Saturday, February 21, 2009

Facebook blues

TexterBlog2
"Going mobile," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"When a (wo)man is tired of Facebook, s/he is tired of life."
-- Sammi Johnson, 2009

"For a generation of older Americans, exposing their precise location around the clock to an army of little brothers for marketing and advertising purposes is a privacy invasion." NY Times


I don't "get" Facebook. I'm worried about this. Please advise.

I set up an account some time ago just to see what was happening but stopped visiting after several tries. Then, suddenly in the past few months, my inbox began to flood with Friend Requests from family & friends. Clearly, Facebook had reached some kind of media tipping point & a major migration of Late Adapters was underway. Now, I reasoned I'll be able to figure out what all the fuss is about.

Not yet.

So far I have received a number of Status Updates -- "Twinkle Merriweather can't decide between the blue or the green paint for her new toilet seat" -- "Rocco Stillwater is tranquil but confused." -- that sort of thing. I confess I'm just not getting fired-up enough to dive into these issues.

Then there are the Quiz Challenges -- "What's your IQ?"-- "Are you Irish?" Etc. These sound interesting but when I work through them & click for my score, I'm asked 1) to join another website 2) to choose 20 friends the quiz will be sent to 3) to type in my cell phone number. If I want to learn my score, these tasks are not optional. They're mandatory.

OK, I'm asking: Is it conspiratorial thinking to regard as unreasonable a web transaction that demands access to the most reliable device ever invented to track my daily location (cell phone) in return for a dubious test result? Does it seem normal to you that I should buttonhole 20 friends to tell them what they already know -- that I'm Irish?

What am I missing here? Fellow addicts out there, pitch your product. How come I'm not getting high?

19 comments:

Jack said...

Tim,

It sounds like you passed the IQ test by not taking it.

I'm with you; I don't get it either. I'm also puzzled by Twitter.

markal said...

You have delved far deeper into it than I have. I think I get it, but I'm not interested. Flickr is as much "social networking" as I can handle and it isn't really social networking. I don't even own a cell phone, one of the three other people in Japan who don't.

catt55 said...

well Tim it's like this...instead of people actually SPEAKING to one another - hence all those earbuds in place and all those handheld electronic devices to keep everyone at bay - people now log on to find out what their friends and family and other associates are thinkingfeelingdoing 24/7 - beats picking up the phone and talking, or just having a nice informal chat with someone in the flesh -whenever I make conversation with people they act as if I have the plague and might them with my mundanity...but I am using FB now basically reconnecting with my old high school classmates in advance of our 40th reunion in 2012, who've suddenly come together in our middle-age...so there are some good aspects...and it's really about narcissm - I mean don't y'all want to know what I had for dinner and how happy/sad/annoyed/stupid I am feeling???

Tim Connor said...

On Facebook, Teresa Stern wrote:
"I enjoyed your blog post, Tim. But here's the funny part: i tried to leave a witty comment, and it wouldn't let me until I signed my life away to google. So I guess we're all stuck in a giant spider web. And we're the fly."

My reply:
"Ha. Touche! You're right, we're all in the shadow of the spider & there's no escape. All I can say about the google blog setup is they demand you give your soul once to the devil & then he has the good taste to leave you more or less alone till collection time. Less nickel & diming from the google devil than the facebook devil perhaps -- or maybe I just don't know how to turn off the nickel & dime switches. Anyway, I like the google process better. All you have to do, after a long life of fabulous blogging power, is turn over your eternal soul. Pfffft. . "

Tim Connor said...

From Flickr, chuckwheat writes:
"...I have similar experiences & feelings regarding facebook. A friend summed up its true value: Friends post upcoming events, parties, whatever, that she might not know about otherwise.
The rest is yak-yak.
If I am doing nothing, why do anything to announce that fact? "

Carolinux said...

Tim

Our parents had radio. Sinatra. Phonograph records.

We had TV. The Stones. CDs.

Our kids have the Internet. ::runawayDorothy:: slotmusic...



The fact that we don't "get" it makes the argument even more compelling...

-bob evans

Carolinux said...

tim

here's something I never thought of........

http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/worklife/01/28/cb.facebook.boss.friend/

(to me, facebook.com is a web page, nothing more, nothing less... i guess it never occurred to me that it is more than that to others...)


-be

Carolinux said...

http://www.tinyurl.com/facebookboss

Tim Connor said...

Bob, Thanks for those links. I've also come across a couple of anxious stories about how parents should handle facebook -- should they friend their kid? e.g.

I mean, of course "...it's a website, nothing more, nothing less," but it's people's behavior that's really the issue. The prevailing idea that more choice equals more freedom isn't such a simple truth, even if Bush-era ideologues want it to be. Sure choice is way better than No choice. And choice generally means diversity, which is interesting. On the other hand there's nothing that guarantees people are going to choose what's good for them. And frankly, the power of these new technologies is almost impossible to resist.

