Health & Wellness, Op-Ed

Why I Left and Where I Am

2 Dec , 2017  

She’s Gone! She’s Just Disappeared!

I’m still alive. I’m still right here. Yes, I left Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram in a bit of a hurry. I’m sorry for that – there’s no nice way to quietly deactivate an account but leave a single post containing a forwarding address, or a “Gone Fishing” notice.

It hasn’t even been two full years since my last trial separation, but it feels, this time, like when I finally quit smoking for good, over ten years ago. I woke up this morning with a smile, and the conviction that leaving was the best decision for me. I didn’t have one craving, not one urge to “check Facebook.” I missed my friends there, but they’re smart people. If they miss me, they know how to find me.

I don’t do “Goodbye, forever, Cruel World!” posts. As a former moderator, I’m all too well aware that most of those end up with the author slinking back, tail between their legs, wishing they hadn’t made a scene about leaving a site in the first place. But neither do I want the reasons for my leaving to be a mystery.

Facebook makes a great deal of noise about wanting to keep its users “safe” online, whatever that means. While I often wish the Internet came with training wheels, it doesn’t – and Facebook keeping us “safe” is like the a serpent guarding the henhouse. He may not eat the hens, but he’ll hiss, bite, and steal a few eggs without so much as a pang of remorse.

Two years ago, I reported – and recruited several of my Facebook friends to report – a graphic illustration that appeared in a public group on Facebook depicting small children engaged in a very explicit sex act with an adult woman. Each of us received the same response from Facebook, claiming they’d reviewed the image and that it did not violate Facebook’s “community standards.” Of course it did. It also violated U.S. law. Ultimately, the page was closed by its owner, after Facebook agreed that one nude photo of an adult woman did, in fact, violate its community standards and they asked the page owner to remove it.

There were other things that had bothered me about Facebook, beginning with a sketchy psychological experiment they allowed to be conducted on their users without knowledge or consent; their uneven handling of “hate speech” (they’re fine with hate speech when it comes from certain celebrities); their odd partnering with Kaspersky and others to protect users from non-existent malware. Then, in October, we saw headlines like this one: How Kaspersky AV reportedly was caught helping Russian hackers steal NSA secrets and in November, we saw: Here are the Russia-linked Facebook ads released by Congress, proof that Russia meddled with the election process through propaganda and manipulation of people’s political views and opinions through the use of social media. Twitter also provided a platform for Russian influence with these phoney accounts. I’m convinced that dead people, impersonators, and bots will outnumber living, breathing users of Facebook in less than a year, if they don’t already.

If you’ve ever seen Facebook’s eerily accurate guesses as to who else is in the photos you’ve shared, you know that it has world class facial recognition algorithms. Facebook, Google, and TinEye all used to do a much better job of identifying faces; if they now claim they don’t do it, I’m guessing it’s because they, and several governments, want to keep those toys to themselves, or prevent people from abusing them. As in, using them to prove certain Facebook accounts are imposters who have stolen images of real people and used them for fraudulent purposes.

Which makes the final straw even more baffling: Facebook’s Tone-Deaf Plan to Tackle Revenge Porn by Having Victims Upload Nude Photos What could possibly go wrong with that plan, laudable as its purported goal may be? April Glaser suggests a more reasonable approach: “Perhaps once an algorithm recognizes when a photo of a partially clothed body is uploaded, it should then run facial recognition software on the photo. If it detects that this is possibly another Facebook user, then it should flag the image to be reviewed by a professional who works at Facebook.”

I now concede defeat. We’re not going to change Facebook, or any other “too big to fail” company, until it’s no longer too big to fail. I have no expectation of a mass exodus, any time soon. So, if I can’t change Facebook, I can at least keep it from changing me. I just can’t go around irritated by it all the time.

Stress kills.

So, Which Way Did She Go?

At the upper right corner of the screen, you’ll see a link, Where to Find Me. All of that, except the Facebook and Instagram links, is still active. I’ve switched out Whatsapp for Viber, and I’m giving Flickr another look as an Instagram replacement. EyeEm is another fun photo sharing site; you can even sell photos there.

