We have all seen this a lot lately; friends or cohorts who are disgusted with Facebook, weed out a majority of their FB friends, or even just drop out of Facebook altogether. I have certainly given thought to it myself, and pay less attention to Facebook than I once did.
I was a late adopter to Facebook. I resisted it for a long time. I had some negative feelings about it. The idea of having to collect ‘friends’ which really weren’t friends at all, and at times not even acquaintances, gave me an uneasy feeling. Heck, I admit that I am a little bit anti-social. Friend collecting is a difficult task for me. Why would I want to add a virtual layer?
Then there was the possibility that, once friends were collected, they could so easily at the click of a button UNfriend me. I envisioned myself with 3 friends one day, only to find I had 2 friends the next. What a bitter blow that would be to a person with social anxiety.
However, I eventually jumped on the FB train. It seemed like I had to. Actual, real-world acquaintances and friends were connecting and laying plans through FB’s messaging system. I would get asked, “Are you going?” “To what, where, and when?” I would have to ask back. I was out of the loop. I barked for some time, “I have an email address you know?” This was often met with rebuffs that messaging on FB was easier. Personally, I didn’t see it then and I don’t see it now. You have to type in the person’s name, at least in part, and select them from your list, type the message and click send. Isn’t that exactly what you do in an email? It is, so don’t go and try to make any excuses.
Anyway, I fell in line with millions of others. I still wondered about the difference between FB and my email address and blog. Frankly, there isn’t one, save that a great many blogs are displayed all at once on Facebook. But I will admit, in those earlier days there was a certain synergy in the FB world.
But of late, especially after that social network giant went fiscally public, there has been a steady change. Advertising is all too common, obtrusive, and annoying. I, myself, use FB to advertise my book. I recognize the annoyance, but I also recognize that is what Facebook has become; both an advertising tool, and an annoyance. But like radio and tv ads, you can’t sell if you don’t use it.
With that increased advertising ploy, there has been a sort of whitewashing of the feeds. The most commonly viewed items are sickly sweet, or are bids for likes of things that, if you did not like them you would be judged inhuman, or meaningless fluff about what someone had for lunch. Oh, there are the troll posts too. But meaningful discussion is not the goal. The trolls want rants, because rants get views, and views lead to micro-splintered likes.
On top of all this, the feeds feed so rapidly. The odds that a heartfelt statement is seen by your friends is one in millions. In mere seconds a post is moved from the top of the feed to some deep scroll bottom. I am certain that many of my posts have never been seen at all, either through a rapid, serendipitous influx of other posts at the same time, or through some crafty control by FB’s algorithms, all of which begs the question, “What’s the use?”
The whole goal, or so I was told way back when, was to find ways for people to connect. I do not believe in issue that modern technology drives us apart. It can and often does bring us together. The telegraph made the world smaller. The phone made the world smaller still. The television put the entire world in our living rooms, and computers and the internet have put the world in our pockets.
It isn’t the medium, it is the message. And somehow Facebook’s message has failed.