Fewer Better Things No. 72

Finally, Free From Facebook

I closed all my remaining Facebook-related accounts yesterday. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now as I’ve realized that it’s a very unhealthy way of seeing and perceiving the world – for me. Initially when I signed up with Instagram on the day they released their app a decade ago it was just simple photo sharing with friends. Now the photo feed has been hijacked by ads derived from verbal audio conversations, like the neighborhood tattletale that is overhearing a private conversation and then broadcasting it to the world, and a lot of real fucking nonsense. 

I’m blown away by the fact that one of the largest and financially most successful corporations in the world is also ripping us apart as human beings and as a community. But that is not the worst, they are just a corporation, prioritizing money over ethics and humanity. No, the worst is that we allow them to do this voluntarily by walking into the gas chamber by our own choice or maybe our inability to make a mindful choice. Did he just make a reference to the holocaust? Fuck me.

Let me prove my point: For my birthday I only got well-wishes from three friends because I’m not on Facebook. I’m now on the outside and have happily been for a few years. But that three people really made the effort to remember and congratulate me is worth more than thousand social media likes. Three wonderful people that added my birthday into their calendars and really wanted to send me a message while people I’ve know for decades didn’t give a fuck cause they now rely on Facebook to take care of that for them. I’m not complaining, I had a magical birthday with the groms surfing. I’m just saying: what the fuck? Is that how we want to use our new machines?

So what is the alternative? Well, Facebook should have been a protocol and not a public corporation. That means that just like mail which is built on protocols like POP and SMTP, social media should have had its own protocol so that developers could build apps that can serve mankind and not create fake news, mental illness, and hijack elections. I now understand why people in general didn’t believe the holocaust or any other massively unthinkable act of human cruelty cause it’s beyond our human grasp. We just don’t believe that anything created by human hands can be that bad for us.

But the examples are plentiful in history, from fast food to artificial beverages that destroy our bodies to pharmaceutical drugs that destroy our minds. Caffeine is a legal drug for the simple reason that a) it was possible to monetize through colonialization and b) it makes us more productive. Before caffeine we drank alcohol for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That was alright in the pre-industrial days but once we were hired to manage machines, being sober and focused made more economic sense.

The idea of Fewer Better Things is to liberate time, money, and attention to focus on what really matters. But figuring out what matters in life can be really hard. It takes reflection and effort, it ironically takes time, money, and attention. And it takes a whole lot of self-awareness, self-trust, and self-discipline. My 18-month pandemic survival / thrive plan wasn't just about staying busy at home getting into physical and metal shape and elevating some skills but scratching the surface of what it really means to be alive. It was about unleashing myself from the machine and taking the first steps into real human potential, freedom, and power.

But that doesn’t mean that I have to log out of society, I just have to be a little more mindful of how I decide to interact with society cause us as a group – if that’s how we’d like to define society – have very different needs and ambitions than I as an individual. Society does what ever it needs to protect the center but the real gold is always on the fringe – to me. And once the gold can be monetized without challenging the center (Internet, yoga, crypto, house sharing, social media, car sharing, caffeine, cannabis, surfing et cetera) it will become the new center, the new normal, the new mainstream.

So why not sit and wait until the fringe becomes the new center? Why not just trust and follow the masses? For the simple reason that we as human beings are uniquely equipped to expand our own consciousness and to create meaning that will only matter to our individual selves. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – caffeine, again, haha – to get up at 5 am every morning and then bike over to the beach at sunrise to look at the ocean and decide if it’s a good morning to surf. No, but it’s mine and to do that I need to make an important choice: do I stay up all night watching Netflix or chatting with friends on social media or do I go to bed early to get my eight hours so I don’t drown in the ocean the following day? Easy, so easy.

I feel very fortunate that I’ve replaced my old inherited and conditioned ambitions, striving for a successful career, hierarchical titles, social recognition, and the never-ending quest for material things and money with a drive to live life really well until my very last breathe. That said, they are of course not mutually exclusive. Money is good in the pocket, but the trouble begins when you let it fuck with your mind and it does. Most of the people I know who have made a lot of money spend their time living in fear of not having enough, not being able to make more, or even losing what they already have stockpiled, instead of living life well and appreciate what they have.

So with Fewer Better Things I’d like to offer my weekly perspective on things from the fringe as a counter-balance to the mainstream perspective. If you feel that Facebook is making you a better human being, healthier, and happier by staying in contact with hundreds or thousands of friends, then keep on truckin’, man. That’s your choice and intentional choice is freedom. My point of view, being a lifelong self-proclaimed outsider, will always be looking at things from the fringe to offer a second, or even a third alternative perspective.

If you think that’s valuable to do you then feel free to upgrade to a paid membership. I’ll not promise that I’ll deliver a lot more to paying subscribers (yet) other than being able to keep this newsletter going. What I like about Substack, and Cocoon – the for-pay Instagram alternative which they bought in August – is that it’s advertising free, very simple, and designed around a positive user experience. Are they going to become as big as Facebook? I doubt it, but they don’t need to with their alternative b-model but more importantly the world doesn’t need for them to.

And that’s freedom. Just like it’s freedom to not be a slave to my own ambitions which are mainly cleverly designed around the ego and the need for a sense of self-worth and meaning. By living on the fringe, in some but not all aspects of life, I can contribute with thought-provoking material, how I try to live on my own terms, and an alternative perspective that can be used however you like – reject, adopt, or just reflect upon.

Just to make it clear: I’m a firm believer in the market economy but not in monopolistic corporatism. I believe that with the right free and open Internet protocols we can unleash a prosperity and equality never seen before. If we could trade directly with each other, using the Internet as a global platform, we could create a much better market economy based on merits and not power or legacy. Instead of getting fed all these ads, telling us that we are incomplete human beings that need to be fixed, we could focus our time, money, and attention on fixing the bigger problems in the world (starvation, the climate crisis, viruses, deforestation, inequality et cetera).

Finally – phew this newsletter just rolled out of me– I’d like to tickle you with my next experiment which is kicking things up a notch and create a three-month self betterment program for myself. What I did during the past 18-months, I’m now going to do in three months but more targeted and focused. It’s not rocket science, just an intentional focus on leveling up my mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and financial capabilities. It’s about looking back at what really worked and do better: new habits, new boundaries (saying no), new deadlines, new schedule, and new execution.

Since I have subscribers from all around the world, I’ll release this newsletter from now on every Thursday so that it will reach all around the world – from California to New Zealand – before the weekend. Feel free to like and add comments, challenge, or build upon my thoughts. I’m hoping to create a place where new ideas can be presented in a respectful and civil matter, fueling peace and love, not division and hatred. We can all learn from each other if we actively listen more than we just wait for our turn to talk.

Peace out,

Per Håkansson

Encinitas, California