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16 February 2017

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

A while back, I reinstalled the Facebook app on my phone. I'd uninstalled it just after Election Day, when the signal to noise ratio went batshit over Trump being elected. I reinstalled it for the purpose of looking at my list of several hundred friends and paring that list down to people I actually might want to still be in touch with. I wrote a single post that said I was more or less stepping back from Facebook, and that if anyone wanted to get in touch they were welcome to do so via Facebook Messenger. Then I uninstalled the Facebook app again.

No one's been breaking down my door to get in touch. I'm not surprised. I haven't recently talked to many of the people that are still my Facebook friends, in some cases for years.

I have sort of stuck with Twitter; the majority of people I follow there aren't people I know, but are people whose work I'm interested in. I follow a lot of information security people, a lot of software developers and companies, and a lot of just plain 'ol hackers. Some are rock stars, some are not. I learn a lot from what these people tweet-- tools, research, best practices, just cool shit.

I have a personal rule that I don't listen to political endorsements (or political opinions) from celebrities. That you are an actor/actress, singer/musician, or whatever, doesn't qualify you as an expert. You're completely right to have an opinion and speak your mind, but I'm not going to agree with you just because I liked that one movie you were in. Airing one's thoughts on political issues is one way for a celebrity to continue to be a celebrity; this has always been true, but it's especially true on social media like Twitter.

I'm a hacker. I want to know everything. I want to learn new things every day. One of the ways to do that is to watch and listen to what other hackers are doing, see what tools they talk about, and read the papers and articles they write. Some days I can do this very effectively, some days I'm fighting off anxiety and depression and PTSD (all of which make it hard to focus and concentrate and work and learn). Signal-to-noise ratio matters. I can only process so much, and the less noise I have to sort through the more I can actually learn.

I'm also a veteran, and as such I see the world through that lens as well. Many of the people who are saying the most about politics lately aren't veterans-- they're people who never served in the military, have never seen the world in the same way as those of us who have. One of the factors in me bringing PTSD home from the Desert was what I saw every day, so when I see people loudly proclaiming things about foreign policy I ask what qualifies them to do so. The answer is often the same as it is for celebrities-- nothing.

I don't see people organizing protests against veteran homelessness, or diversity efforts towards hiring veterans, in the same way as I see these things for other types of people.

Over the past couple of weeks, especially since the inauguration, I'm finding that I can't spend more than a few minutes looking at Twitter. I used to spend a lot more time than that. Honestly, now it just pisses me off and I find myself wanting to change the channel-- except that there are no channels to change to. So I unfollow people here and there, I turn off retweets for some many people. Some people, I've decided to only follow their blogs rather than their Twitter posts, since those tend to be more technical in nature (and therefore more useful for me to read).

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A late update (this post was written a while ago, I'm just now catching up on getting things posted): I'm doing much the same thing with LinkedIn, going through my list of contacts and removing people that I know I'll never interact with again. I don't see the point in having n > m followers or contacts just to say you have that many.

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