Facebook; once our dearest friend we confided in became the annoying younger brother. Severe privacy issues aside, it is a great way of connecting with people. But we made so many connections that we were over sold, and the signal to noise ratio went off the deep end. This isn’t exclusive to just Facebook mind you, sites like Twitter have also experienced this overload of information, only they aren’t in the spotlit aftermath of a lackluster IPO.
There’s so many of us
Facebook brought us all together. It did this in a way that was unprecedented; all of a sudden we had an immediate venue to share our thoughts, feelings, and photos of our families, pets, and lunches.
All of this sharing, after awhile, collapsed on itself. Soon others thought to capitalize on Facebook’s success, creating sites specializing in specific sharing to compartmentalize your preferences. Which, in a way, was needed. Specific sites for specific things: Twitter for short quips, Pinterest for photos, and Google plus for – well whatever was left… I guess.
But all this sharing had another effect we never saw coming. It reminded us all about what we don’t like about each other. That kid we haven’t spoke to since high school grew up to become the adult you didn’t keep in contact with, and well, it was for a reason. But by then, it was too late, we were too invested in what became a play by play of our lives and we needed it as a reference. So Facebook in turn, helped us segregate. They added lists, and then groups, and then close friends… The proof smacked us in the face like a giant metaphorical bitchslap. We were faced with the fact that we are biased, selfish, and just not as popular as we thought we were when we finally did see Joe at the club and he had no clue about our big move we were planning for the past month, let alone that we were even posting about it. We had thousands of ‘friends‘ that knew what we ate for lunch and that we like horses, but never really SPOKE to. And this all made us feel really lonely and empty. This compounded with the evidence of what shits we really are, scared us. And it scared us a lot.
Do you know the peak hours of Facebook? During the workday hours. you can test this yourself, post at 11am and then again at 4pm. The same post will receive significant different responses later in the day, mainly less. We realized that Facebook is, in addition to the above, just a way of passing time, all the time lying to ourselves what it really meant. The connection we have with ‘friends’ just isn’t there. It’s not that Facebook cut into productivity, it actually maximized it. Only the task was commenting on pictures of cats and dogs rather than doing work.
The idea that surfing the internet is a way to pass time shouldn’t come as an epiphany to you, but again, it’s quite arresting when that proof smacks you in the face. But how long can we go on commenting about people’s life and still be interested? How long can we go on about Obama before it quickly spirals into a debacle with friends of friends you don’t even know?
This, compounded by said privacy issues over the years, has left us with a bad taste in our mouths and generalized non interest. We are only salivating for the next big thing.
Amid rumors it was going to flop, many still kept Facebook’s IPO was going to be the next great investment, and even I thought it stood a chance. Nevermind that the stock was overvalued to begin with, as this is common practice of the underwriters of such a deal, there are three main factors why Facebook didn’t do so well:
- Zynga Facebook’s first cousin, the maker of all those video games we blocked from our feed, went public before Facebook that only foreshadowed big brother’s fate. It turns out that the general public is still ramping up to the idea of investing in video games. When they didn’t rake in the bucks, investor’s took notice.
- The Social Network Whether true to life or not, the movie about Facebook’s fearless leader did anything but paint him in a positive light. And everyone saw it. Though it did educate the public as to Asperger’s.
- General distrust Privacy issues on top of more privacy issues combined with hard to find controls only pushed disenchanted users over the edge. The icing on the cake was when everyone realized Facebook was gathering their data. Users felt duped into a non transparent parent now holding all their information, and using it!
So like a lot of the big web companies, they start gobbling up smaller ventures, all in the goal of amassing their empire. Monster did this, as did Amazon. The future? A very large database. Larger than you can imagine. All those photos of your dinners have tags on them. The tags are stored. It has linked you to how much you like spaghetti, and when you like it. Not only that, but the mere hours you are awake posting about it.
Take a second to think about the marketing potential of this. We now know what we do and when and how. And it doesn’t stop there. Our friends and correspondence represent our own demographic. Furthermore, we willingly gave this information.
This large database about all your habits can provide for a specialized experience on the web. After all, I like a nice deal on a pair of shoes I have been eyeing. But we also cannot stop that nagging feeling akin to a real world 1984. Only in this dystopia, we don’t have to be watched, we will perform for the camera. I’m not dissing Facebook, they are smart in their actions, and I would have done the same in Mr. Zuckerberg’s shoes. It is important to know this all is nothing new, it’s just a faster and easier way of amassing the data. Other companies have been doing this since the earliest days of supply and demand. But some people are downright terrified that this information is being gathered and stored. Others could care less.
What about you?