Improving your Facebook experience

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.
I love: 
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family
  • Seeing what long-ago acquaintances (school friends) are up to
  • Getting updates from musicians and comedians I like
  • Being introduced to entertaining videos, photos, and websites
I hate:
  • Nearly every debate, be it about politics, religion, parenting, schooling, gun control, or even health tips. I think there’s a time and place for healthy (and even heated) discussions on these topics, but Facebook is definitely not it. Have you ever changed a strongly-held opinion because of a Facebook comment? 
  • Ads
  • One-topic obsessives
  • Vaguebooking – “Oh, great, I *totally* needed that today!” 
  • Game requests
  • How much time I spend on it

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years to improve my Facebook experience

1. Calm down the advertising – 

Install Adblock Plus (Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, Android device | Firefox) and keep it updated. It works on any site, not just Facebook. And it will change your life. 
To block ads in Safari on your iPhone or iPad, try Weblock. This doesn’t work on the Facebook app (except when you click through to a website) but it works well in your Safari browser. 

2. Unfriend or Unfollow

I used to feel like Facebook friends were forever. I felt guilty about unfriending someone even if my blood boiled every time I read their posts. No more.  I come to Facebook to be entertained. If someone consistently keeps me from doing that, they’re gone. I’ve also told a real-life friend or two that I still like them as a real person but I don’t like their online persona. I’m sure others feel the same about me. 
Unfollow
If you want to stay friends but stop seeing their posts in your feed, just Unfollow them. Click the little down error next to one of their posts and you will see an option to “Unfollow”. Or go to their page and uncheck the “Following” box next to their profile picture. This allows you to get updates from them on your own terms — you can still visit their page when you want. And you can re-follow them if you change your mind — they won’t get notified either way. 
Unfriend
If you want to break up more permanently, click the Friends box on their Wall and select “Unfriend”. You can also go the Friends tab on your own Wall to see everyone at once for deeper cleaning. They won’t be notified when you unfriend them, but they may notice that your posts stop showing up and they can no longer see your Wall (depending on your privacy settings). If you change your mind, they will be notified when you try to re-friend them. 

3. Block game (and other app) requests

Like a friend but hate their constant requests to join a game, take a survey, RSVP to an event, or install an app? You can block just the requests. (Keep in mind that your friend may not even realize they’re spamming you with requests — they probably gave access to the game to post on their behalf.) 
The method for this changes over time, so it may be different by the time you read this. Currently (Oct 2014) you go to Settings / Blocking (try https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking) and you’ll see a couple of boxes called “Block app invites” and “Block event invites”. Just enter your friend(s) name(s) there and you’re done. If you’re getting harassed by many friends via a particular app, you can block the whole app on this page as well. 

4. Review your privacy settings

I try to review these every so often since they change over time. You may want posts to only show up for friends or be totally public. You may want friends to be able to tag you in posts and photos, or require your approval first. You may want your profile pic to be public (so new friends can find you) or totally private. Again, this may be different by the time you read this, but try https://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy to review these settings. I recommend “Limit past posts” to make sure only your friends are seeing your past entries. 

5. Monitor your time

If you use Google Chrome, there’s a great little app called StayFocusd that can help you realize how much time you spend on certain sites. You give it one or more urls and a time limit and it will hold you to it – when your time’s up all you get is a page that says “Shouldn’t you be working?” During work hours, I give myself 10 minutes per day on Facebook. What’s amazing is how many times I mindlessly try to go back to Facebook once my time is up. 
If you have other ideas that help improve your Facebook experience, please comment below. 

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