23 Oct 2012

Facebook is the devil

2 Comments Life, Ramblings, Social Media

When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook he declared “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook, is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently”. Well that all sounds well and good but I think it’s a case of nice concept, no cigar.

Facebook in my opinion has simply become a forum for insecure individuals to exclaim how much they think their lives are better than the next guy, and that’s it really.

Now let me clear my stance a little here. I was an early adopter on Facebook migrating over from MySpace back in the early days. Back then I think they had it pretty good it was a great way to access connections with friends from my past, be it school or work. The major USP for me was the ability to finally share photos in an environment where people were actually interested in your life.

I’ve grown up using Facebook not just for personal use either. In the last 5-6 years i’ve been doing various pieces of development with the core mechanics of Facebook’s API’s and plugins, creating custom Facebook comment feeds, like boxes, apps for people to interact with inline content via Facebook even purchase online products via the Facebook window. What this has given me, bar hours of endless frustration with dodgy javascript code, is a certain respect for the marketing potential of Facebook.

I’m an admin on various public Facebook pages for communities and corporate brands. One page in particular has over 130,000 fans and when you break it down into simple terms that’s a huge amount of potential communication just from a few taps via a small app on my iPhone. Sometimes I feel that behind the face of a brand you can achieve a better engagement than with your own friends.

It’s interesting how the more interesting your life gets, the less interested in it your peers are”.

Apply the same principals to your personal profile and it’s like the people closest to you literally have no interest in anything you say despite how interesting the thing that you had to say is. Or is the very nature of it being interesting merely an intrinsic perception of yourself?

But I think it’s more than that. You see when I meet people in public and they say hey I heard you doing such and such, or working with this client, or did you have a good weekend at that place? a) it makes you feel great and b) it makes me realise that people have become internet trolls simply trawling social sites to see how everyone else is living their lives.

I blame the like button. Since it’s inception people have sought solace in it, resided in it’s power and defaulted to it rather than actually communicating. Oi Zuckerberg, surely that goes completely against the grain of your statement to ‘help people connect and communicate more efficiently’?

By giving people voice in the power of the button Facebook has taken away the very thing that it set out to achieve, more efficient communication.

Lets get back to basics and something I learnt when I studied marketing at university is effective communication is a two way process, you have a sender and receiver and a message is only 100% effective when the recipient actually responds. Now we could debate that a ‘like’ is a response, but is it really? What is the value of a like? It’s merely just a button, an quick and easy fix and in doing so the very nature of the written word is demolished as some sort of meaningless gesture.

We were born with hands and fingers to write, ears, eyes and mouths to hear, see and speak and yet Facebook has deprived us of those very essential assets and conformed us into ‘Like robots’. As a brand that’s not such a bad thing as you’ve essentially gained a subscriber with each like and so every message you send you can almost guarantee will reach those who are viewing and tuned into your channel. But for personal use it just means Facebook users have become trolls, scrolling down their news feeds to see what everyone else is doing and how much better their lives are than your own…how depressing. What’s worse is i’ve noticed over the past 2-3 years a gradual decline in ‘efficient communication’ amongst Facebook users.

How far will this go? Who knows. Here within is the biggest gross misconduct Facebook has done, it has actually transformed the way people physically communicate in the real world and reduced the ability for people to actually talk in engaged conversation rather than just a series of mutterings and gestures. Maybe we should just all walk around with bug like buttons on our heads and see how many people touch it. It would appear the line between sitting at a keyboard trawling through other peoples lives without actually engaging in conversation has become the present norm in real life and within social circles. Could this really be the de-socialisation of communities? Or is this the future emergence of virtual reality?

Either way, that’s why Twitter has so much more potential as it actually enables people to ‘talk’ to each other…it’s just a shame it’s limited to 140 characters. But i’m not going to start talking comparisons with other social networks, my beef is with Facebook right now.

To me there’s something very interesting about the psychology behind Facebook and what users are actually online trying to achieve, is self affirmation really worth the trouble by drawing comparisons with your peers? I mean how do you actually measure success, is it by how much you earn, how big your house is, what car you drive? No, it’s about the friends and family you have around to support you. So why is it that so much of the social community is driven to compete against each other to see who’s best? I think a lot of the lack of the communication actually stems from jealousy within social groups and if I was being silly about it I could say success is measured by the how little your peers comment on your Facebook status because they’re too busy squirming in their own sorrow.

The biggest problem I have with all of this is it seems no matter how important it is to have friends and family around to support you, the development of Facebook has actually taken away that very essence and made people lazy to actually communicate and ask questions, get involved and be a community. Maybe it’s just something that I’ve experienced amongst my own friends, maybe they’re just all idiots or maybe i’m just thinking about it too hard?!

So is Facebook the devil? Well aside from my ramblings I’ve also seen and heard of cases where marriages have split because of the Facebook disease so that’s bad enough. I just had a quick look on Yahoo answers (Yes that staple resource of information and knowledge *laughs*) and one individual actually claims that it’s more than just Facebook but the world wide web and apparently in Hebrew www actually translates to 666 because they use letters instead of numbers…weird! I haven’t got a problem with the web, I love it, it’s my job end of.

In short though I think Facebook has devalued it’s core purpose and effective communication is becoming a lost art form, we communicate more with computers, apps, tablets and devices than we do with actual people nowadays….but that’s a whole other blog post. Thanks for reading and if you feel compelled, don’t like this post, please leave a comment below.

Fancy some further reading? Check this out – Why Facebook is the Devil.

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Hey, i'm Chris Newnham thanks for reading my blog, it's great to meet you at last...your time spent here is valuable to me and i'd really appreciate it if you left a comment or two...P.S. you look fab!