What Good is a Facebook?

I’m at that point, and maybe everyone reaches it at one point, where I have to wonder why exactly I have a Facebook account.  I don’t want to collect a lot of “friends,” I don’t play any of the games, and I hardly ever post anything there.  Further, the posts of my “friends” have devolved into a stream of political extremism and “do you remember what this is” crap.

I got a Facebook a while ago, when it was the forum for college students to find each other.  It was more fun then, less corporate, less “big brother.”  Over the years, the amount of privacy I feel I’m giving up whenever I do anything on Facebook has really begun to bother me.  Not just because people might read my stuff — I long ago made my peace with the fact that anything on the internet is de facto public domain.  No, it’s not that…it’s more of a feeling that Facebook is doing something shady, something “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”-esque.  First of all, it’s the fact that they make their privacy settings hard to find, and once found, hard to operate.  Second, they’ve revamped those settings so many times, it’s hard to tell but I think they’ve taken away my ability to limit where my information goes a little bit every time they revamp.

And you can see the effect.  Anywhere on that site, you can see the ads tailored to what you do on Facebook.  If you “like” something, the ads flock to that “like.”  To paraphrase what someone once said, “if someone offers you a product and you don’t have to pay for it…you’re not the consumer…YOU’RE the product.”  I have the creepy-crawly feeling whenever I’m on Facebook, that I’m just a cog in their marketing wheel, that they’re a big spider-web, snaring all of my likes, interests and habits, wrapping them up snugly, and selling them to the highest bidder.  I went on a campaign a couple of years ago.  A campaign to delete everything from my Facebook wall.  It took months, but I finally saw the “Nick joined Facebook” post, and I deleted that, too.  Now I don’t let anything sit on my wall for more than a week.

Going back to a point I made earlier, when did Facebook stop being even remotely interesting?  Or maybe a better question is, when did people stop saying anything worth saying?  All I ever see anymore are political rants — “Vote ‘fuck yeah’ if you agree with Chick-Fil-A’s statement against human rights!” or, “Can this goat get more ‘likes’ than Obama?”  Seriously?

If it’s not the political intolerance, it’s this latest craze of “click like if you remember what this mundane object is — I’m trying to prove that I’m not old.”  Honestly, if I remember the Wizard of Oz, or plastic salt shakers, or some tv show, or a shoe, or a cloud…so what?!  Do I have to throw my arms up in victory and chant a throaty “huzzah,” because I recognized a bow saw?  And if it’s not THAT, it’s the dearth of truly original thought.  When did it become bad to actually say something?  Is it really the new standard that a stock phrase, or captioned photo is better than actually saying what you think?

To top it all off, I don’t have many friends.  39 I think is the latest count.  I don’t have many friends in real life.  I don’t have many on Facebook.  I think it’s fake to go find people that I never talk to and try to call them my friends.  Is that my problem?  Is that why I see nothing good?  Because the few people I connect with turned out to be bigots and snobs?  Does that explain why my family members haven’t contacted me on Facebook?  Ever?

I don’t know.  I just know that I’m kind of frustrated with this big internet juggernaut, and I want to get off but don’t want to be crushed under its wheels when I jump.

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3 thoughts on “What Good is a Facebook?

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