That’s what they call it.
Remember the days when ‘social networking’ was something you did at company functions, golf days and the like? Events equally as facile as Facebook some would argue. The Social networking website largely popularised by students is currently having it’s fifteen minutes of fame in the online world alongside MySpace and Bebo, arguably upstaging blogging, instant messenger services, web forums and personal sites.
I originally signed up as a Facebook member just over a year ago whilst studying at Nottingham Trent University. My first introductory glimpses of it were by observing fellow students in IT rooms glossing over large pictures of other students apparently having ‘fun’, pouting for cameras on student nights out, pulling ‘oh what a time I’m having’ faces and the rest. At times, there seemed to be hardly a single student that was doing anything legitimate in those classes, but rather browsing this new phenomenon instead. Anyhow, I noted that many fellow students were using Facebook so, being a person who has always been interested in the latest developments on the internet, decided to take the plunge.
In the early days it was novel. The idea of keeping in touch with a natural, living and breathing community that one actually often see in person such as classmates seemed a reasonably attractive one. I went along with it, installed a few applications like telling the world that I’m a Hibernian Football Club and Montreal Canadiens supporter. I began receiving messages from people who were curious and of a like mind. Of course that appeal can be quite seductive, particularly when one has studied with people for instance and they have returned home to their own county, country. Soon came the various ‘walls’. ‘The Fun Wall’ and the ‘Super Wall’. These quickly were populated with videos forwarded to me that I couldn’t be bothered to load up and look at. They also made the page very lengthy to download. Suddenly Facebook was becoming a bit of a chore.
I mused over ‘poking’ someone. Sorry girls but that just appears downright rude and I’m sure in my mind it’s meant to – how risqué, gulp. Then came Superpoking and every other kind of poking. Am I the only one who finds all this stuff just a bit crass? I’ve a notion that voyeurism is alive and well on Facebook too and is one of it’s main points of appeal. Not that this is the worst problem with the site as after all one places on Facebook only what one wants to be seen or read, that goes for the Internet as a whole in fairness.
There are many things about Facebook that I feel uncomfortable with. I don’t enjoy the invasive manner in which it pushes the user into downloading all the silly applications just in order to receive a message that a friend has sent. I now refuse to do this. In fact I’ve stripped nearly all the information out of the account and also deleted the vast majority of the applications. ‘A. N. Other has sent you a message – see what she said here’. Then one has to download yet another hideous application just in order to discover that the friend has sent you a ‘Friendship rose’ or a ‘Guardian Angel’ or some such other insignificant and irritating Internet candyfloss. No matter if you missed out on it though as you can rest assured that six more friends will inadvertently(?) send you the identical thing.
There are many plug-ins on Facebook that are second and third-hand from the rest of the Internet and been around for years. Recently one of them, ‘Scrabulous‘ has attracted the attention of the lawyers due to copyright issues with a request that the application be withdrawn. In my humble opinion, more of these cases will come along. There are also issues with advertising on the site. Some allege that potential unsolicited advertising is a danger. I have no knowledge if this is true or will be in the future but being of a slightly slightly cynical nature where business is concerned, one might observe that the personal profile of Facebook’s members is a veritable playground for people who have a vested interest in finding out one’s tastes and buying habits. On a cheerier note, a good friend managed to find a perfect Christmas present for me by scanning through the same place which is obviously slightly ingenious because it never would have occurred to me.
A story that might fuel suspicion in those of an equally cynical disposition was that of a young female friend of mine who recently found herself newly single. Co-incidentally or not, you decide, as she changed her ‘status’ to ‘single’ she immediately began receiving through Facebook advertisements offering dating services and how to meet other single people.
So that’s it. I’m kind of tired of the whole thing in general. As I mentioned I’ve stripped out the vast majority of my personal information and also binned 95% of the applications that I’d gradually accumulated. I get messages from friends on applications I no longer own and I don’t attend to them. Those friends know exactly how to contact me in other ways if they need/want to without me being blackmailed into downloading a ‘Best Friends’ or ‘Superwall’ application to talk to them. The next step is to email the genuine friends I have on there and make them aware that I’m terminating the account. I fear that is not very far away. Please don’t throw a sheep at me.