Near the top of the right sidebar, on every page of this blog, there’s a link that says, Subscribe to Blog via Email. That causes new posts to be delivered to your inbox. And if you’re on WordPress.com, you can just follow A Fresh Perspective there, and it’ll show up in Reader. Anyway, I hope you will. The subscriber numbers you see on the sidebar are grossly inflated, as Jetpack counts all my Twitter followers, too. Right now, I’m writing for about twelve of you.

You’re the best twelve readers I know. And I’ll keep blogging and working on that story, as long as it amuses at least two of us. I did have to take a break and let the 50K in 30 days thing go. Pinched nerves are weird, sometimes painful, sometimes just distracting. My left index finger feels like…remember when you were a kid, and you’d wind a strand of hair or a rubber band around your finger and watch it turn purple? Feels like that. Only not purple. Like your lip after a shot of Novocain at the dentist, just as it’s starting to wake up, and you bite it. Hard enough to draw blood. And it’s half awake. Just enough to hurt. You know the feeling.

That’s not supposed to go on for a week or two. And yes, I have an appointment with a specialist on Thursday.

So I slowed down. NaNoWriMo’s not worth risking permanent nerve damage. But as long as you’re reading, I won’t quit. I had planned to post another chapter, but the weather’s been stunning, the sky’s an amazing color I’ve dubbed “impossibly blue,” and there’s nothing wrong with my legs, so I’ve been taking long walks in the park, feeding the Fitbit. Remember Tamagotchis? Fitbit’s happy to be alive. So am I.

Just a Walk in the Park

In case you think I’m exaggerating when I say that the sky’s “impossibly blue,” let me take you on a little stroll – I took these Friday afternoon, and there are no filters or modifications:

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young at heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

Latest posts by Holly Jahangiri (see all)

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35 Responses

  1. Anklebuster says:

    Hi Holly,

    Those are some beautiful photos! What a great way to rest your nerves.
    Wherever you are, be happy. Wherever you’re not, imagine what it is missing.
    The juggernauts of today will face their La Brea of future irrelevance.

    Here’s to another week of azure skies!

    Cheers,

    Mitch (Reader # 6)

    • Thank you! You are the reader who consistently encourages me to be here, writing, because you only talk to me here, or at CCC! (I need to visit there, more, too.)

      I am happy. Hardly anyone admits that these days, but for the most part, that’s my nature. How about you?

      • Anklebuster says:

        Holly, I’ve been happy since 2004. LOL
        That’s when I left the rat race for good. I try my best to face adversity with a smile and one of the methods I use is to leave when I want to leave. Whether it is a physical venue on an online site, I generally do not bother with wasting time –although it may take a year or two for me to realize that the time IS being wasted.

        One of the best uses of my online time involves hanging out with you, Mitch Mitchell and about a half dozen other folk. The glue is good conversation, great pictures and plain old fun!

        Cheers,

        Mitch

  2. Awesome pics Holly. I am waiting for the story too whenever you are okay enough to go ahead with it!

  3. Mike says:

    Great pictures!

    I sympathize with your feelings about social media. I only use Facebook and, very sporadically and rarely, Twitter. I think I use Facebook differently than most, but that doesn’t really matter — it still sucks in many different ways, including how much time it wastes.

    I absolutely love Flickr. I’ve got a lot of my own pictures there. I also use it to save and somewhat curate a lot of the public domain and creative commons images I find and/or use. Most of the images I use on my blogs’ posts are hotlinked from my Flickr account.

    My Flickr account is at https://www.flickr.com/photos/exit78/ if you want to take a look. The most recent images are a whole bunch of pre-Mad magazine Alfred E. Neuman look alikes, some dating back to the late 1800s. I’ll probably do a blog post on them sometime, just not sure when.

    Waiting for the next episode in your serial no-longer-NaNoWriMo story, but take your time and do it at your own best pace.

  4. Beautiful photos, Holly! I sympathize with the changes you’ve made — it’s similar to that decision I made to stick with a little stupid phone for emergencies only and avoid the umbilical cord of constant connection to the world through a smart phone that would mostly annoy me. I know where your blog is, and that’s where I’ll hopefully continue to find you.

