Why I Hate Facebook
My problem is twofold.
First, Facebook itself is constantly changing and its interface is exceedingly frustrating to use. And, while I’m no technical genius, it’s fair to say that I’m a power user of the Internet, having spent upwards of twelve hours a day utilizing the Web for going on a decade. Initially, it was the wave of applications, which were opened up weeks after I joined Facebook. No, damn it, I don’t want to engage in a vampire war with you and, no, I don’t want to take a quiz to see how my movie preferences stack up with someone whose friend request I accepted because I vaguely knew who they were and didn’t want to hurt their feelings. And it seems that, just as I’ve figured out how to do something on the site, they change the layout.
Second, though, is a problem of my own creation that Laura McGann actually captures:
In the ensuing years it also became about rekindling old friendships or feeling smug about avoiding the same, promoting my work as a journalist, and showing loyalty to media outlets, causes, and yes, even brands. But somewhere in that transition from a social site meant to deepen interpersonal relationships to a self promotional, commercial tool, Facebook lost its appeal. The various facets of my life merged into a web of connectivity where I could no longer clearly create distinct relationships with friends, foes, and fast food — either because I can’t figure out how or because Facebook is preventing me outright. For me, the overwhelming connectivity to everyone and everything, without much control over those ties, feels like I’m no longer connected to anything, and meanwhile, outside groups benefit.
Those of us with a strong online presence have to figure out what we want out of the site and have tended to either not do so at all, never develop a consistent pattern of behavior, or figured out too late. I started out on Facebook using it mostly as a network for promoting OTB and interacting with people associated in some way with the site — co-bloggers, commenters, bloggers at other sites, and the like. Almost immediately, though, people I knew in “real life” also initiated friend requests and I likewise and, before I knew it, the personal and professional blurred in a way that was destructive to both.
I’ve got 657 Facebook “friends” and would have perhaps twice that number if I accepted all the requests. Maybe 100 of those people are actual friends, or at least people I know fairly well. Others are long-lost high school and college classmates. The lion’s share are either other bloggers, people I’ve met through blogging, or people with whom I have a vague business networking relationship. The remainder are an odd assortment of celebrities that I’ve “friended” for one reason or another, people who I accepted during periods when I was taking all comers, and people who I’ve met once and approved their request shortly after said meeting.
Now, obviously, I care about these “friends” to much different degrees. For my closest friends, I’m happy to see their latest photos and interested in updates about their life. For the most remotely connected of my “friends,” I’m happy to share mutual access to our profiles and the ability to send the occasional message but, otherwise, I don’t want a feed of information. Those in between are, well, in between those extremes.
Were I starting out on Facebook now, I’d probably have just a personal profile for close friends and family — perhaps also including former classmates and work associates with whom I haven’t remained close — and either simply a “page” for OTB or a separate profile (say, “JamesOTB”) altogether for that purpose. But, not having done it that way, I mostly don’t use Facebook. Indeed, my Facebook messages have, for quite some time, simply gone directly into a Gmail folder that I seldom look at.
Again, this is mostly my fault rather than Facebook’s. But they do their best to make fixing any of it next to impossible. They’ve given me the ability to create “lists” but, as with McGann, that’s not only unwieldy but socially awkward. More importantly, the bizarre interface of the site is such that I can’t figure out how to limit the news feed I get from my “friends” come only from the list of my closest friends. (Yes, I’ve Googled. The site changes so often that the instructions are no longer applicable.)