For most everybody with a computer and an internet connection, facebook is the first (most times only) stop on the information superhighway. Facebook is now the most visited site on the internet, no matter how sad that is, it is the truth.
Facebook has apparently changed the way we communicate, this is what I am told daily by the media. Without facebook (they don't capitalize it so I won't either) we would all be stuck communicating via outdated technologies like smoke signals and morse code. For that I must thank facebook, however their are a few things about facebook that make me think twice about this technological leap in communication.
Maybe we went to elementry school together, maybe we played hockey on the same team, maybe we got plastered and shared intimate secrets about the time you got tricked into a threesome with your sister, maybe we sat next to each other for an entire semester, but that doesn't make us friends not even in the most lose discription of the word. In fact the mere point that I can narrow down why I know you means we probably aren't anything more then incidentale actors in each others lives, so why are you asking me to be your friend? If we haven't spoke in years what makes you think that this friendly request is going to somehow turn into a meaningful relationship?
Yes I will accept your friend request, because I am vain and get pure joy out of knowing I am cool enough for you to want to get my rantings via your news feed. Nothing more will come of this than we will both gain a +1 in our friend count and thus can spread our message of hatred towards hipsters just that much further than before. For that I thank you, but if you start clogging my feed with "check-ins" and farm-ville updates consider are friendship terminated. And whilest we are on the topic...
So your 25 and finally discovered the internet has more to it then the Kitty Cat Dance and porn. You have discovered online gaming, but not cooperative multiplayer war games or complex RPG's but super simple sim-esque games. Now I am a fan of the SIM games, as a child I knew all the cheats for extra money (because who wants to work to build a city/hotel/farm/zoo/themepark/anthill/copter/EARTH) but I kept those to myself. Spent hours feed my cows and maintaining my skylines, but never once did I send a letter (via the USPS because before facebook our computers were just TV's with a mixed up alphabet board infront of them) to my friends asking if they could donate me three bails of hay in exchange for a new mayor's house.
But now I get multiple offers to join in the frenzy daily. And ignoring the requests you say? Well it doesn't take away the trove of updates about golden eggs and flood waters. But maybe I'm just angry because I am not part of the fun, you know with having a life and all (playing Halo and Gears of War counts as having a life, right?)
Everytime you decide to go check your profile you must consider this. Everyone of your "friends" will know you online and will thus decide that this means you are free to talk. Mind you they don't txt or call or e-mail or just show up on your doorstep. If you have avoided using facebook chat, it is like AIM except that you don't get to use a cool s/n and your conversation will constantly cease because facebook thinks your no longer online. And if you decide to use the internet for something other then facebook your conversation will either end or will go to another tab where your "friend" will send 3million messages all consisting of the same concept as "I know you online because your green dot is lit up stop ignoring me, I hate you."
Of course even if someone's not online their is always the most popular (only?) use of facebook...
If you have had the privilege of waiting for somewhere to vacate a computer so you can finish your biology report (it's due in 53-minutes), then you have had the opportunity to watch facebook serve it's only purpose, letting everyone look at pictures of people they know, kinda know, or flat out don't know at all. So facebook is essentially cyber people watching, except instead of just watching a person walk by you get to follow them for, well, the past three years of their life.
You can see their graduation pictures, mock their wedding and even use Paint to draw a mustache on their child. Of course why you would care to spend half a day staring at pictures of some girl in your econ 220 class is beyond my scope of socoligical training, but I think it has something to do with...
Having a facebook profile is like having your own personal reality show. And Yes, because we can only perceive the world via our own senses, we instinctively think the world revolves around us and that everyone else cares. Of course that fact that everyone uses facebook to look into other peoples lives just confirms this theory and starts a horrible vortex of look at me, ok, look at me, ok, look at me.
In truth your not important and no one really cares about who you are or what you are doing. According to Myma Deup, statistics show that each day the average persons facebook profile is visited by .2 people, or 1.4 people per week. Most of these hits are due to inadvertantly clicking on your name instead of the link you posted to the picture of your dog (and NO noone wanted to see that either).
But lets get down to business...
The economy hit the crapper in 2008, facebook had only just been getting global earlier that year. Just saying I know the difference because corrilation and causality, but this seems to me to be strict evidence of the collapse of the world economy.
Yes their were all those other reasons you heard about from the media, but the real problem is that facebook has started to consume peoples lives, many people spend a portion of their work day on facebook. And the rest are on their phones on facebook. So some sociologist should figure out how much time is spent on facebook that would be otherwise spent consuming and thus supporting the economy. How many hours of television would be watched if facebook wasn't eating up all our free time, how many more movie tickets would be sold if people needed to find something to do rather then watch linked video after video, and scan through thousands of pictures of people that they just don't even care about. But other than destroying the world economy...
As I stated earlier, facebook has apparently changed the way we communicate, but how? Stories of soldiers being able to communcate with their families via facebook are written as if facebook developed some sort of communication platform, say...the internet? Nothing about facebook is new, social networking existed and was popular long before Zuckerburg came up with the "idea" of facebook. We had xanga, freeopendiary, friendster and a little site called MySpace (now My_____) and a bunch of others. Many people moved from one to the next to the next to the next and eventually to facebook. So facebook didn't invent social networking and almost the entire scheme had already been used by a slew of others.
Facebook chat, as we talked about earlier, is just a really crappy version of AIM, so that changed nothing.
Facebook messaging is just a simplified version of an e-mail, and private messaging already existed on other social networks.
Public walls already existed
Posting pictures already existed
Infact facebook is just a simpler form of MySpace, you can't edit the look of your profile and have minimal control over your whole online appearance.
So please someone, anyone inform me of what changed and maybe I will get less angry everytime I see a news article of Zuckerburg being a "proven genius" or Facebook changing the way we communicate.
Saying facebook changed the way we communicate is like saying Spike changed the way we watch TV. It's just another site, it happened to come out at the right time, get popular and make a shit load of money. Facebook will most likely fade as people start to demand more control over their online identities.
Plus with all the mom's and aunts clogging up news feeds and walls the younger generation is bound to move onto something less "outdated" and lame.
You can find more ramblings by Steinmetz at STMTZ.com.
Follow Steinmetz on Twitter STMTZ or e-mail him at email@example.com