Tag Archives: social media

Why I quit Facebook

22 Mar


Why I quit facebook

By L. Stewart Marsden

Like a storm at sea, it’s been gathering for quite a while. I’ve seen friends on Facebook experience some of the same agonies I have, and leave or disconnect from their Facebook accounts for a bit, only to return. Those are the people, like me, who have/had a love/hate experience with the social media array of ways to connect while not really connecting.

Retired, it was easier for me to give up LinkedIn and Twitter. The algorithms of those platforms continually sent me reasons to update my profile, or to check out what was going on with one of the dozens of people I followed, or who followed me. Yeah, I know … dozens. Not very impressive. Missing the whole point, right? But those are networking platforms, and I don’t care to network at this point in my life.

I was a holdout on Facebook. At one point, after a long dearth of writing on this website, I convinced myself that basically posting on Facebook was tantamount to blogging, and was an acceptable substitute for the daily regimen of working on a poem, or an opinion piece, or one of the many stories and other fiction projects laying fallow in my fields of imagination.

I found myself binging in reaction to what others had posted. Swooping down from cliffs of grammar correctness to attack a misspelling or erroneous usage of a word or phrase. I was like Ralphie’s teacher armed with a red pen, slashing his masterpiece “What I Want for Christmas!” and leaving him in the smoke of my “writeous•” fury. I was like a Stephen King horror unleashed on the social media world.

Deep inside, I knew this couldn’t continue. But I was chained to my addiction, and each time I tried to break away, the effort only redoubled my Facebook dependencies.

You’ve heard it before: it’s not the alcohol, it’s the alcoholic. I’d been through and successfully escaped one addiction –– smoking. That effort, twice over a period of about fifteen years, was trying enough. One factor with cigarettes that does not exist with Facebook is the motivation of cost. When I was a kid, you could get a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine for a quarter. Now you need an equity loan to keep yourself in smokes. Also, the Federal Government and all other health-binging entities worked to nearly squash the tobacco industry.

Facebook? No such incentives. It’s free. And is without the negative pressures the big tobacco companies faced, such as huge money settlements, fines, and regulatory parameters. Public reaction today among most Americans towards tobacco? Boo, hiss!

There is no danger of second-hand Facebook exposure. No rising per-session cost. No sanctions to speak of when you react negatively to someone’s unkind and oppositional criticism of your post.

And with every passing month, week, day, hour and second, there is a plethora of new ways to use (and abuse) your social media connection.

Ah, said a marketing person. Look at all of the valuable data we have regarding our users (not customers, because that would infer a reason to please the customer). I wonder if some enterprising companies could mine these resources for their own benefit, and –– gosh –– PAY us for access to this information?

Remember decades ago when the high-tech industry was booming, but with no tangible means of turning the popularity of things like Facebook and Twitter and others into profits?

Pssst: they found a way.

First, benign. Based on number of hits.

Then, the release of overall market profiles for advertisers. Just like radio and television has operated for years selling and placing ads to cover its costs and growth.

Those pesky pop-ups. Those moving text bars at the bottom of your computer/cellphone screen. Just part of the evolution.

Then, rumors of other countries using and manipulating various social media platforms in attempts to influence the mindsets of the users.

Is this one big metaphor for the drug industry, or what?

Users? Original intent? Addiction? Manipulation? Money? Power? (The sex part is assumed).

Then last week the media pounced upon a story that would shake up my world: Facebook, the Trump Campaign think tank, user data, user manipulation. Never mind Trump was not the first politician to think of and use these tactics, although ex-Obama aides claimed they did it the correct way (according to The Washington Post).

It’s a small leap from seeing nuclear power as a resource, to using it for power and destruction.

The tobacco companies: “We did not know the addictive and health-damaging properties of cigarette smoking.”

Mark Zuckerberg: I wasn’t aware of this abuse of Facebook’s tremendous data capabilities. Fire that guy down there. No, not him –– the one next to him.

The I’m sorry Zuckerberg finally expressed was one of those spins we get from the politicians.

“I’m really sorry this happened.” Sorry WHAT happened? That no due-diligence was in place to protect user information? That the whole event was leaked? That you got caught with the proverbial hand in the cookie jar? That the stock market reacted quickly, reducing your paper value by $50 billion in a day?

That was the straw for me. It’s like the Emporor’s New Clothes. You know what’s going on. You see it. But you don’t want to admit it’s happening, or that you might be contributing to it.

Well, golly! He ain’t got no clothes on!

There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media. Like the telephone. Whoever thought when Edison said “Mr. Watson –– come here –– I want to see you,” to actually seeing the person you’ve called on your cellphone? Or seeing up someone’s dress in the supermarket with your phone?

