Friday, June 13, 2008

Facebook keeps getting curiouser and curiouser...

I don't quite understand why a person who reads my blog on a fairly regular basis refuses to be friends on Facebook.

Or why we Google old boyfriends and girlfriends and kind of lurk in the shadows of the digital world.

Fear? Unresolved feelings?

Just sort of curious, huh?

There is a reason...and God love him, I think it has to do with Einstein. One of the many things that the digital world does is change time and space. And in the old days, if we broke up with someone, time and space would separate us, and except for people with serious boundary issues, the time and space would allow us to heal. (If you don't understand the meaning of that last sentence, check out the latest edition of the DSM.) Now, the Internet eliminates time and space and lets all those unresolved feelings work their charm/magic/undoing.

The digital world fascinates me. How it works. How it's changing us; not just how we do things, but actually changing who we are as a species. (We're going to have to realign ourselves with time and space, for one thing.) That's one of the reasons I took this job at the agency, to be immersed in what's happening in this new world. Not that any of us know what's going on. Trust me on this one: We're all feeling our way, making things up as we go along.

But Facebook...hmmm...I've already blogged about it once or twice before. I was about to quit a week or so ago just because I think it's pretty much a colossal waste of time, and kind of boring. You click a lot, but not a lot happens. But then Sue joined up. And then this other little issue cropped up (it's none of your business what it was; it's just not as seedy as you think), and suddenly...

For someone like Sue who has friends all over the world, it made for a handy tool to reconnect with people who she hasn't seen in a while. But what's weird is a lot of us tend to run in different circles. I have work friends and theater friends and music friends and crazy friends. And that's where Facebook falls flat. It just lumps all your "friends" into one big pot. Sue reconnected with friends, but plans to move to standard email soon.

Plus, when you're a certain age, the whole high school aspect of Facebook just makes it a bit juvenile. While I know there are lots of people who can't seem to get passed their high school years, some of us do like to live life in a little more adult fashion.

Just a couple of days ago I changed my Facebook picture, and changed my relationship. John is in a relationship with Sue. (The person you're in a relationship has to be on Facebook for you to do this.) Then I looked at it, and it looked so stupid. So I changed it. And suddenly it said I was single. Shit, I'm thinking, all my "friends" are going to think that Sue and I broke up. Suddenly I was in high school mode doing damage control. No, John is in a relationship. He's not a loser. He has a gf.


I joined Facebook for work. It's a fun little fishbowl to watch and not that hard to figure out on a superficial level. Get your friends together. Write a message. Write on your friends' walls. Update your status. John ... is tired ... happy ... stressed because he can't think of something witty to write every morning on Facebook.

Then it takes over. Rack up your number of "friends." Super poke this person. Kill this Vampire. Post pics, vids, links. You end up spending an enormous amount of time clicking around. Why?

Sue, during her teen years, was a champion dog trainer. Shelties. She taught me something with Bob. (Bob is a dog, in case you're new to this blog.) A trainer simply gets the dog to do what it does naturally. And that's what Facebook does. It sets up an environment so we can do what we do naturally. Why? For advertisers. Why else all the numbers? Why else would Facebook encourage developers to code apps like Take this Quiz: What kind of drug/drink/Lord of the Rings Character Are You? To attract all the members like flies to honey.

Co-worker Ryan, who knows infinitely more about this stuff than I do says that Facebook isn't ad-driven, but I think it is. I think it's just a lot less intrusive than most sites, which is the way to be in the digital world. Heavy-handed just doesn't work in the digital world. I mean, what was that little ad in the left-hand column today on my profile page asking the innocuous little question, Are you a songwriter? It took me a minute, until I realized that's in my interest. And then you can expand the page for even more appropriate ads.

And what about:


These ads, and many more like it, are taken clean from my interests. Big deal. It's commercialism. It's just capitalism. Well...excuse me, Dr. Pavlov, I'm hungry.

Facebook and like sites remind me of a gyroscope. You spin it, and a little kid (or even a big kid like me) will just marvel. But then someone puts it in an airplane and suddenly that airplane can fly straight and true. Facebook is the toy. No one has figured out how to make it fly yet. But they're working on it, and in the meantime most of us are too busy poking and wracking our brains to write clever status messages to be paying attention.

Mark my words, the day will come when, instead of throwing a sheep at a friend, you'll be throwing Perdue Chickens at each other.

1 comment:

RyanB said...

Though Facebook certainly does serve ads, I don't think it's an ad-driven model. And in fact, Facebook has gone to great lengths to prove this to its users, who balked at the idea of user-shared ad units.

I agree with you on the lumping friends together stuff. I hate that about Facebook. Like, I really don't want a friend's parent to see pictures of me from a drunken night out that another friend might have tagged me in. It just makes things incredibly awkward.

Just my two cents...

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