  5. Debbie D. says:

    Beautiful photos, Holly! I’m sorry to see you leave Facebook and Instagram but EyeEm sounds interesting. . That revenge porn story and Facebook’s solution read like something right out of “Cracked” or “Mad”. Knowing the world is full of sexual predators (or, are some that naive?), I’m thinking if you don’t want nude photos of yourself online, voluntarily or otherwise, then maybe don’t share any with anyone? Is that too simple? Is it similar to saying don’t dress provocatively if you don’t want to get raped? Is this a generational thing? Food for thought…

    Too bad you had to give up NaNoWriMo, but as you said, it’s not worth sacrificing a finger for. Here’s hoping you get some relief from the specialist.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    • Here’s the thing: While that’s sensible advice (and the only nudes I have floating around are loosely guarded by HIIPA rules), the notion that victims “brought it on themselves” is to free the blame on them, rather than on the intentional wrongdoer’s malicious acts. It shifts the blame AWAY from the one who commits the CRIME, and causes more harm to the victim. WE SHOULD be able to leave our homes and cars unlocked. We should be able to walk down the street naked and be unmolested. That’s not reality, but the only BLAME should go to the wrongdoer who is out to use and abuse others.

  6. Debbie D. says:

    I didn’t mean to suggest the victims “brought it on themselves” (although in hindsight, it may read that way), only that they should think twice before sharing nude pics electronically. Isn’t this the number rule for anyone posting anything on the internet? There’s absolutely no excuse for deviant behaviour, regardless! Yes, in an ideal world we SHOULD be able to all of those things you mentioned, however, that is not today’s reality. it behooves us (my pedantic side is in full form today 😉 ) to be a little less naive, don’t you think?

    • Oh, I know. But imagine for a second that a lover takes a nude photo while his or her partner is sleeping. A keepsake that later becomes a weapon when the relationship goes wrong. The victim isn’t even aware the photo exists. It wasn’t originally meant to be shared, this private moment. But then… after the breakup, or divorce, it’s a weapon in an act of hurt, angry vengeance. We assume a lot, assuming the victims had a say, or that they were even in the know. Maybe it was a quick snap one morning, just a lark, an act of trust in allowing it not to be deleted. Not all photos are selfies.

      My dad used to say “locks only keep honest people honest.” So while you’re correct, that caution is wise, no one should be punished for their folly – and certainly not punished twice, once by malice and once by shame for not being more prudent in the first place. We all need to be more empathetic.

      We could also say that no one could be victimized this way at all if all of us gave up our Puritanical attitudes about sex in the first place. I tell my kids to live in a way they need never give in to blackmail. We could all be temporarily embarrassed by something, no doubt, but in my opinion, nothing is worth giving in to blackmail unless it’s murder or malice (which would include sending nude selfies to children or initiating any sort of non-consensual sexual contact) – and THAT is completely within the “victim’s” control. But most of the things people get embarrassed by pass. Things seem horrible at first, but people forget. Or they remember that they’ve done silly things in their own lives, and they move on.

      I’m not sure it’s naive to be trusting. It’s callous to be untrustworthy. Let’s always be clear on where real blame lies, even as we make better means of safeguarding ourselves.

  7. Rowan says:

    Hi Holly, I’ve been following your writing, always . I think your watercolor of yourself at the top of this page is wonderful and of course your photos are magical. I hope your left index finger recovers with rest and you can continue to do the things you love, like writing.

    • I can’t really claim credit for the “watercolor” although the photo is a selfie. I ran it through an app called “Portra.” I liked the colors, so I saved that.

      And thank you. You are definitely one of my most longtime online friends and readers. I won’t even say how long, but it’s been a while, and I’m so glad we’re still in touch. Hey, if you still have that file you sent me a while back in email, could you resend it? My backup is unreadable. 🙁

  8. Peter Wright says:

    I understand completely why you would leave Facebook, I am only there so that I can manage pages for my business, church and a service club. I no longer post personal stuff on my personal page, only links to stuff that some may find interesting. One of the most pernicious developments with Facebook (and others) is the ability to select what they think we should read – dangerous mind control.

    As for the lovely photos, I have not seen skies that blue since living in Africa.

    • Jack Yan says:

      I’m totally with you on this, Peter. If not for business pages (one I manage for a friend’s company, and others I have some connection to professionally), I’d be out of there. I had reduced personal posts markedly at the beginning of 2016, to the point where I make none now. My concerns are mostly the same as Holly’s. Facebook is an unethical business, one that only acts when it faces severe embarrassment.

