Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Life After Facebook -- Ten Suggestions

A lot of people lately are more fully realizing the many down sides to Facebook.  Yes, it's only one of many massive corporations dominating much of the globe's online communications, but it's an especially problematic one on many levels.  With billions of users, it's so dominant it's almost impossible to ignore, especially for certain people, such as artists who need to be able to communicate with their audiences.

I'm not going to announce here that I'm joining the #deletefacebook movement.  It might be good for my mental health if I did so, but I'm not sure if my career would be able to take the hit.  And I say that despite the fact that in order for any significant number of people on the platform to hear about things like my tour plans or upcoming gigs, I and other artists like me more often than not have to pay to boost the post, since Facebook changed their News Feed algorithms years ago.  Ma Bell also really sucked, but deleting my Facebook account today seems a lot like living life without a phone line in 1980.

However, I've spent most of the past couple weeks being banned by Facebook for old posts related to a satirical London band called the Commie Faggots (mentioning their name is considered hate speech on Facebook, where satire is allowed but unrecognizable by whoever or whatever decides who gets banned on the platform).  It's been nice listening to the crickets, though more than a little inconvenient to be unable to respond to Facebook messages, less than two weeks before I embark on a tour of Europe.  And the experience has got me thinking about all those folks out there who have just deleted their Facebook accounts and may be wondering how to proceed now.

Mainly to all who have left Zuckerberg's corporation behind I say, take heart.  You may lose touch with a lot of people you probably didn't want to be in touch with so much in the first place, since so many people never leave Facebook, but you don't have to be like that.  And most of the things that Facebook was actually useful for are done better elsewhere on the web.  Rather than being a passive recipient of how Facebook's latest redesign or change in algorithms affects your life -- what you read, who you communicate with, what you hear about -- you can spend a little bit of time figuring out what you want to keep track of in life, and do it all without Facebook.

Here are 10 alternative ways to do some of the things you you might have been doing on Facebook, but better:

  • Songkick -- among touring independent artists, this platform is very well-known and well-used.  You sign up to follow artists you like, and then when they are doing a gig near where you live, you'll be notified by email and with notifications on your phone and/or on your Google calendar if you have one.  Artists and labels also generally sync their Songkick gig listings with Bandcamp, Spotify, and other platforms, so people can see where their upcoming gigs are when they're listening to their music.  There is no need to hope you'll notice a Facebook Event invitation, at least when it comes to following artists who list their gigs on Songkick.
  • YouTube -- yes, I know it's owned by Google.  The point for now is it's not Facebook.  When it comes to following independent artists of any kind, they may be posting videos and other content directly to Facebook, but they do that because it's more likely to be seen that way than if they post a YouTube link.  They are probably also posting all that stuff on their YouTube channel, where they may also be doing live broadcasts just like on Facebook Live.  You can follow channels on YouTube so you'll receive a notification by email or on your phone when artists you follow have just uploaded a new song or are doing a live broadcast.
  • Bandcamp -- when most artists that I know of make a new album, they release it on Bandcamp.  It's another for-profit corporation to be sure, but it's a popular platform nonetheless, and if you follow particular artists on Bandcamp you're unlikely to miss any new releases from them.  You can also Subscribe to artists on Bandcamp, and automatically receive all of their new releases on the platform while financially supporting artists.
  • Soundcloud -- this German company isn't nearly as well-known as Facebook, but among artists it's a household name.  Most artists that I know of who put songs up on Facebook and YouTube also put them up in some form on Soundcloud.
  • Twitter -- it's more than just a big social media platform that isn't Facebook.  It's also used by pretty much every journalist and artist on the planet (in countries where the platform is not banned), so if you're into following journalism or music, it's at least as good as Facebook.  Plus, it seems to lend itself much less to endless debates that don't go anywhere.  Either that or I haven't figured out how to notice the ones that may be happening.
  • Instagram -- yes, it's owned by Facebook, but if you don't link your Instagram account with Facebook, at least you won't be banned from Instagram when you get banned from Facebook, I've discovered.  Also with the editing tools, the photos look better.  And many of the people you might be wanting to keep in touch with are quite likely on the platform (including me).
  • Blog -- one of the things about Facebook that tends to cause depression among users is the phenomenon of scrolling through one's News Feed.  But many of the people posting truncated, Facebook-friendly stuff are writing much better and more interesting things in their blog.  Find out what platform they're using, and follow.  Of course you can still miss posts when you're overwhelmed by TMI and don't see emails notifying you about new stuff, but at least you're exerting some control over what comes in to your new, self-made feed.
  • Mobile Apps -- many artists, news outlets and other entities have mobile apps (including me).  Downloading their app can be the best way to reliably see notifications about breaking news (in the case of apps like the Guardian or AP) as well as for announcements from artists about gigs, new songs, etc.  With mobile apps it's also often possible to only receive notifications relevant to your geographical area.  This sort of feature is very handy in the age of TMI, you may find.
  • Email List -- At the bottom right on my website, as on many other websites, you can sign up for my email list.  Even in the age of social media, marketing professionals still talk about how email lists are the most effective communication tool.  Not everyone you want to keep track of maintains an email list, to be sure, but many people still do.  Since Google divided the Gmail inbox into three categories people often don't notice emails from people like me that get relegated to the Promotions folder.  But if you click the little box to the left of the sender's name indicating emails from this sender are Important, those emails should in future arrive in your Primary inbox.
  • Websites -- yes, many websites of many artists and organizations have become disused or disappeared altogether, as we all have probably noticed at some point.  Others, however, are still there, and regularly updated, often very nicely, as more and more people learn the ins and outs of Wordpress and realize the importance of taking more control of their online presence and being more independent from Facebook.  There's all kinds of cool stuff on my website that don't exist on any other platform, much of which I put a lot of work into and put up there recently, such as my Musical History section.  And I'm not alone like that.  You won't have probably seen anything about it on Facebook, unless you happened to see a post about it on the day I posted it.  And if you did see that post, it's because I paid to boost it.


joni said...

Great suggestions David!

joni said...

Me We is also pretty good https://blog.mewe.com/the-mewe-social-network/

Unknown said...

Hi David I have deleted my Facebook account. This came very timely (and I am not sure how as I never ever use Google+!). I do miss the comments on news and stuff like that but - so what! By the way my offer stands if you need somewhere to stay (or base things like CD's) when in or near London. I work 7 am to 7pm Monday to Friday so it may be a problem to catch me but you know my mobile so I will see what I can do.

I retire end of June so I will have heaps of time to do things after that!

Keep on truckin'

Rena said...

Due to business commitments, as well as local activism, I can't quit Facebook, but I am changing how I use it, and moving more to Twitter and Youtube, and maybe Soundcloud based on David's recommendation. As I posted on FB, we've helped create a monster, and now are slaves to it. The more users who throw off those shackles the better. Congress isn't going to regulate it properly anytime soon.

Thanks, David, for your persistence in communicating through all these tools and platforms. Sad that it's complicated our lives more than eased them.