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So long, and thanks for the very real annoyances 09.01.2008

Facebook logo with No entry sign on top It started with a post I still have in draft from October, describing the things I really found annoying about Facebook. Then, in November, I killed all notifications, because I found them plain annoying. And then, just as 2008 started, I deactivated my account. I had amassed 200+ friends from around the world, some people I see everyday, some people I never see, some people who were sucking on a pacifier and wearing a diaper last time I met them, and who can now probably outdrink me faster than you can say "12-step programme". All pretty good, I agree, so why did I deactivate my account? I'll tell you why.

I found it really really annoying, that people started sending me messages on Facebook. No, wait, that didn't annoy me, because the people on Facebook doesn't annoy me. Facebook annoys me. How do I know? A lot of my contacts on Facebook are the same as I have on LinkedIn. On Facebook they annoy me, on LinkedIn they don't. What's changed? The platform. Facebook is an enabler of annoyance.

It annoyed me that Facebook enabled my friends to write me messages on Facebook, and that I couldn't change the behaviour of the platform, to let me have those messages forwarded to my inbox (I know this has changed now, but remember, this is retrospect). If there's one thing I am trying to cut down on these days, it is the amount of logins and inboxes I have to check everyday. Having to wade through virtual margueritas, hobo's, and evil ninja vampires biting my ass, while trying to read a useless message consisting of "Hi, I see you are on Facebook!" (!) from a friend, is pretty much a waste of my time (both the wading and the reading), and anybody who knows me will know, that I am pretty good at wasting time. To me, Facebook seemed like the substitute teacher who can't control the classroom, and where everybody yells across the room to each other.

Another reason was the messages about people posting things to my 'Funwall', even without me having installed the Funwall. Then, you install the Funwall, only to find out, that a person send you a 'Marvin the Travelling Bear' chainmail, and they also send it to their n amount of other firends. Great. Really close and personal. Love it. Facebook enables my friends to pester me with ridiculous and useless chainmail. I have email for that.

Of course, there's a bunch of other reasons, this was just the one that got on my tits the most. Other people have mentioned the inability to take your shit and run, if you don't feel like Facebook is teh hots!1!! for you anymore (eventually, Robert Scobble got kicked out after whining about first, not being able to add more than 5000 friends, and then about him not being able to export his 5000 friends (yes, 5000, who the fuck has that many 'friends'?). All the content you've hung on your profile, will continue to hang there when [next frontline social network name here] launches and becomes teh hot!!1!, and then you are stuck on Facebook, and you can start all over again. Today though, I see that Facebook has joined the Data Portability Group — good for them.

The Scobbleizer is a perfect example of another reason. Nobody has 5000+ people they would define as friends, in the original sense of the word. They might define them as acquaintances, business relations, or loosely connected 'met once at a party'-connections. I might add somebody, but the only filters I have are friend and network. How about defining them as different FOAF-levels, like coworker, acquaintance, etc. The Scobbler had ~5000 friends. I had ~200, and I wouldn't classifiy them all as friends. I quickly reached a dilemma between posting stuff to my profile, and then thinking, 'oh, my manager/coworker/ex-girlfriend/future-girlfriend/sister/brother/cousin now all know this. Was that really clever?'. The lack of granularity in defining your relation with people you add, and setting up filters, was a lack in my book.

In the end, Facebook didn't make me forge any closer ties to anybody I didn't know already, and the ones I already losely knew, remained losely known entities in my social sphere. A friend (yes, real live one, not on Facebook btw) and I was yapping about it, and she said, very cleverly: "We have all these possibilities to see new people, new places, new everything, yet instead we sit at home in front of the computer looking at people we already know, and places we've already seen."

I could continue, ad nauseam, but what are your favourite nags about Facebook? I am eager to hear them.

Comments

dave | web | @ / 16:20 / 9th of january / 2008

The weird thing about Facebook is actual, that nobody knows what it's good for, but everyone uses it. Even me.

I have found one(!) good thing about Facebook, and that is that I got back in touch with people I've met in Hong Kong and lost mail address and stuff on (exhange students / expats seem to change email/phonenumber more often than most people - myself included). Facebook keeps us connected (as most of them are not on LinkedIn, for some reason).

However Facebook does give me way too much information about people I didn't really want information about. But removing them as "friends", once they are on the list... just seems rude. Maybe I shouldn't have agreed on the "friend invitation" in the first place.

