Facebook, GOOD GOD Y’ALL

What is it good for? It’d be too glib to add the next line of the song, because it does have some purpose, but after three years being a member of the bloody thing, I seem to have developed quite an antipathy for it (unlike, say, Twitter, which remains playful and stupid and intentionally superficial).

So, the pros:

  • Friends. There are dozens of people in my Friends list who I like, and my life would be less good if they were little more than a forgotten memory. Admittedly, there are probably dozens I will never speak to again in my life, but losing this small connection would be like losing an old address book. And when something does come of it, something surprising and delightful that actually does add to my current happiness, it’s like an unexpected, free bonus.
  • Friends’ updates: essentially the same as Twitter, though you can comment on them. A moderately interesting way to spend 30 seconds every now and then.
  • Friends’ messages: I’d rather they emailed/wrote/called or whatever, but if Facebook means I communicate with good people I otherwise wouldn’t, then that’s a plus.
  • Friends’ Photos: I don’t much like Facebook’s photo albums, but many people seem to use it like I use Flickr, and why not.

And that’s about it for the positives, and they’re all, you’ll notice, about maintaining contact with people I like. As for the negatives, it seems churlish to complain about all the things which so many people moan about over and over and over again. But I’m going to anyway.

  • Friends sending me information I don’t care about. As in real life, this is okay up to a point. But Facebooks enables people to get way beyond that point, with their quizzes and games and faux-sociological crap, and most of the time they don’t even realise they’re being annoying.
  • The vast majority of people, groups, events and everything else that enters my field of vision beyond the cosy confines of my Friends. Most people are, fundamentally, stupid, bigoted idiots, and Facebook likes to shove them in my face.
  • The whole “privacy thing”. I could probably do a whole blog post on this alone if I tried, but in short: fundamentally, as soon as we decide to put personal information of any kind into the hands of a commercial organisation on a public network like the internet, we lose any kind of real privacy. We relinquish it, voluntarily, and we accept that information about us not only becomes public domain, but will be collected and used. HOWEVER, we can control the extent to which this lack of privacy extends, and Facebook makes this such an obscenely labyrinthine process (and one where every now and again they move the goalposts by changing their rules) that it’s near impossible to reach a level with which we can be happy. It becomes an impediment, a weight, and makes the whole thing feel icky. And this is on top of how non-intuitive a vast amount of the site has always been.
  • The financial aspect. I can’t have any problem with Facebook being a commercial enterprise (I wish it wasn’t, but that’s not how it works). I see friends who have joined, for example, the group “We Will Not Pay To Use Facebook“. Well, I don’t want to pay for Facebook either, but I don’t believe I have some divine right to use it for free for ever (Not to mention the statement of intent behind that group’s purpose, which is logically redundant and almost certainly wrong as well as being clueless, entitled nonsense). But I also am not sure that I’m comfortable using it as is. I mean, have a look at these ads:

Am I the only one who feels deflated and slightly sick at the way they’re taking my personal (but freely given) information and using it in such a crass, phoney (no pun intended) way to try and sell me something? Targeted advertising is one thing (and I find it hard to criticise on a moral level – the info’s there, so provide me with an advertising experience – god, I can barely believe I’m writing that – which might be of interest, rather than carpet-bombing me with irrelevancies), but this is just nasty, cynical stuff. And look at the “like” button underneath. Who in holy fuck thinks I’m going to approve this ugliness.

I’m sure you can read from my tone that my whole Facebook experience is poisoned by crap like this. I’m a cynical, pragmatic 21st century wanker, I’m used to this shit, but somehow this is a whole new level of turd. And see, it’s made me swear! And use three different words for excrement!

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  1. I’ve grown to like FB more than I did, but yeah, when I got the ad for ‘Are you a 29 year old woman who uses phones do you want some cellular minutes’ or whatever it said, I baulked somewhat.

  2. I like when my mom doesn’t understand snark and posts confused messages on my FB. It’s endearing.

    FB has created some new and weird ways of communicating with people, and it turn, new and weird ways of ignoring said people.

    That said, I like that my mom is on FB. It cracks me up everytime she writes “You go girl!”, which is a lot.

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