Why Facebook Live is ruining America

facebook live

Facebook Live (courtesy Facebook)

An open letter to America.

Dear America,

You are ruining society with Facebook Live.

As soon as the feature was announced on CBS This Morning last month, my gut told me this would be the inevitable outcome. And you’ve proved me right.

We already overshare detailed facts about our indigestion, our fancy plates at Olive Garden and that silly thing our cat did the other day (cats still don’t like baths). And now, we can show these things live to anybody scrolling through a news feed. And that’s a problem.

In my point of view, this trend began — and is still growing — in the news world. People and organizations with professional accounts had access to this live feature, a la Periscope. Burned in my memory are the unflattering closeups of news anchors from low angles as they give viewers a “behind-the-scenes” look at the newscast.

Really, “behind-the-scenes” means a different (and, again, less flattering), angle than what you’re seeing on the actual TV. Many anchors plop their phone on the news desk and show them reading the TelePrompTer live.

Fascinating.

Since then, I’ve seen cooking demonstrations. I’ve seen karaoke. I’ve seen thrilling walks in the park (there were squirrels!).

But you choose to watch them, you argue. Yes, I admit, for two reasons. One, because it’s hard not to watch a trainwreck. When technology is placed in the hands of people not trained to do it, that is the result. (And this comes from my snobbery of knowing how to properly use a camera and frame a shot. Seriously, people, you don’t need that much headroom.)

And two, because I have no other choice. Where my Buzzfeed lists and videos of dogs running into couches used to call home is now where Facebook live clogs my news feed.

This is why there are multiple social media companies. Periscope is for live streaming. Twitter is for witty, character-limited comments. Snapchat is for sexting. Facebook should stick to its roots.

That said, Facebook has come far from its roots. It used to be that one must have had a college email address to join the network. There were no videos. No links, even. Just friend requests and pokes and your “wall” that showed just how popular you are.that became a popularity contest.

Facebookers have been vocal every time there’s been a major change. Allowing hashtags in posts? No! Dropping your wall for a news feed? Get out! Giving your mom access to create an account? AHHHH!

All this said, one recent Facebook Live post happened upon my news feed, and I’m grateful it did. Though it’s a little long-winded at 11 minutes, it’s still an interesting and entertaining slice of life — a New York Times employee trash-picking and showing off her discoveries.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fnytimes%2Fvideos%2Fvb.5281959998%2F10150809580624999%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

That’s how it should be done. Who knew digging through trash could be so entertaining? Certainly not me, since my news feed forces me to do it every day.

So, America, a request. The resources Facebook provides should not be used for self-indulgent purposes, like writing a letter to America that a majority of Americans will not read. Rather, use these tools not just to your advantage, but also to your friends’ and followers’.

So go to your nearest trash can and let’s see what you got.

Sincerely,

Chris

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