It’s time I went public with this: I totally do NOT “get” Facebook. In fact, despite having giving Facebook plenty of chances, I find it to be the most boring, tedious, horrendous time waster that I’ve ever encountered.
(Right about here I duck under a table to avoid the flying objects -virtual flying objects, of course – hurled by all of you who love Facebook.)
I joined Facebook a few months back because of the library. The library has a Facebook page to announce teen events, so I figured it would behoove me to at least put in an appearance as a “fan” of the library. And I’ve become a fan of my favorite tea company, my favorite online clothing store, and Mother Goose on the Loose. I’ve even gained a few friends – a very few friends. And most recently, I’ve joined the alumni group for my college class, since there is a class reunion coming up this spring. But I’m still bored.
Here’s what I dislike about Facebook (prepare to be pissed off, you Facebook lovers):
It minimizes human contact, so that people are communicating via little badly written blurbs and comments. I like talking to people, face-to-face and on the phone. I don’t like trying to sound clever and cute in a one sentence update on my life.
It brings people back into your life who have long since moved on, and who have moved on for good reason. Many friendships have a shelf life, and once the friendship has expired, it’s in everyone’s best interest to let things go. I probably don’t have much in common now with the friends I had in my late twenties. But I have new friends now with whom I share quite a bit.
It encourages a highschool popularity mentality, even when you’re resisting that trap. I’m way past highschool, and would like to think that I’m mature, but when I see that both of my siblings have over a hundred friends each, and I only have five friends, I start to feel my ego shrink and my posture change and I feel again like the braces-ridden runty highschool freshman that I once was. No thanks. I don’t need that.
It’s an absolute time suck. If I were to become a Facebook junkie, I would lose valuable time that I could spend reading, creating, socializing, blogging (yes, I know, I need to be more consistent with that), or taking an afternoon nap on a weekend. Or cooking or cleaning or volunteering or planting a garden or getting in shape.
But I don’t want anyone to think that I’m a techno-dud. I have a favorite Facebook alternative: Goodreads. Goodreads allows me to see what some of my favorite authors are reading (Gabrielle Zevin, Neil Gaiman), and what those authors think of the books they’ve just read. Gabrielle Zevin gave 5 stars to that book, and says it’s the best thing she’s read in years? I think I’ll go find a copy and read it, too. Goodreads also keeps me in touch with my friends who are voracious readers, and I can read their ratings and reviews on books they’ve read. Peggy slammed that book, giving it only 2 stars? I trust Peggy’s judgement, so I think I’ll skip reading that book. And, Goodreads keeps me accountable for what I read. I find that I forgo television or watching a DVD more often now so that I can settle down and read a book and then post my review on Goodreads. I don’t want to look like a literary slacker, after all. And guess what? I have more friends on Goodreads that I do on Facebook.
So now I’ve got two questions: How long can something as inane as Facebook survive? And how many of you are mad at me right now?
4 thoughts on “That whole Facebook thing”
I’m not mad at you, but it’s true, you have not yet “gotten” Facebook. I’ll write a longer blog entry explaining why I appreciate Facebook. It’s actually part of a larger research project I’m doing. A short answer: Facebook, when used well, is not a replacement for human contact or connections; it’s a tool that can augment exactly those. Check my blog http://www.jeanharper.org later today…
Most of your critiques of Facebook are spot on. It’s a somewhat useful communications tool, combining as it does an email-like capability with online chat. Some people are using it as a micro-blogging tool. There are tons of social networking tools out there, some of which work better than Facebook. And Facebook is not much more useful than AOL was in its heyday (yeah, remember when AOL members had blogs, and chat rooms, and Web sites?). Technologically, it’s no better than lots of other similar tools — a combination of good marketing and lots of luck just made it more popular.
It’s just another online tool. We have tons of online tools now. You can’t use them all, so you pick the ones which work for your needs. No need to be on Facebook.
I agree with most of what you said as well. Personally, I have about 115 friends and I was completely shocked when I saw that. However, I have two categories of ‘friends’ on there – friends and acquaintances. My friends (which there are about 15 of) can see all my information I have on there, whereas my acquaintances can see very little (pretty much just basic info like where I go to school). They’re not really friends so I didn’t initially friend any of them, but I go to school with them and it’s the only way I have to get in touch with some of them if I need to. i do agree that some people are trying to show that they can have more friends than you (one of my friends has over 600 friends), but I think it can be used just as a way to keep contacts.
That being said, I’m not trying to get you to like it; I just wanted to let you know how I use it.
Thanks for all the good input, everyone! I still won’t be using Facebook much (it simply doesn’t work for me or fit into my life), but I love hearing how other people view Facebook.
But I think it’s interesting that not one of you mentioned Goodreads in your comments! 🙂
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