Wolfspeak: My problem with Facebook

by wolf on May 17, 2013

Ugarte: You despise me, don’t you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.
Casablanca

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Lately I’ve been giving some thought to Facebook, about which Humphrey Bogart pretty much sums up my attitude. I have a Facebook account, as I’m told writers should. But right there I’m in trouble because Facebook only wants real people to have an account, which means no pen names.

What’s a pen name to do?

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Then there’s the Facebook updates in my email box. If someone sneezes on Facebook I get an email about it. Supposedly you can change your settings, but the controls keep changing and are so arcane it’s not worth the effort to figure them out. It’s easier just to delete the email, or better yet make a filter to deliver all incoming Facebook emails to my trash barrel, which is what you’d do with a virus.

Facebook is now a virus.

Then there’s the sign-in problem. Go to any website that requires a sign-in and a big box shows up telling you to SIGN IN WITH FACEBOOK. Which means now all your friends can find out you’ve just signed in to whatever, which is about as important as telling them you’ve just sneezed, which means now you too can be a virus.

You can avoid signing in with Facebook but it takes some quick thinking, of which you have only so much left at this point. And all you wanted to do was look at a web page, which should have been easy.

But these are not the essence of why, if I thought about it, I would probably despise Facebook. No.

Do you remember those little xeroxed Christmas updates that people used to send? Dear Friends, This is what the Mitchells did this year. And you learn about the trip to Hawaii, the baby getting a new tooth, and so on. The problem isn’t whether you care or not to learn about those things. The problem is the whole thing is impersonal. It looks personal, but it’s not. Actually, it’s a one way slap in the face. Like advertising.

Facebook is advertising masquerading as connection.

But no! Facebook is two-way! You can join the conversation! You can “like” what someone says! Comment! Pass it on!

Maybe so, but I’d rather floss.

I would never post these thoughts on Facebook. Not because they’d kick me off, which they probably would if they could police a billion people. But because even though this is a rant, it’s too much of a glimpse into my miserable head for Facebook. On Facebook a post like this would come across as somewhere between inappropriate and certifiable.

Which brings up a question. Why is a blog any better? Why is it better to rant about something on a blog and not on Facebook?

Well, I try not to rant. I gave into it this morning because of a conversation I had with an acquaintance I’ll call Miranda who moved away from town and who chided me for not “keeping up” with her. This was the conversation, more or less:

Miranda: You haven’t kept in touch.

Me: I did so. I emailed you and called you. You didn’t answer.

Miranda: Well, I meant to call you but I lost all my phone numbers when I got a new phone.

Me: Well, there you are.

Miranda: But I post on Facebook every day!

Me: I don’t look at Facebook.

Miranda: What’s wrong with you?

Me: Let me get this straight. Did you really think you were communicating with me when you posted on Facebook?

Miranda: Yes!

Me: But you were assuming I was logging in to Facebook. Plus if I log in at the wrong time your post would already have scrolled by. Plus you don’t get to see everything on Facebook anyway because they have all these strange rules about who sees what that nobody can keep up with.

Miranda: I thought you were part of my support system.

As a writer, I’m encouraged to have a “platform,” a word which, if it ever had a meaning, no longer does. It might have an implication, which near as I can figure is to put your name and mug on as many websites as possible. But if I think I’m creating a support system by doing that then I’m probably just as clueless as Miranda.

I like blogging because there’s no assumption or pretense to it. If for whatever reason you’re interested in my thoughts, you’ll find them here.  I answer emails, too.

Like this post? Like it on Facebook. Pass it on.

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara May 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I love my blog, but I also admit I love Facebook. But I’m talking about my personal page. It’s enabled me to connect with people in all sections of my life, past and present, and keep in contact with them even when they move or change phone numbers, jobs, and email accounts. I’ve learned about births and deaths. I’ve asked for, and received, tons of prayers offered on my behalf. As much as it irritates me in so many ways, I’m grateful for it!

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wolf May 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm

What is it they say about spouses?
Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. We’re both right.

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