But the 'install this app' things are really really annoying!

Jonas | web / 16:32 / 9th of january / 2008

Dave, I definitely see how this is useful, and helpful, and I am imagining this is a very real advantage of Facebook, that everyone seems to gravitate to it, and you eventually find people that you lost contact with.

I did the same, but having connected with them on Facebook didn't mean I communicated with them outside the short burst communication style of Facebook, and it just made me wonder if Facebook hadn't create this need for connection out of the blue? Obviously, I didn't have any meaningful things to communicate with these people when it came down to it. Having nothing more to say to each other than sending a virtual drink, or similar fairly useless stuff doesn't equal meaningful communication to me.

Maybe I'm just virtually anti-social and I should get used it?

Pedro | web | @ / 17:00 / 9th of january / 2008

I opted for a not so drastical measure and decided to create some filters in my gmail account to get rid of the "floating junk" facebook sends all the time.
I'm just there for the exact reason that Dave mentioned, get back in touch with people I lost contact.

You well... I get to see you everyday :)

dave | web | @ / 18:06 / 9th of january / 2008

Well... I'm the kind of person who doesn't need to exchange long emails to keep in touch, which is why I loose contact from time to time I guess.

For me, Facebook does the job. I travel way too much, and it is nice to send a short message to whoever is in the area and ask them out for a beer or two. For example I met a Chinese friend in Hong Kong, when I visited in November, who I wouldn't have met without finding her on Facebook.

I don't do the hug/drink beer/become a pirate/throw a pie/kiss/have cybersex/slice up kind of thing - people, stop it already! But for short messaging like "Hey. How are you doing? What are you doing these days? Btw. I'm dropping by in March, shall we have a beer together?", I find it quite good.

It is defently more casual than LinkedIn (which I solo use for promoting myself so requiters will call me, and I can turn them down and feel better about myself. Ha!), and I like that.

But the "send this application to all your friends" annoyance. Stop it already!

Andreas Haugstrup | web | @ / 21:28 / 9th of january / 2008

I disabled my facebook account back in august. I had tried to use the site, but I just couldn't see the point. Call me, mail me, IM me - I'm here to take your calls (but I'm not a doormat).

b | web | @ / 22:35 / 9th of january / 2008

I never signed up for Facebook because I simply don't understand its purpose. I find it intrusive at best and am also anti-social, I guess. Why would I want people to find me who I've never sought out? I don't need for people to receive bulletins about my relationship status, and I don't need to "reconnect" with dolts from college I didn't like back then. But, I hate compulsory "friending" and think that whole system is massively insulting (Scoble being a great - the best? - example of many insulting aspects of social media). Am I old school for liking email for the purposes of staying in touch? Or getting together in person (gasp)? I suppose I am, but I really like it this way. (and Andreas stole my tagline about not being a doormat, damnit)

Jonas | web / 23:10 / 9th of january / 2008

@Pedro: Yeh, I know, we see each other every day, so facebooking for us is pretty useless. I'm tempted to question the whole 'getting back in touch'-thing. I'm sure there's a reason why you lost touch with these people in the first place, and getting back in touch by dry humping them or on Facebook just seems useless to me. But fair play if it works out for you (:

@Andreas & b: I totally agree, with both of you, and don't get me started on Scoble, sheesh... The 'not a doormat' tagline is very fitting, people wipe off every thinkable thing on you because it doesn't seem to hold any weight anyways. b, your point about hooking up with people you definitely don't want to hook up with is something I forgot to cover, but it's very valid, and is certainly another pain in the rear. I guess we just dig email, and are anti-social, but at least we can be that together (:

Jonas | web / 23:12 / 9th of january / 2008

@dave: Facebook applications is the new spam. Nuff said.

emme | web | @ / 10:17 / 10th of january / 2008

http://www.explosm.net/comics/1137/ :)

Christian bech / 13:21 / 10th of january / 2008

Kicking Scoble out made me love Facebook again. There's actuallay a group dedicated to keep Scoble of FAcebook, Twitter, and well - the internet.

Jonas | web / 13:29 / 10th of january / 2008

@emme: Heh, nice1.

