2010.03.10 Facebook: work of the Devil (or someone even more evil)

Written by David Green.

BY RICH FOLEY

I might be in a minority here, but I’ve grown to hate the internet social networking site Facebook. I’d probably feel the same way about all of them, but except for a brief fling with Twitter, that’s all I’m really familiar with.

I quickly gave up Twitter when I started getting numerous e-mails, all informing me that someone I had never heard of before was now following me. It appeared that most, if not all of them, had some agenda or other they hoped to broadcast to my followers. Citing “unusual activity,” Twitter itself deleted most of these, but I soon decided if I wanted my friends to know something, I could call or e-mail them directly, cutting out the middleman.

Facebook, on the other hand, seemed like a better option. I liked the idea of being able to search for people I’ve lost contact with and connect with them and current friends, all in one spot. It quickly turned out to be too good to be true.

I made the mistake of approving a college acquaintance as a friend and almost immediately grew tired of having to see every bit of boring information she could post. First each day, a report of what she had for breakfast and her ruminations about what to do after that. Mid-morning brought an update on her activities and what she was considering eating for lunch.

About two p.m., she’d report on her lunch and any afternoon plans. Around 4:30, it would be time for her to share her options for an evening meal. At 6:30 or 7:00, the after-dinner report and her thoughts on whether or not to take an evening stroll. If yes, she’d be sure to update afterwards with a tally of how far she walked. Any news from her friends or other family members I’ve never heard of would get their own bulletin.

Since I don’t get on-line every day, sometimes I’d find 20 or 30 messages from her when I signed into Facebook. Someone else that she suggested as a friend bombarded me nearly as much with those cute little cyber “gifts” and flowers and constant requests that I take some quiz or other. Between the two of them, I was reluctant to add anymore “friends.” Luckily, a real friend who knows the ins and outs of Facebook told me how I could de-friend them in return for adding him.

Another thing that bothers me is that Facebook is constantly encouraging you to reconnect with lost friends, but I’m finding out that some are better off lost. I recently made friend requests with two people I knew quite well in the late 1990s, only to have both claim they didn’t remember me. I don’t know about you, but I get uncomfortable trying to explain who I am to people that I remember extremely well. How do you answer that question? I did to the best of my ability, only to have both claim my further clarification didn’t help, either. That’s part of the reason why I only have eight Facebook friends.

At least that way, I’m only receiving a daily horoscope for one person, rather than dozens. Should I care what a friend’s horoscope says when I don’t even read my own? And why would I click to see my horoscope when I know that Facebook would then send it on to all my friends, none of whom could possibly care?

And then what do you do when good friends you’d never dream of dropping from your list get hooked on a ridiculous cyber time-waster that includes you receiving constant updates on their latest pretend exploits. Yes, I’m talking about FarmVille.

You just received a yellow ribbon for being such a good fake farmer? Yawn. And now you’ve received a red one, too? How not exciting that is to me. But wait—now you need help fertilizing your non-existent crops? Shouldn’t a yellow and red ribbon-winning cyber farmer be able to do this himself? I suppose I could forward you some manure in the form of your previous FarmVille updates. Would that help?

All this makes me wonder: Just who is behind Facebook, anyway? It occurs to me that the usual types of folks famous for bothering you at home aren’t as common as they used to be. Do you suppose Facebook is operated by an unholy trinity made up of the the Tupperware Company, Amway salespeople and Schwan’s delivery drivers, now bent on hounding us by computer? Maybe with a few magazine salespeople and cookie-pushing Girl Scouts thrown into the mix? I’m just asking: Who is the real Old McDonald behind FarmVille?

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  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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