Volume No. 18 Issue No. 2 February 2021  

  Facebook rant and minimalism
  Mark Stoller

     Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   Last month, I digitally de-cluttered my email queue of unwanted mailing lists, and deleted social media accounts. I kept Facebook, as a necessary evil, because of organizational pages.
   Well, Facebook has pushed me too far.
   Recently, I found Facebook instituted a category in your account settings called “Off-Facebook Activity.” This is a complete, absolute and unacceptable abuse of privacy.
   This section collects your internet activity and receives your purchase information from other websites such as banking, shopping — among others. They had collected my bank and website purchase data from before Thanksgiving.
   With most social media sites, we log in, browse, react, comment, etc., and never really look deeper at the settings and categories the application continues to quietly build.
   The terms of use today are a far cry more complex than the ones I agreed to years ago when I established these accounts.
   In Facebook, under Account — select Settings & Privacy, choose Settings, select Your Facebook Information, and find the Off-Facebook Activity link.
   From here, you can first marvel at everything they have collected on you, then delete the collected history; and finally turn off future collections of your internet data.
   Next, take a long look at the Access Your Information section. It will display a gallery of categories pertaining to every post, photo, video, comment, likes, reactions, friends, stories, messages, groups, events, profile information, following/follower data since you first signed up. The Information About You section is another collection of businesses, search history, location data, About You, security, log-in information, topics you view, voice recording, and voice transcripts if you uploaded a video. There is a link to request a full download report on your activity.
   Back in my days as an intelligence analyst, these are the same categories of data we used to create target dossiers for individuals of interest.
   Silence is consent. Even though my information resides on their servers for eternity, I will dump Facebook and put a stop to their abusive/intrusive policies.
   Ditching an application I no longer value leads me to a fantastic show I found on Netflix called, “The Minimalists – Less is Now.”
   The show stars Johua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus as the Minimalists – two guys who became fast friends in the fifth grade, lived through hard family situations and poverty.
   The show co-stars Dave Ramsey (“The Total Money “), Annie Leonard (executive director of Greenpeace), T.K. Coleman (director, Foundation for Economic Education), Edwin McManus (founder, MOSAIC) and Dr. Denaye Barahona (founder, Simple Families).
   For reference, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.
   Together, the cast provides experience and expert advice to answer the question, “How might your life be better with less?”
   On average, when it comes to possessions — as you get more space, you get more stuff. As you get more stuff, you need more space — which leads to garages, basement and storage units full of forgotten excess.
   This 53-minute show is packed with incredible material, statistics, examples of how we are manipulated consumers and reasons why we should minimize the non-essential items to focus on the essential time and people in our lives.
   There are many internet sites with guides to de-cluttering your home and lifestyle. To begin, though, you must identify your values and how your possessions support/reflect those values. Once identified, you can go through your treasure trove and categorize your belongings as essential, non-essential or junk.
   As the minimalists say, “We aren’t hoarders. We just hang on to a lifetime of collected memories.”
   We are currently decluttering utilizing three criteria questions: Is this essential? Is this necessary? Will this add value to my life?
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