      • They’re also a victim of their own success. Facebook is almost “too big to fail.” But that means it’s also too big to moderate properly without cold, calculating algorithms that are still being developed and doubtless, weaponized (or theoretically capable of being). I used to laugh at the likelihood of error, but now I hope never to be a victim of it, if you know what I mean. Machines are getting better, but humans aren’t. And the algorithms are only as good as the people developing and using them. Some of those people are genuinely curious, smart, driven to get it right. Most – including those who pay them – want results yesterday. Whether for profit or power, we’d better hope their motives are reasonably benign.

        Here’s a little game: think of the major (of even minor) technoogical or scientific advancements since the start of the industrial revolution. For every amazing benefit, think of one or more ways that same innovation or invention can be used to hurt people. Let me know if you think of one that has no potentially evil use, alone or in combination with other things. We wouldn’t want to stop progress even if we could. But there’s a reason for ethics committees and ethical oversight and regulation.

    • Yes. Sometimes Facebook deems it unimportant to show me news from family. But never ads and sponsored posts. Those, it thinks I MUST see.

      It has never really helped me sell books, and I’m unwilling to work at being internet famous (a celebrity in my own mind!) I have made some wonderful friends online, many of them I met on Facebook. We are the product; WE are what makes it addictive to each other.

      Glad you enjoyed the photos. Wait till you see what it looks like a week later!

  9. Rick Ruhl says:

    I wish to god we could create a place like GEnie was online.. FB was designed for guys to pick up girls.. nows it political hell.

    We know the better way…

    • So let’s do it!
      But we also need to be realistic. Keeping things running isn’t free. GEnie was worth $6/hour to some of us. It was like the toll road I took to work, happy to pay for a good road with almost no traffic. At $18/hour, you might say it’s the addiction talking. I was willing to barter my writing, to be a moderator, to be a GM, all a I was doing anyway, some of which had value to others, to have that tool road subsidized. October 1, 1990, was the day the music started to die. All you can eat, for free, for those who valued nothing and weren’t quite sure why they were there was the beginning of the end. IBM, Sears, AOL taught them to be that way, and they didn’t see them that they were the product. Others had to compete with that to stay in the game. And we all like free. But look what that’s done to serious journalism. To well written and edited books. Contrast it with premium cable channels, Netflix, Hulu… The quality of original programming, at a reasonable price, is pretty good.

      So, yes. We can build it. They’ll come. But can we keep them, make them see the value, not treat customers like the product, AND keep the lights on and the sever weasels fed?

  10. Hello there. So whatever happened to our monthly lunch date?

  11. Steve Rechel says:

    Hi Holly.I am sorry to admit that I did not realize that you had left face book.I guess there is just to many for me to realize when this happens.
    I do know that somehow I place commentary on various posts without allowing my stress levels to ramp up.I am thinking that this is an historic time in our political democratic process and that its important.And after Trump is gone I am planning to radically tone my commentary down to occasional at best.
    I am currently trying to write a childrens book titled “My Summer Quest to Catch a Monster Large Mouth Bass”.
    I am glad to know you are at peace.Thanks for posting such beautiful pictures of nature.
    Steve

    • Steve, it would be mean and hypocritical of me to let anyone go on a guilt trip over not noticing someone’s Facebook departure. I didn’t make a big scene over it, and in retrospect I should’ve thrown myself a going away party. It’ll probably take at least a month for word to get out, and that’s just among the 200 or so friends that I interact with more than a few times a year. (In a way, Facebook’s a digital Rolodex, and that’s part of the problem. It’s a great way to “bookmark” friends with the illusion of safekeeping but not necessarily great for keeping in touch with them all. That’s not why I’m leaving; it’s why I stay. But seriously, I have really GOOD friends I care a lot about that I only talk to INTENSELY about once every 5-7 years. It’s weird, but we have these really intense conversational bursts, then run out of things to say and have to store up life news like nuts for the winter before we have another conversation. I think it’s an introvert thing. We don’t like phones. We only talk or write when we have things to say. Facebook’s just social snackage.)

