Why do we all still put up with Facebook?

I’m dipping back into one of those cycles where I’m disenfranchised with Facebook again. Why? Because so many people are just that awful.

Facebook is, by and large, an entertainment platform. Instead of watching TV or reading a book, some people cut into that time with Facebook. So much so the phrase “I have to check Facebook” has entered everyone’s vernacular. But why? Why on earth do you need to check Facebook? I also need to check my bank account from time to time, but I don’t do it twenty times a day. “But Justin, your bank account doesn’t change as fast as Facebook!” Maybe, but it sure doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

Facebook brought most of us into the social networking realm. A lot of us had MySpace pages, but I think most of us gawk at Facebook more — and that’s strictly because Facebook brought good design to social networking. Remember when you had to sit through a MySpace page with a green background, yellow text, two videos playing simultaneously and some shitty pop song you never heard of playing in the background? That offended my sensibilities, so I blocked it out.

Now, Facebook’s content is offending my sensibilities. I don’t block hardly anyone, but I unsubscribe or hide a lot of people. Play Facebook games? You’re gone. Post song lyrics all the time? You’re gone. Post sappy poems and bullshit “feelings”? You’re gone. Post vague nonsense like “That was fun!” or “Can’t wait until it happens!”? You’re gone.

You have to agree with one sentiment: none of that crap matters. Why does anyone want to see that? I certainly don’t.

Then there’s the other side of the coin, when people post things of some level of substance, but it’s completely and factually wrong. Particularly when someone posts crap they heard on FOX or MSNBC. This Occupy Wall Street stuff is overrunning my stream. The other day someone posted a photo of a woman complaining the bank is making her pay $300,000+ on a house she bought even though it’s only worth $91,000 now. Really? Maybe it’s because she bought a fucking house for $300,000 and the bank loaned her that money? Signatures and contracts were traded. Deals were made. You were there! But I digress.

But why anyone would want to consume this stuff at all hours of the day is beyond me. It’s all just stuff and people I’d mostly rather forget. I have just under 400 friends on Facebook and now that I’ve hidden so many people, I see, maybe, 70 or 80 of them. And a tier of 20 or 30 generally dominate the whole place.

“But Justin, why don’t you just close your account?” I’d kinda like to, but feel I need to keep it for some reasons. It’s good for keeping my name in front of clients and potential clients, and I get a lot of traffic to sites through Facebook. That pains me to say it, because it suddenly makes me feel like some crummy marketer.

I’ve hooked my Twitter account back into Facebook so I can just tweet and get it cross-posted to Facebook. I did that once before but disabled it because I thought it redundant for people who followed me in both places. But now I’ve reached a tipping point where the duplicate followers are in the minority. I have a highly curated list of about 100 Twitter followers who say things that are actually intelligent. They don’t necessarily follow me back, but Facebook missed the boat on being able to read things from people who haven’t “friended” you. They just now introduced the whole “Subscribe” gamut.

For me, Twitter shows me things that are likely to be true, useful, relatable to me. Not just how many imaginary beans you you pretended to faux-grown in your make believe farm or pictures of your kid. (I *really* hate that  — how would you like it if I posted photos of my cat all the time?)

Plus there’s that whole slew of privacy issues Facebook keeps bumbling over.

Aside from me commenting in responses to my cross-Twitter-posts on Facebook, don’t expect me to hang around here much. Or, just follow me over on Twitter.

Quitting Facebook

Facebook is dead. The spam has won.

I’ve been using Facebook for nearly 7 years now and I cringe to think how much time I’ve wasted on it, but I don’t think it’s been that much compared to a lot of other people. I use Facebook like this:

  1. Login
  2. Look at the recent status updates
  3. Maybe make a few comments
  4. View photos if they look interesting

I’ve enjoyed Facebook for years because it’s seemingly removed the need for a high school reunion. I know what everyone’s up to, who does what and so on. I don’t follow much family on Facebook, but I can see how that’d be nice, too.

Lately, things have started to change. Facebook, like any other company, can’t just say, “Well, that’s perfect. Let’s just maintain this now and not innovate anymore.” Could you imagine if Henry Ford thought the Model T was “just perfect” and left it at that? What if Microsoft stopped at Windows ME? Companies and people can’t just get to a point and stop. That’s how societies stagnate and crumble.

The trick, however, is innovating and growing in a mature, sensible way with purposeful iteration.

