is that there isn't something new on Facebook every time I check; things update randomly, so that I feel I need to keep checking in to see if anything's changed - and I'm rewarded by that often enough that pretty soon I started looking at it whenever the urge takes me. That, alone, would erode my willpower ... but couple it with the fact that people might be responding to something I wrote about myself, and pretty soon checking Facebook becomes the most important thing I have to do. And I have to do it right now.

I realised most of that going into making this decision. Possessing the ... unique character traits that I do, I did a lot of research about Facebook before signing up - trying to figure out how to stop myself from wasting as much time on it as I could. That hasn't been successful at all, but I figured I'd share what I discovered here.

But I also want to know your tips and tricks for using Facebook. How do you set it up? What are your suggestions for minimising procrastination? I need your help!

The most useful I've done is create lists, grouping my friends into different areas. For instance, I've got separate groups for university friends, people I've met, online people, Australia, and Auckland. By dragging those groups up above Status Updates and News Feeds, I can make them the first thing I see when I log on.

(You can create lists by going to the menu on the left of the home page, clicking more, and creating a new list. The process is straightforward from there.)

Next I changed my privacy settings so I wasn't searchable via google, or viewable by anyone other than friends. Not quite sure why I did that, but it felt right. Check this article for more details on privacy.

The most important decision I made was "No games. Ever ever ever." If they show up in my feed, I hide notifications about them. Facebook games would destroy my life.

In order to not get enticed onto the site all the time, I initially turned off all email notifications for everything. No emails whenever someone becomes my friend, or posts something to something I've written about. But, in some way I can't articulate yet, I think that's a mistake. What I need to figure out how to optimise my use of notifications. I want the emails I get to satisfy my Facebook desires and discourage me going on it so often. Perhaps I should change the settings so that they email me only when someone has posted updates to statuses I've commented on?

I try to remember to use the hosts file to block facebook when I'm working. There's a how-to here, but essentially I need to open a .txt file in your computer, enter:

and I win. It means that I can't open that website anymore.

I've also read that you shouldn't poke, so I don't.

So those are my tips. What about yours? As I said: I need your help!


The Gamester At Large said...

Like you, I mainly use it for keeping in touch.

I make a point of not visiting the site often, but I have it email me when someone sends a message or adds me as a friend.

This tactic might not work if there was a significant volume of messages, but so far that hasn't been an issue.

Helen Rickerby said...

You and your adorable 'unique character traits'! I only look at facebook when I get email notifications (much like your previous commenter), and that works for me. Then I only look at it when something directly related to me is going on - stops me getting addicted.

Also, no games, no pokes, no gifts.

billy said...

I am not on FB (yet) but if I was I would probably use facebook purity ( which apparently eliminates quizzes and other mindless junk from your page.

hix said...

I love the idea of the Facebook Purity gadget. Great tip!

Some recent developments involving Google Wave have had me considering (and trying out) broader changes to how much I use the net. Maybe I'll go into that, and an assessment of Wave, in a later post.

I think the key is not getting overwhelmed by incoming information - I find it addictive: my reader feeds, facebook, wave. The only thing I'm not addicted to is Twitter, and I'm baffled about why that is.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

I think Facebook was invented purely to make us NOT fulfil any projects we may be working on.