It’s not the tool, (I am not pitching the NRA, by the way), it’s the tool user.

But I hold Zuckerberg accountable. For what happened, for it being possible to happen, and for his apparent smugness in responding. “I’m really sorry this happened.” Huh.

So I turned it off. My Facebook account. Which is not as easy as it sounds, and is a very confusing process. Then I deleted the app from my iPad as well as my cellphone.

Again, I’ve done this before –– temporarily disconnecting from Facebook. But not for these reasons. Perhaps I wanted to live in the deluded social world I had occupied for so long without thinking “how the hell is Facebook making any money?”

Not from my usage.

Or was it?

• I’m sure I’m not the first to think of this word, so I’ll take no credit for it. The irony is that it would make a helluva meme for Facebook!

National Do Not Email Registry

30 Mar

Do Not Email Registry


The Bear I Didn’t Shoot

By L. Stewart Marsden


We all get spam. I’m so pleased with Gmail’s ability to filter most of it out. Still, some inevitably slips through the cracks in the filters.

Years ago when I was a reporter for a local newspaper, I was somehow put on an email list that has been distributed to God-knows-who. These are people who want their story printed, at the paper’s expense, with their point-of-view. Fake news? Hard to tell.

The upshot is that I have tried numerous times to get my name/email address deleted from this list or these lists to no avail.

It’s really not that big a deal in the long run. But, gosh, in this day and age when everyone makes a big deal about everything, why not join the fun?

Seems to me there should be a way to include my email address on a National Do Not Email Registry, like I can do with my landline and cell phone. I mean, what an incredibly effective deterrent the registry is, right?

In lieu of that, perhaps I should at least get something from this continued irksome problem. Hey, maybe an opinion piece for my online writing studio!

So here’s the latest sample of the emails I’m talking about. At least SPAM is somewhat interesting (I’m long overdue, by the way, to go check my cache of spam and post the craziest ones).


To: Mr. L. Stewart Marsden

From: Chelsea Giacobbe, Senior Account Executive

SUBJECT: Interview Opp: Rosetta Stone and Forbes Release Joint Study On How Providing Employees with Language Training Helps Global Enterprises Compete

Hi L. Stewart –

Hope all is well. Today, Rosetta Stone and Forbes released a new report on how providing employees with language training helps global enterprises compete. According to the report, as more companies are expanding into a global economy, having a multilingual workforce has become a critical success factor and businesses are taking action to provide employees with language learning resources.

Key findings from the report include:
· Management is seeing results. Nearly 60 percent of managers cited improved customer feedback as the area most impacted by employees participating in language learning. Performance improvement and more confidence also ranked high at 46 percent and 51 percent, respectively
· 92 percent of executives surveyed indicating that the entire company realizes the benefits of language training, though businesses in the customer service, travel and hospitality sectors are more likely to report this than other industries
· Successful learning aligns with organizational goals. Companies that build language training into employee development plans and track KPIs are twice as likely to successfully link language learning goals to the organization’s strategic priorities
· Opportunity awaits. The proliferation of online learning is prompting organizations to rethink traditional learning approaches and adopt technology-based models for training and development.
· Language training must become part of the corporate culture. While companies understand the necessity of language learning, incorporating it into the corporate culture remains a challenge

I’ve pasted the full press release below for your convenience. Please let me know if you’re interested in speaking with Bruce Rogers, Chief Insight Officer at Forbes, to discuss how companies are using language learning to not only better their business but their employees as well.

130 W42 Suite 950 | New York City | 10036
212.730.7277 | http://www.coburnww.com

* * * * *

A benign email, I’ll grant you. I won’t bore you with the article Chelsea pasted into the body of the email for me to read and decide whether or not to post it on Facebook. If she happens to take me up on my response and offer (prompted much in the same way when you get a call on your phone from some marketing person — or worse, scam agent — and you want to teach said caller a lesson, playing them along until they erupt with their expository genius), then I’ll reprint it and let you know. You can always go to her website where I’m sure the article will be available.

Here’s my reply to Chelsea:


Hi, Chelsea

All is well, thank you. For the last couple of days I’ve been working on putting up a vinyl rain gutter ceiling on the deck where I’ve just installed my new hot tub. It’s a two man job: me and myself are doing the work.

So that’s why I missed getting a picture of the black bear that has been raiding my garbage bin since spring has arrived.

Did you know that there’s no real way to repel a bear through the use of odors? In fact, use of things like clorox or other aromas you would think would stay the creatures, attract them!