Facebook grew out of the .edu-only years and started enabling everyone with anything to say a place to say it. They innovated quickly, pushed changes at people very quickly and without warning. A slew of privacy issues has come of it, too. Under pressure from Twitter, Gowalla, FourSquare and others, they’ve added real-time status updates, check-ins, chat, email, photo sharing and they’ve monetized by putting ads in front of people that are creepily more targeted than Google’s famed AdWords.

Facebook is the new AOL, trying to be everything to everyone and in the process is becoming nothing to no one. Here’s what I see right now as I log into Facebook:

With all due respect to the original authors, the first two posts are effectively ads. The third post is about a music video I don’t care about or like. The rest are seemingly mundane posts that I either don’t understand or have no affinity to. The last post is a check-in from someone I went to high school with. I’m sure they’re having a fine time, but I don’t know where that is or why I should care. It’s one thing to check in from the White House, Grand Canyon, Times Square or the Space Station. It’s another to post that you’re at some random bar. The events are always pointless to me because everyone invites me to everything from a birthday party to a meetup to a political event. Has anyone ever looked at their Facebook wall and thought, “Hey, I want to do that, too!” or “I’m there, too! Let’s meet!”

In my mind, Facebook is the ultra-social site that combines the one-off services from other providers. Check-ins from FourSquare or Gowalla, statuses from Twitter, photos from Flickr, video from YouTube and so on. It’s becoming a bit much.

I’ve taken the time to at least try to curate my friends list. I know many individuals who have blocked me on Facebook, mostly old high school classmates. That’s fine because we didn’t have that much in common anyway. But now I find that Facebook is becoming “User Streamed Spam”. I guess I do it, too, with blog post links and the sort. But I do try to curate my posts as best I can. I respect people’s viewing experience on Facebook. Most people do not and post whatever pops in their mind.

Twitter, for me, is a better experience. I’ve carefully selected who I do and don’t want to follow, which admittedly, doesn’t happen as much on Facebook. On Facebook, I tend to hide a lot of people. Usually people who I met once somewhere and now they know me from some event I hosted. I’ve unlinked my Twitter and Facebook account in an attempt to refocus status updates to both targets differently at times. And, I’ve un-followed people on Twitter because I follow them on Facebook (or vice-versa) and I got tired of seeing the same thing. That became very cumbersome. Now, Facebook has removed the ability to hide apps on your wall, too. It’s almost as if they’re forcing me to see everyone’s horoscope.

Maybe I’m an old fuddy-duddy, but I don’t like Facebook anymore. It isn’t fun, social or unique like it used to be. While I admit to using Facebook to blurt out some things I’m hosting, I try not to do it a lot. And, I actually do take the time to think about clever things to post on Facebook. No one cares about my dinner, I get that, and I don’t post about it. Heck, I don’t even care about  my dinner. I also try not to repost the same old things that have spread around the web time and time again.

The new polling feature is the death nail for me. I answered a question once, out of boredom, and lo, it re-posted to my feed with no way for me to know or delete it. I spammed people with some dumb question and didn’t even know it. I don’t care whether you like Pepsi or Coke enough to want to see it on my wall at 2:30 in the afternoon.

And, as an aside, on two occassions this week I’ve posted comments on two different people’s Facebook statuses. One, for instance, claimed that Obama moved his State of the Union Speech to accomodate Dancing with the Stars. That’s sorta true, if it weren’t for the fact that the State of the Union happens in January. I mentioned a correction that the speech was about Libya. A few minutes later, that post was deleted. How dare facts make it on to the Internet. On another occasion, someone removed a post because, I guess, they don’t like me. That’s fine, but it makes for a bad experience. That’s probably why Facebook doesn’t have a “Dislike” button. Everyone would get mad at everyone and just leave.

I’ll be leaving Facebook alone for a while and spending more time among the people and content I care more about over at Twitter. You can follow me @jlharter (or @justifystudios or @refreshindy or @rebuildconf). But unlike Facebook where it seems rude not to befriend a person when you both know you know each other, Twitter doesn’t have that culture so don’t expect me to automatically follow you back. It reminds me more of the early Facebook. I ‘like’ that.

Red Cross Tweets About Beer

The American Red Cross has their Twitter uh-oh moment:

Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s midas Touch beer…. when we drink we do it right $gettngslizzerd

That rogue tweet, from a staffer who inadvertently used the wrong account in Hootsuite, won’t be fired and they’ve apologized for the mistake by deleting the tweet and stating they’re sober and they’ve confiscated the keys. At least they have a sense of humor about it.

Interestingly, early reports indicate it may have caused a slight surge in the amount of blood and money donated to the Red Cross.