This is even more true in a capitalist society with profit motive in the driver's seat. Once a lot of people start making a particular choice it becomes "the winner" & any other way becomes "the loser," which the whole system then tends to drive toward extinction. So everybody starts getting cellphones. Now pay phones no longer make money or even pay for themselves & , arguably, they no longer serve an important social need. So pay phones disappear. (Try to find one that works in NYC).Now you NEED to have a cellphone.

I predict the same thing is going to happen with the cool google maps in iphones & other devices. People will navigate with the phones & street signs will start to thin out, maybe disappear. Now you will NEED an iphone.

Man, I don't know. I don't want to go the old fart/curmudgeon route... But I do want to make actual choices, not just go along with this powerful technology even if it doesn't make sense to me.

Anyway, good to hear from you. Sorry to talk your ear off here. I told myself, can the tirades ...oh well.

Blake Andrews said...

Although I can understand why Facebook might be interesting for some people, it's not for me.

As for Twitter, its appeal completely escapes me. Why would anyone feel the need to give constant updates on their life, and more mysteriously why would anyone else pay attention?

I think everyone should go outside for a while...

Melz said...

Ah, the traceability of the Internet. I've actually found FB to be rather good at allowing you to tailor your privacy settings and stop all those annoying updates being sent to your email - but agree that those sidebar and inserted IQ ads and such are annoying. But realize, as Teresa points out, that most anything online now requires sign-on crap and/or ways to post and track you and your comments/activities. etc.. Given that over 30% of employers now screen the web information on potential hires (this number will surely rise), it is highly prudent to think twice before Twittering or having a friend post that embarrassing party photo - shades of Michael Phelps. That said, I still love reconnecting with folks going all the way back to preschool. I do worry, however, about those who seem to be posting or doing status updates daily or hourly. But at least the world is now expressing themselves and interacting which I think is much better than passive TV viewing!

Melz said...

Oh, and apparently Shaq Twitters!

http://tinyurl.com/bv3h77

Carolinux said...

No problem regarding tirades. I blasted some technology editor at washingtonpost.com last week for their piece on 'the face book bill of rights...'

We have 17K boys & girls heading into battle in afghanistan...(oh, my bad. heading into "harms way". Is "Harm's Way" near "Sesame Street"? )


and in the same breath this poor editor spoke about FB Bill of Rights, as if a virtual Ben Franklin / Thomas Jefferson would pop out of the next pop out menu...

I find that if I lie convincingly, FaceBook leaves me alone. Leave off your college, they don't give you IQ tests. Don't use your real last name, they won't try to make you be Irish.

Of course, having a generic name like "bob evans" certainly helps. But Tim can tell you all, that IS my real name. Isn't it, Tim?

Carolinux said...

One more & I'm off to Mumbai...

http://ezinearticles.com/?id=1927248

Tim Connor said...

To Carolinux: Bob Evans is either your real name or somebody has stolen your identity (as in vacuumed yr mind). There can't be 2 Tootin Hills...

Melz: Thank you for Shaq Twitters. The world grew wondrous strange while I was reading. He's literally a giant of course, a jack in beanstalk giant, but with the brain of a 14-yr-old kid!

Carolinux said...

I can't leave on a down note..........

http://www.snorgtees.com/


-be (bob evans)

jec said...

Okay, a couple things:

First, those quizes are ads. Ignore them as you would ads on any other webpage. I know they're tempting (Are you smarter than Michelle Obama?)," but Do. Not. Click.

Second, Facebook takes some getting used to. I was very, very resistant for the last few years, and only finally gave in last summer. I was very active with the Obama campaign and a LOT of organizing was happening there.

There were a couple of interesting diaries on DailyKos the other day about Facebook.. Someone posted "No, actually, I don't need to get on Facebook" http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/2/23/123715/655/923/700817 was followed by "Yes, actually, you probably should be on Facebook" http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/2/23/23830/0112 (I didn't wade through the 1300 + comments in the first diary, but there was a pretty interesting discussion in the follow up diary).

Personally, I'm loving facebook. I love reading updates and seeing people's new photos. I find out about events that I'd like to attend and wouldn't have known about. I am staying in touch with people who I probably wouldn't be otherwise (but want to be).

I'm not sure we know what social networking means yet, but it is changing the way we communicate and who we communicate with. (Is that good or bad?) Sociologists must be having a blast trying to sort it all out.

Clive France said...

I don't get it either. Opened an account to look for something, never found it and never returned. Now I'm starting to get little emails from Facebook noting that "we haven't seen you for a while. Why not drop by and check out what's happening," ad nauseam.

Tim Connor said...

Thanks, Clive. I sense a modest but passionate "Bored by facebook" movement out there. A manifesto, T shirts for sale, a convention, think tank. All online of course.

P.S. I enjoyed your blog. Check it out, people, at http://fotogrotto.wordpress.com/.