Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Struggle with Social Networking

I'm trying to like Facebook. I really am. I've had this Facebook account for a while, and I recently started trying to do something worthwhile with it, since so many of my MySpace friends are abandoning MySpace for the 'book.

For that matter, I've been trying to figure out a reason to like MySpace for a good while, too. At first it was great, I could keep up with all my friends, catch up with old pals from school or former jobs or wherever, and hey, I can write blogs too! Neat! There were all kinds of bands to discover, and I could customize my little "space" to look however I wanted.

However, despite having all the right pieces, MySpace utterly failed to do anything really useful with them (at least in my eyes). They were all there, they just never seemed to click and form anything cohesive. To make it worse, the MySpace community completely trashed the place with millions of tacky glittery-sparkly images and audio and video that plays automatically when you visit a page and countless nonsense survey bulletin spam and phishing attacks and "why am I not in your Top 8/12/20/n" drama... if you've spent any amount of time on MySpace then I don't even need to go on, you got the point before I made it.

And customization loses its luster when your only options are to use a template someone else designed (kind of the antithesis of "customizing"), or to try to wrap your brain around, and work within the confines of, an unbelievably lousy and poorly-thought-out table-based layout that forms the foundation of the site you're trying to make your own. That's not to say it can't be done, because I've seen some very unique and clever layouts. I'm just saying I don't think the amount of effort I'd have to put into it is worth the payout. I guess I'm a lousy web designer. I'd rather build my own structure from the ground up than have to wade through somebody else's terrible code and hammer away at it until it does what I want. Guess that's why I don't have a sweet code-monkey position with some big corporation.

But back to Facepalm... I mean Facebook. I can understand why everybody's ditching the 'space... but is Facebook actually a more attractive option? I don't see it. As I told one of my fellow new 'bookers (yeah I'm going wild with the apostrophes, shut up), it's just a glorified Rolodex. None of MySpace's customization options (not that I used them), no blogging capability, and even with nearly all of my e-mail notifications turned off, every week my inbox is still littered with all-important alerts that somebody I know has indeed passed gas or stepped on a kitten or inserted something into something else. Stop it. Hey, someone "wrote" on my "wall." You know what that's called? Graffiti. Except graffiti is art and this is not. And in some cases, this should be illegal, which graffiti is, but should not be.

What does Facebook have? Poking. Wow, somebody can poke me. I assume they mean this in the non-sexual sense, where somebody walks up and jabs you in the arm with their finger. When that happens in real life, I get annoyed. Was that not supposed to happen here? If so, something has gone awry. What else you got? Apps. Which serve no purpose other than to spur MySpace, who finds itself on the less-desirable side of the "cool" fence, into vainly shouting "hey, hey, we got Apps now too! See? Check out all these bitchin' Apps! Where are you going? Come back here!"

Admittedly, when I first read that Facebook was opening up its API to third-party developers, I thought it was a cool idea with a lot of potential. Then I read about the privacy and security concerns related to the way in which Apps work and how much data is made accessible to the App developers regarding their users (Yes, privacy and security concerns exist everywhere on the interwebs, but why voluntarily submit myself to them?). At that point my opinion turned from "Oh, that's kinda cool" to "Screw that." Apps have quickly devolved into the logical extension of chain mail and a very handy tool for spammers. I'm supposed to give some random coder access to my personal information, in exchange for the ability to grow virtual pot under my friends' virtual grow lamps? No thank you.

I'm just not a very social person, so I'm sure that explains my nigh-disdainful apathy towards "social networking." I'll keep trying to find something to validate my Facebook presence, though. If I'm missing something, please let me know. In the meanwhile, I will continue to simultaneously exist on the 'space and on the 'book, because I can't completely abandon either of them, since I have friends and acquaintances on each of them that only exist on that one and not the other. And you know, I might want to contact them now and then. Because I lost their phone number. Or never had it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with lots of this, people are canceling their myspace for Facebook, I am not going that route because I have so many friends and family on my Myspace and that would not be fair to just delete them cuz they are not on the book.
    I am pretty sure in a year or two something better than Facebook will come along and we will all jump on that bandwagon.
    As for the alerts, they bugged me too but now I get zero e mails I just had to fix my settings to send me no e mail alerts, the first time I thought I did it right but there was a 2nd page I had not seen to turn off too. I hate that junk mail clogging my inbox.