Obligatory Facebook Whinging

My main issues, in the form of a numbered list:

1. My strongest reaction to the recent and forthcoming changes on Facebook is dismay at the frequency with which it changes. It all seems so gratuitous, in a way. If it works, why change it? (Of course, I’m thinking that I’m actually the customer here. Silly me.) If my employer changed the interface on its products every three to four months, we would hear no end of complaints from the customers. Somehow Facebook is immune to complaints.

2. Facebook has changed so much, adding features that I haven’t yet wrapped my head around, that at some point I will have to devote a couple of hours to just relearning how to use the site. There’s a reason why, though curious, I haven’t tried Second Life or online games: I don’t want to spend my computer leisure time trying to figure stuff out. But I’ll have to spend the time on Facebook, if only to avoid inadvertently messing up privacy settings. I’m not looking forward to this.

3. Yeah, sure, maybe the forthcoming Timeline thing is pretty neat… well, I don’t know, actually. It’s not something I was looking for. I haven’t seen anyone try to justify it, either. Maybe I haven’t read enough news coverage. I don’t know what’s supposed to be in it for me or for Facebook’s corporate partners. If I wanted something like that, I’d probably be writing my memoirs already. Is this something that appeals to young people that as an old fart I won’t “get”?

4. I have an LJ, a Flickr account, and a Twitter account. Why do I need Facebook? Oh, for all the people who I know who don’t come to those other places. I see. It’s not quite that simple, I suppose, but that’s most of the reason I am on Facebook along with these other places. And yet, except during LJ outages, Facebook is the most irritating of the group.

Aren’t you glad I gave this a descriptive title, so you could skip it if you didn’t want to read one more complaint about Facebook?

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About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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11 Responses to Obligatory Facebook Whinging

  1. vaneramos says:

    I’m glad you posted this and that I saw it because I wasn’t aware of the changes. I guess I’ve been too busy without social media.

  2. changeling72 says:

    I guess if they charged they might listen to users’ opinions. I’ve all but given up on Facebook.

    • songdogmi says:

      Perhaps they are listening to the ones who are paying them money, which might be the companies who use Facebook’s database (i.e., the stuff we put there). Maybe we can’t complain that FB is unresponsive to customers, at least not the paying customers.

      I haven’t done much with Facebook this week other than read it. Maybe this weekend I will be able to study it and figure out what to do with the new features.

  3. zenicurean says:

    Well, you are the customer, but in a lot of ways you also constitute the actual product. After all, it’s a social networking site. Information about you, or produced by you, is its lifeblood.

    • songdogmi says:

      I’m the customer AND the product. Look at me, I’m multi-tasking!

      I’m just not sure that all the information we put up there could be useful. Some of it, yes, and I suppose computing power is so cheap that it’s trivial to sort through all the chaff for the wheat. I must admit that I’m already thinking twice when I post something, wary that I’ll invite unwanted advances from some marketer.

      • zenicurean says:

        I know what you mean — me, I try to avoid getting entangled with social networking like it were a Biblical plague. (Extremely select avenues like LiveJournal excepted, of course, but even then I try and keep as anonymous as possible.)

      • songdogmi says:

        You mean your name isn’t really Zenicurean???

        Speaking as one who has gotten entangled in Facebook, at least (I think I could vanish, unmissed, from Twitter), I doubt I could transition some of my relationships there to, say, plain old e-mail and telephone. I’m thinking mostly of relationships with my relations, cousins to be specific. Granted, we weren’t in touch for years, and that might give the impression that contact isn’t that important, but now that we are in contact on Facebook, we’ve actually all gotten together once, and that was good. I’m reluctant to walk away from that, but it will take a lot of effort to continue with it in the context of Facebook, I fear. Unless I just acquiesce and let Zuckerberg have everything he wants, I suppose.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Facebook (like Google) has no respect for individual users or their needs, and certainly no respect for privacy. It’s all a sham. They are selling numbers the same way a popular magazine sells numbers… to advertisers or would-be advertisers.

    Once I figured this out, I deleted my Facebook account. It isn’t a simple thing to do, but it can be done. And I haven’t missed it either.

    Google+, Google’s new Facebook-wannabe, is just as bad and in some respects worse. I won’t be using them at all, and I suspect this will be the “service” that forces Google to erase its “Don’t be evil” motto.

    • songdogmi says:

      See, I keep trying to figure out why we Facebook users are supposed to want all this stuff. FB’s help docs tell us “You can do this! You can do that!” but they don’t say why. I don’t see the need to put my whole biography on a timeline for everyone to see. The people who I would want to know that info do know it; in most cases they were there when it happened.

      I find myself wondering if the people who run FB, specifically Mr. Zuckerberg, have a fundamentally different view of how users are supposed to work with the site from ours. We who’ve been here a long time are used to the Internet being a place where we can make our virtual selves with exactly as much info as we want people to know. Is FB supposed to be for people with no qualms about their real life — and no fantasy life at all, or no need to separate fantasy from reality? And has Zuckerberg never met a would-be transgendered person, or a Furry, or someone else who needs anonymity and privacy to fully explore him/herself?

      Well, perhaps, as you and a lot of other commentators have said, they’re not thinking of users at all. They’re thinking only of “business partners” who might acquire the data for their own purposes. I don’t really know what it would serve them for me to fully populate a timeline, but I suppose we’re not supposed to care about that.

      And I agree with you about Google+. If nothing else, I’d expect Google to go farther faster than Facebook, because (1) they’re starting from almost scratch but with plenty of examples, and (2) they’re bigger and stronger.

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