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Digital Overload
Digital Overload

By Darren Johnson

Campus News

Eventually, when we moved away from a house we had lived in for over 10 years, we realized that we had gathered more junk than we could fit in the huge moving truck I’d rented.

The junk was mostly stuff we’d pick up at thrift stores and garage sales and kept in the basement. A lot of it I’d fix and resell online, but not everything was marketable. So on the curb we piled the items we couldn’t take with us — a cheap air-hockey table, an Atari with no joysticks, commercial VHS tapes of movies long forgotten.

Completely random. And the curb soon resembled a thrift store, “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” next to a Batman doll with no legs.

Or maybe my curb looked like an episode of “Hoarders,” before the shut-in cleans up his house. The Talking Heads aptly described it as “my lifetime piling up” in the 1980s.

And, especially since they changed their algorithm the other day, my Facebook is going the same way.

I’m usually a step or two ahead, technologically, of everyone else — so you should start experiencing this soon. And maybe enough people will share a similar experience and Facebook will die under all the clutter.

A few years ago, Facebook seemed like the old TV show “This Is Your Life.” Here’s your Aunt Martha, your high school sweetheart, your youth volleyball coach… How sweet and poignant.

And, soon after, here’s a guy you met once at a dinner party, here’s a newspaper’s headline, a daily comic strip. Still manageable.

Then, after a while — and this happens to me even though I work to keep my friends list tight — you have to deal with posts from the radical-right shut-in you kind of feel sorry for so don’t delete, the young relative who, frankly, has been acting a bit trashy (“Another tattoo?! You have kids and no job!”), and the guy you were friends with in 5th grade who is a fan of some obscure sports team posting something like, “Wow! Did you see that goal! 2-0!” and three people click “like” even though they have no clue what he means.

So Facebook went from “This Is Your Life” to “Hoarders,” but we are hoarding the random postings of various people we would barely ever think about otherwise. These people are weighing us down with their junk!

I just opened my Facebook — and here is my news feed in order. Talk about a “lifetime piling up!”

  • A Photoshop of Hillary Clinton with a long, Pinocchio nose.
  • The story of a hero soldier who died saving a comrade.
  • A meme with “Twilight Zone” host Rod Serling decrying money in politics.
  • A meme with Kermit the Frog insinuating the FBI has already elected Hillary Clinton president.
  • A Vice article that reads, “I went to a sex party where only beautiful people were allowed in.” That fare is all they seem to publish of late.
  • A community college’s dean’s list.
  • A sponsored post by Doctors Without Borders. I’m sure it’s a worthy cause, but…
  • A post making fun of Yahoo! News, with a screenshot of the headline under “News”: “Let Kourtney Kardashian’s expired makeup horror story be a lesson for us all.”
  • A post about vertical farming in New Jersey.
  • A meme about being fat and wanting to lose weight.
  • An article about nuclear power on Long Island.
  • Someone’s thoughts on “Game of Thrones.”
  • Another anti-Hillary meme. Who makes these?
  • A guy I knew a bit 10 or 15 years ago posts that he is starting an exercise regimen.
  • A quote from Harry S. Truman about money in politics.
  • A picture of a lost cat in a town 200 miles away.
  • A college I used to work for’s throwback black and white photo from 1982. They didn’t have color by then?
  • A video showing us “the huge secret that Princess Diana knew.”
  • Yet another “friend” with a Ponzi scheme, trying to sell health supplements by giving us hollow inspirational quotes and meaningless photos of flowers and pastures, or whatever.
  • Someone selling real estate in a place I can’t afford.
  • Someone asking for prayers because he has bronchitis.
  • Someone I went to grade school with’s summer vacation photos.
  • A meme comparing Jimmy Carter’s charity work for the poor to Donald Trump’s bad behavior.
  • A guy who’s going through a divorce’s passive-aggressive, anti-women memes.

You get the point. In fact, you just read 25 bullet points. They are pointless! And now I’ve piled this burden on you!

A recent study linked heavy Facebook use to depression. I can see why.

The late, wise comedian George Carlin said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. … Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.”

And just like we moved, leaving so much stuff on the curb, it may just be better to find a new house — a new Facebook-type site — and start fresh. It’s just easier. So what’s next?


Contact Darren Johnson at