@Christian bech: See, that makes total sense, and actually shows that people are really social about causes that really matters (:

Alfredo | web | @ / 18:38 / 10th of january / 2008

I've never activated an account on Facebook, cause i tought it would have been annoying. I like social networks when they have something new and particular, as it has been with Last.fm, or Linkedin.com.
I remember that a lot of friends back in Italy loved to use Myspace.com, but they used to spent their time only adding friends and receveing semi-spamming (and free) advertisements. I feel Myspace, and somehow Facebook, can be like huge rooms in which you meet lot of different faces, some of them familiar. But the room is empty and there is not so much to say. And i don't like to stay there without having nothing to say.
Maybe the good thing in these networks, as Pedro says, is the possibility to stay in touch with people far from you. But i don't find much more than this.

Bering | web | @ / 20:02 / 10th of january / 2008

Allow me to take the opposite standpoint. Despite some unpleasantness (primarily application spam) I actually think that Facebook is quite useful. Not because it is revolutionary in any way, but because it's the first social network to have broad mass appeal. I've tried a lot of social networks in the last couple of years, but none of them have ever reached critical mass. Now that so many people are on Facebook, it's become socially acceptable to use it as groupware (for exchanging pictures, arranging events, maintaining forums etc.) and it's given me quite a few cool real life experiences already. It's especially good for connecting to friends of friends in an informal way, something that e-mail is not really well suited for.

dave | web | @ / 21:56 / 10th of january / 2008

@Jonas: Question the whole get-back-in-touch thing all you want, but as unorganized as I am (I had a professor in Hong Kong, who called me the most unorganized person he have ever met), I find it really helpfull. Mainly because people are actual using it, and I don't need to worry about updating my address book.

@Bering: Excactly. The good thing about Facebook is that is has reached out and people are actual using it. What good is the best social network ever, if your social network is not using it?

Ha... I never thought the day would come that I would be defending Facebook! Stop those Pirate requests! I'm a Ninja!

Jonas | web / 1:25 / 11th of january / 2008

@Bering: Valid point I have to say, but it differs much from my experience. I guess it depends on your circle of friends and acquaintance as well. Guess they didn't match up in my case. But I definitely get the critical mass point, although it kinds buts head with b's "getting in touch with people you don't wanted to get in touch with in the first place" issue.

@dave: Always thought of you as the master of organization, but since a professor thinks differently I'll have to concur with him (: As with Bering, I agree, that is useful usage, I guess I don't travel enough, or I am just good at staying in touch through other channels.

Bering | web | @ / 17:47 / 11th of january / 2008

@Jon: I think we've reached some sort of conclusion: Facebook is a tool that can be used in many different ways. If it doesn' fit the way you communicate with your friends, it might not be for you. What annoys me is that some people dismiss it without trying it. If you've tried it and found it lacking, then by all means get rid of it :-)

Calvin | web | @ / 1:34 / 12th of january / 2008

Yeah - I share your view of Facebook Mibang. It's pretty intrusive in that sense. Same with Google Reader. Hate the new feature that automatically add contact our shared RSS.

your real live friend not of facebook | web | @ / 14:11 / 12th of january / 2008

not to mention, if you have 5K friends, what the hell are you doing at home?
PS: for the fans of craiglists et similia, go here :)

Jonas | web / 18:03 / 13th of january / 2008

@alfredo: As the other comments have shown, that is very real need for some people, and while that need might not fit us, it certainly is useful for others. Regarding myspace, I remember I wondered why people didn't just start a blog instead, but myspace.com was a low-level entry point into an online life which had previously been very hard to enter for a lot of people. That 'the room' quickly fills up with people you have nothing to say to, in that context at least, just shows that we communicate differently, and have very different needs in that regard.

@Bering: I subscribe to your conclusion. Dismissing it without trying it is pretty useless.

@Calvin: With regards to Google Reader, I have to disagree actually. Like Alfredo mentioned, the more focused networks, like linkedin and last.fm, has something to offer that fits my needs. They do one thing, and they do it really well, without the quasi-forced interactivity that Facebook implements.

Linkedin and last.fm are very useful for what they do, exchanging business information, and music information, and similar, with Google Reader's friends contact sharing, it works like a filter for me, in a very good way. Chances are, that the things my friends find interesting to read in their feed reader, might also be interesting for me. I like it, and at least it doesn't force me to do anything if I want to read them, and I can easily disable it, without loosing the main functionality of the application itself.

@real life friend: 5k friends, that means you should be out there having drinks, going to concerts, sleeping on couches, I am wondering how he has time to even be at home.

Hah, the craigslist stuff cracks me up (:

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