Facebook’s Dirty Secret

Using Facebook nowadays, I feel like an old woman dipping her toes into social-networking waters. Calling out to my son to ask how to comment and how to look at Aunt Judy’s new album of her new cat. In my me-as-old-woman fantasy, it’s a Siamese cat, and I get to use a Mac Book Air, but have no clue how to.

Since joining Facebook in 2006, I have survived through dozens of website design changes. The newest change literally puts a live-action news feed in the top-right corner of your already existing news feed. Soon, it will release the “Timeline” feature which will confuse me further. But why must Facebook make changes? Why are people up in arms about this? Simply, read on.

When I first joined, Facebook looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

Soon, it will look like this:

So, what’s up with the changes? Well, a site like Facebook can’t afford to not evolve. With Google + as a new viable competitor, Facebook must……. oh, who am I kidding? Google + doesn’t stand a chance.

Sure, it will gain new users after the “change,” but really the change might help us. Now, I no longer have to spend hours of the day checking each person’s status to see what comments were left. Now, Facebook does that for me. So, do you need to stalk your ex or find out where the nearest party is? Well, it now requires absolutely no work.

Facebook repeatedly puts us all on the same level of clueless confusion. Once our parents and grandparents joined Facebook, our generation laughed at their ineptitude. But now we find ourselves… scrambling for answers.

No, Facebook! You’ve taken away our savvy, our only source of pride. Now we’re on the same level as our grandparents. We are old ladies using the internet for the first time.

Well, at least they haven’t figured out Google + yet.

So, maybe, this is a conspiracy to knock us down a level. I’m watching you, Zuckerburg. I’m watching…


3 thoughts on “Facebook’s Dirty Secret

  1. Rest assured, Derek, Facebook is not changing a thing for me. I don’t use it and don’t plan on it. I still don’t understand why people my age (50s) are using it, knowing it was originally designed as a way for college kids to “hook up” with each other. We Baby Boomers think everything is for us. We have simply run amok! (I’m totally excluding myself, you understand.) 😉

    Great post, Derek!

  2. I’ve had a bad feeling about Facebook for a long time now, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something is wrong. I can feel it. I advised everyone who would listen to stay away from the public offering. As it turned out, my fear, at least regarding the offering was well founded. The market also had misgivings, but I suspect for the wrong reasons. The market sees everything in terms of dollars and cents. But Facebook’s problems are much deeper than simple lack of revenue.

    Facebook sees itself as a “social network.” In fact, the hit movie describing it’s founder’s experience creating it is called “The Social Network.” At last count, Facebook was closing in on a billion users and according to “The Anatomy of the Facebook Social Graph” published by researchers at Facebook, Cornell and the University, and available here: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1111.4503v1.pdf, the average Facebook user has about 190 “friends.” And that’s the average. Many have hundreds, even thousands.

    That’s the splinter in my mind. In my experience, I’ve never met anyone with 190 friends, at least, not by my definition of “friend.” A friend is someone with whom you have a bond of mutual affection. Forming friendships requires effort and time. Friends don’t come that easy. It’s simply not possible to have a bond of mutual affection with 190 people. There isn’t enough time in the day to spend the kind of quality time necessary to form that many friendships. Forming friendships is a “high touch” experience and can’t be done over a wire. What Facebook describes as a “friend” is, at best, simple an acquaintance.

    The thousand pound gorilla in the boardroom at Facebook headquarters is the reality that Facebook is not “social” at all, and in fact an argument could be made that it is, in fact antisocial – the time you spend staring at a computer screen is time not spent with real, living friends. Avid Facebook users, the users that actually post stuff to their “walls,” spend hours alone staring at their computers. The more “friends” you’re connect to, the more time you must spend scanning their posts, answering superficial emails, and glancing at meaningless pictures of someone else’s life – even if it’s just to delete, erase, or re-tag.

    When Facebook was conceived, it was exclusive to Harvard students. It was cool, because it was exclusive. Even after it opened to other Ivy League schools it was still exclusive and cool. But as Facebook has opened to include everyone who can “fog the mirror,” and even faceless companies that can’t, it has become less and less cool. In fact Facebook is now down right common.

    Also, when Facebook was exclusive, posting information was less problematic. Posting compromising information and photos that only your Harvard buddies can view is far less troublesome than launching personal information into the “wild” of the world. It’s like a poker player in the game of life laying his cards on the table for all to see – it can only hurt. Every tech savvy person I know shuns posting anything on Facebook because once it’s out, you can never get it back.

    So to summarize, Facebook is not cool anymore and it can be down right dangerous. Facebook had it’s fifteen minutes of fame, but the party is over and no one knows that better than insiders at Facebook. They waited too long to go public and they’re paying the price in real dollars now.

    I admire Mark Zuckerberg and I think he’s brilliant. Like many successful products, in retrospect, you wonder why someone else didn’t think of Facebook long ago. I’m not saying there’s no value in cloud networking, just not where friendship is concerned.

    Linkedin.com comes closer to realizing true value in cloud networking. They’re focused and “all about” simply making connections, but’s that’s another blog.


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