I’ve set up my Nikon camera on a tripod and it’s facing the drive area from my bedroom window. I’ve got all the settings in place, as the lighting at night is a bit critical, especially since a floodlamp affixed to a telephone pole bathes the area in yellow light.

A few nights ago, my son’s dog, Mowgli, dashed out the door of my condo and down the hill, barking come hell or high water after what we figured out must be a bear (I had been awakened the night before and saw the culprit).

So, for two nights in a row I’ve been sleeping intermittently, hoping to get a shot of the bear. That, plus the project of the vinyl ceiling, left me utterly exhausted last night. And guess what?

It’s the first night in a long time I slept soundly throughout the night.

And guess what else?

Wouldn’t you know it, the bear decided to visit again, and — drat — I missed getting a picture of him.

In the event you are wondering why I’m telling you this, it’s probably the same as my wonderment over the continued article ideas I get from you and a host of other people who think I care at all about the ideas. I suppose I could post them for you on my Facebook page, but I’d have to charge you $1,000 for my services.

If that sounds good to you, please respond accordingly and arrange for me to draft your checking account, and I’ll gladly post your story — whether or not I think it will be of interest to my Facebook friends.

I hope this response finds you well.
L. Stewart Marsden

PS: Here’s a photo I took of the bear when I didn’t know what camera settings to use. Hard to tell, but that’s one big Teddy!


This second photo is after I was able to correct my settings, which are still on my camera. Didn’t matter, though. I still missed the shot of the bear.



Related item:

Here’s a poem/story (poestry?) I wrote several years ago about a Do-Not-Call App that you really should be able to download to rid yourself of those nuisance calls: click here.



From Extreme to Extreme: the search for sanity

13 Jul


Photo by L. Stewart Marsden


From Extreme to Extreme

The search for sanity

By L. Stewart Marsden

My last two weeks have been spent at two “opposite” locations. One along the coast of North Carolina, with a broad view of the shore and the thin horizon line separating water from air. The other, in the mountains of the same state, with a view of Grandfather Mountain from my top deck. There is no horizon line. Simply the jagged outline of rocky contour against a sky steeped with thick clouds.

In both locations two similarities exist: the impact of weather, with coastal storms raging from the land to the ocean late in the afternoon and into the night; and the cool, quiet build of cloud shapes and substance above the mountain range; and the quietude.

These two weeks those intrusive electronic devices — flat screened TVs — have not infringed so much on the sounds of silence. I suppose that may be the result of necks bent reverently over tiny cellphone screens. Though irksome in itself, it still allows for others to wallow in the peace, while having the deeper and perhaps more onerous effect of estranging family and friends from conversation.

For me, the separation from the world into these idyllic sanctuaries comes at a time when I feel pounded by things I cannot change. The bile and sputum that fills the airways of social media has become so corrosive one wonders what has happened to civility and the exchange of ideas within the forums of debate? It has become a smack-down, no-holds-barred UFC-style free-for-all.

While not a very religious person anymore, there is a verse in the Old Testament that begs repeating. I apologize in advance for the number of readers this may offend:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

It comes from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter I, verse 18. It is the King James Version, which we all know was the version Jesus used.

Here’s the point — I wonder if large pockets of people have lost the ability to sit down and reason. When you spend a week at the beach followed by a week in the mountains, and the air is filled with the sounds of surf and wind and thunder and goldfinches, all the stuff we see, read and hear from our various sources fades. I know it’s still out there somewhere. But I’d have to want to see, read and hear it.

Pie in the sky, I know. Everyone can’t spend time in seclusion. People gotta earn a living, take care of families, prepare for the future.

When I was a small boy, my bedroom window opened out onto a roof. Sometimes, when I heard the beckoning call of a distant train, or the low rumble of heat lightening, I’d climb out onto the roof and sit for what seemed hours. The sky above was amazing! Lit up with the Milky Way. Periodic falling stars zipped across the expanse. Where were they from? Where were they going?

I don’t believe you need to go to the shore or the mountains to find a place to think and ponder and meditate. It’s a conscious decision and can be accessed nearly everywhere and in nearly every situation.

I will invariably turn on the TV, and I haven’t yet weaned myself from my social media fixes. This eureka is not anything new — the sounds of silence are hallowed halls I’ve always known about, yet seldom used. Poets and philosophers alike have pointed the way throughout time. As did the writer of Isaiah.

If there’s anything good to come out of the stuff going on, it’s the fact I need to have that silence. I need the time to think and ponder and meditate. It is the antitoxin to what’s going on, and will help me maintain a semblance of sanity.


Photo by Graham R. Marsden



Photo by L. Stewart Marsden