There is a lot of crap on Facebook, no doubt about it. I just visit it once a day for a quick browse. I don't do any of the games or surveys or countless other applications. There are usually funny photos that get posted or silly things people I know like to 'share'. Like: Do we really need a Lysol product scented like Lavender? Wouldn't the scent put you to sleep before you finish the kitchen floor? (silly stuff like that) Also my Facebook friends often share interesting news articles. (I think it's dangerous to complain about work, however...and I am always amazed that some people don't see the danger in THAT. Like the nitwits you mentioned...IT'S PUBLIC INFORMATION!)
You should find some news sites that interest you and "like" them. I found that once I started seeing interesting and funny articles in my news feed, I was more interested in facebook. If you like to geek out, Laughing Squid is an awesome site to follow. The Oatmeal is hilarious for snarky grammar comics. I follow Jon Stewart for updates, I've got a bunch of science sites followed. It really does make it a more interesting place. I don't know what you're into, but you should search random stuff and see what comes up. If you have any favorite websites you should see if they have a facebook page.
I find that the more involved you are with someone on a personal level, the faster things are going to go badly. I generally only add people I have direct contact with, or because of guilt. If my annoying aunt adds me as a friend, I'm going to feel obligated to friend her. Even if that means I'm just going to "hide" her the next day. She will probably end up hiding me too, because if I don't like her bullshit, she's not going to like mine.
Personally, I have no interest in my childhood friends. I'm content allowing people from my past to stay there. I feel that if I need to be in contact with a person, I won't need a social networking site to bring us together. I also don't use it to advertise what is going on in my personal life. I feel like the people who need to know those details will know those details without having to enter a username and password. I generally share news articles I find interesting, comics or pictures. I don't feel bad about declining someone's friend request because... it's just facebook. :)
So my recommendation to make facebook less annoying is to find and follow sites that interest YOU and forget about the other people on your friends list. It's your page, so you should enjoy your experience. I have very little tolerance for crappy posts so I've customized my page to really suit MY interests; the people who bother me no longer appear, so I'm don't feel like anger is just waiting for me. If someone is a habitual crappy-poster they're probably not going to change. You can always visit their page directly if you're curious as to what they're saying.
Get familiar with the "hide" options, it will become your best friend and fail-safe. Good luck and thanks for letting me ramble, sorry about any typos - it's been a long day.
I use it to promote my blogs. I write under a pen-name, so recently set up a FB account under that name. I link to my blogs and also share posts etc from others. Is a way to read interesting posts from others too. Most of these people I've never met.
I don't use the one under my real name much. It has a bunch of people from my past like happy clappy christians & people from school I barely remember. I have a note on there if anyone wants to read my blogs about losing my faith in god, then contact me. Only the non-judgemental christians did so.
I was reluctant to join facebook, as thought I wouldn't have friends (I'm not a very social person). There are some friends I lost contact with long ago but most are acquaintances and relatives I hardly know.