      Don’t feel bad. I don’t want anyone feeling bad. I left, forgetting that Facebook (the jerks) make it look like you’ve “unfriended” everyone. They should give you a way to put a “Gone Fishing” notice up when you just temporarily deactivate – maybe with a forwarding address? No, that would make it too easy, wouldn’t it? Facebook’s like the damned “Hotel California.”

      I’m glad you stopped by, and hope you’ll make a habit of it, Steve.

  12. marianallen says:

    Wow! Great pictures! You’re the second friend today who has left FB. Gonna get lonely there, just me and the ghosts. <3

  13. Joy Manuel says:

    I’m so glad you reposted this on FB today and that I saw it. I completely understand. I, too, have been slowly stepping away. I also haven’t written much, if at all, in ages…and I mean, really written, not some lame blog post. I don’t know. Something is going on with me. Maybe I will message you one day about it and be blessed by your wisdom. Anyway, please don’t completely disappear. XOXO

    • I have no intention of disappearing! If I ever do, please call 911.

    • I started fresh with this blog because I felt the same way and wanted to do a better job of it. I have a lot worth keeping on the old one, too, but it was time to crack open a new “blank book,” so to speak.

      And to have conversations here again. Remember those, back when blogging was fun? I’m glad you’re here now, and glad Gay made the comment she did this morning. I should’ve realized it takes time to see things on Facebook. 🙂

  14. Krissy Knox says:

    Thanks for sharing, Holly.

    • Thanks for coming by to check it out, Krissy! You can always find me here. I don’t post every day (I had the best of intentions, but I’m working on some hot projects right now and also dealing with a pinched nerve, so no, not every day. If you subscribed, you’ll at least get an email when there’s a new post.)

  15. Goodness!

    First, it’s HIPAA lol

    Second, I subscribe to your blog on Flipboard but I haven’t been to that area in a bit so I didn’t know about this post until I saw it minutes ago… on Facebook! lol Course I read what you wrote and I know why you popped back in but it was still funny. 😀

    Third, I’m good with Facebook now that I’ve sculpted my feed so that I mainly only see stuff and people I want to see and have screened who gets to see the stuff I post. That 2nd part isn’t 100% but it’s at least 95% and I’m good with that also. It’s also the one place I get to play a game other than chess online with other people; I don’t get to play many games these days.

    Fourth… well, at least we still have Twitter… I think 😉

    • In my defense, I’m pretty sure I doubted myself on “HIPAA” (too much like broccoli and graffiti) and could swear it’s because I saw it as “HIIPA” on some stupid form I had to fill out recently. That, or I read the form wrong because I was drowsy from the muscle relaxer… 😉

      Anyway, I’ll admit to it being an error, not a typo.

      And it’s meaningless, anyway. I’ve taken to calling it the “Waiver to disclose patient information on the Dark Web.” And even more disconcertingly, the doctor’s office staff got the joke and laughed.

      I could whittle FB down like that, run ad blockers everywhere – but that only puts a Band-Aid on the problem. You and I won’t make a damned bit of different to Facebook. Only when all the real people get disgusted enough to leave, and advertisers realize most of the ads they’re paying for are just being shown to and liked by bots and shills, will it cause any real changes. They manipulated and/or allowed foreign government advertisers to manipulate, through targeted demographics, public political opinions on a massive scale. They say they can’t catch everything, but they can respond to reports of fakes and kiddie porn with “doesn’t violate our community standards” until we’re just left standing in a cess pool.

      It’s okay. All the businesses and entrepreneurs refuse to leave because they think they HAVE to be there. We stay because we like our friends and Facebook’s just evil enough not to let us export the contact info – so we think we need Facebook. “Too big to fail” sound familiar? I don’t want to feel that dependent on any site – or any business. I have visions of a not-too-distant future when one retailer controls all access to food. Think about that for a while. Amazon’s getting into restaurant delivery and pharmaceuticals and starting up their own logistics services to compete with UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. And we’re enabling them to do it. No one enforces antitrust laws anymore. No one cares.

      Social media isn’t that social – it’s one big effing billboard that pretends it wants to be our FRIEND.

      I want my mind, my writing, and my real friends back. 😉

  16. I mainly stay for my good friends and my family members… many of whom I’d never talk to if it wasn’t for Facebook. There are a few of them I wouldn’t mind disavowing because of some of the stuff they post but, hey, they’re distant family. lol

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