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The Problem with Facebook...

26 November 201011:32AMrants

Hey! This post is really old. You should take it with a grain of salt.

...Statuses: They're almost always vague, irritating, or totally irrelevant to me. I don't care that you "just ated a cookie", I don't care that you're "missing someone", and I really, really don't care how drunk you got last night. I wish people would think before hitting the post button, "Does everyone I know really need and/or want to know about this piece of information right now?" and if the answer is No, as it almost certainly is, backspace it, because everyone does not. Which leads me to my next point.

..."Friends": This is a symptom of the fact that Facebook exists on a computer, and thus can only comprehend a binary relationship without some serious programming hassle. This is the reason most of Facebook is the way it is: everything is reduced to an object with a simple binary indicator showing if there is or is not a relationship between it and another object. If that other object is a person, it's a "Friend", if it's a page, it's a "Like", and if it's a group it's a "Member". Needless to say, human relationships are not simple binary yes/no things. There are complex webs of acquaintance, familiariy, and relation which bring people together. Reducing it to a 1 or a 0 is frankly, a travesty and an insult to the remarkable complexity of human society. Is someone I've spoken to once a "Friend"? How about someone who I know well, but don't really get along with? Someone I see every day but never speak to save for a nod? That guy I ran into one time at a party and have never seen since, but we got along really well for the 30 minutes we knew each other? Attempting to sort your real life friendships into Yes/No is an impossibility and an absurdity.

...Population: This is a relatively simple one. Think about it in terms of time: If you're spending all your time updating Facebook, you're not out there doing interesting things, and if you're out there doing interesting things, you're not on Facebook. Hence, Facebook and _anything even vaguely interesting _are mutually exclusive, and thus the only people who update Facebook with any regularity are boring people, which thus floods the network with uninterestingness making interesting people stay away because of how brain dead boring it is. Call it inversely proportional, call it a vicious cycle- whatever you call it, the people who are on Facebook are, by and large, boring.

...'s Purpose: As in, total lack thereof. Think about it. Why do you need to spend hours of your life constructing an elaborate-yet-oversimplified computer model of all your relationships, interests, and other errata which constitutes your existence? Does the computer care? No (although the people on the other end of it do... but I'll get to that). Do your friends care? No, because they were either sharing the experiences of your life with you or will no doubt be regailed with tales of them next time you see them. "Aha!", says the Facebook addict in me, "What if you don't see them very often?". Well, frankly, there are better ways to keep in touch than a publicly-viewable length-limited wall post containing one photo or other item at a time. Heck, even boring old email does better than that, and we're not even getting started on things like Skype which let you pretty much be there. And that's just the internet... what's wrong with phoning someone to catch up every now and then, or hell, actually meeting up with them? Facebook fills a niche which didn't actually exist until Facebook was created to fill it, which doesn't really segue as nicely into my next point as I'd like, but still.

...'s Purpose: Yes, it's the same as the last one. Shut up. This purpose refers not to the purpose it serves you, but the purpose it serves its creators. I'm not really sure who said it (and I honestly can't be bothered Googling it (now there's a verbed noun if ever I saw one (Yes, I do like nested brackets, why do you ask?))) but essentially it's this: You are not Facebook's customers. You are their product and the advertisers are their customers. This is why they have you build a computer model of all your interactions for them, so that they can sell that model, along with a direct channel to reach you, to marketers so that they can more effectively sell crap to you. It's never been about you, or your friends, or what you really like. It's about how effectively Facebook can sell its services as a delivery system to squirt ads directly into your eye sockets.

There are a host of other problems, like the fact that the events system is too unilateral and inflexible for anything other than rigorously preplanned events, or the photos are low-resolution and lack any semblance of privacy control, but most of those are a symptom of the previous point, as they aren't really features- advertisers can't use them to sell stuff, so they aren't useful and therefore not improved (think about it- when was the last time the events interface or photo album got updated? and when was the last time the friends/fans/likes/groups/whatever-the-hell-they-call-it-now system-which- allows-you-to-build-your-little-computer-model-which-Facebook-can-sell was updated. Yeah.). Basically, it's not 'fun', it does not improve my life in any way, and it lets a company I frankly don't care about sell the details of my life to advertisers I never gave it permission to.

So this is it. I'm off. If you need me, I'm on literally everything else: I have MSN, and 3 email addresses, and a mobile, and even a goddamned _blog, _where if you lack any sense at all, you can read more stuff like this. Basically, if you want to talk to me, you'll manage. If you don't, I probably don't care about you anyway. Sure, it'll make it slightly harder to meet someone and instantly be in contact with them, but you know what? It's a challenge, and I relish it.

You have 35 days ( to write down my email, scrape my photos and bicker over adminship of my groups. January 1st 2011, I'm gone. If you'd like to stay in contact with me after that, drop me an email. The address is in my profile.

Thank you, and goodnight. 

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