Facebook unperson

I recently discovered that a friend (yes, you, David) was having an enormous birthday party to which tout le monde was invited – except for me. The explanation was simple: he sent the invitation only to his friends on Facebook, because only degenerates and hermits are not on Facebook. (I may qualify as both.)

The thought of joining Facebook and re-re-connecting with all my friends fills me with weariness and despair. My first social network was Orkut (remember those days, geeklings?) and I was already exhausted before its initial fast burn through the programmer community concluded. Once I thought that OpenSocial would solve this problem by making it possible to export and import my connection data between social networks. Now I’m not so sure.

First, each social network is specialized; e.g., my only up-to-date network is LinkedIn, intended for professional connections. I’d never import that into Facebook, even if Facebook supported OpenSocial. (I’d complain about having to then connect to all the people I knew from high school, etc., but that’s not a problem since I only went to public high school for one year part-time – and I truly, actually, literally, had zero friends there.) Second, a central appeal of joining a new social network is the ego gratification that comes with each new request for a connection. I posit this as a major cause of the continual rise and fall of new social networks. The challenge for a social network is to keep that ego gratification coming, which requires the ceaseless invention of silly new memes to send to your friends (the true purpose of social network applications).

I always worry that I’m beginning the slow slide into technological senescence – “These damn kids! Web 1.0 was good enough for me, it should be good enough for them!” – but in this case I feel confident that I’m just. Too. Tired. To join Facebook. Besides, apparently I will learn about anything important through the Real Life(tm) social network.

18 thoughts on “Facebook unperson

  1. Val, I’m sorry to hear that. I know how bad it is to be forgotten. I don’t think it’s necessarily about social networking. I remember how bad it was when I was the only on who came to work (in winter, in New Hampshire, 55 miles away from my home) because nobody cared to tell me that the office would be closed for the MLK birthday.

    Geekines is being different, whether it’s being first on a social network or being first to get tired of it. It’s the price we are paying for being who we are. That’s the case where having an “old-fashioned” offline friend helps.

  2. Sorry I wasn’t clear – I’m not hurt by the omission because I’m confident I would have been invited if I were on Facebook – a price I am prepared to pay.

  3. For a long time, I abstained from getting a facebook account, even though everyone wouldn’t shut the hell up about how awesome it was. Eventually I caved, and after about two weeks, left again. The whole thing is just way too high maintenance for me, and filled with junk like “foo added the whizzbang app” that really, I couldn’t care less about. (The whole ‘facebook app’ thing is something else that got under my skin, but that’s a different rant).

    The only thing I miss about it, is since I’ve left it, some of my favorite bands have released mp3s exclusively through ‘apps’. Though they tend to turn up elsewhere on the net within a few days.

  4. It seems to have stopped harassing me about apps and stuff lately. Whether this is because I’ve managed to turn something off or whether it’s because everyone I know has got bored of them, I’m not quite sure. Now I mostly just use it to keep track of when people are out of the country.

    The thing that actually puts me off Facebook the most is the way it’s spent the last couple of months full of adverts that inform me that I can find a new bed-mate in London in seconds, along with a picture of a woman in an almost pornographic bikini. Some kind of trump of targeted marketing. By which I mean “Matthew smash”.

  5. Facebooks privacy and application notification controls have steadily been getting better at reducing un-wanted notifications to it’s users. However the fact remains is that it’s a single contact point and not easily de-centralised. I suspect the problem with not-invited-to-party-ness is the same when lj was on the ascendency and everyone was notified what was going on by blog posts.

    It would be nice to have a notification network that was decentralised but it’s hard get email to compare with Web 2.0 systems with built-in calendars and casual discussion abilities. I keep meaning to look at OpenSocial and MugShot to see if there is a way to make these things easier without becoming part of an ad-channel.

  6. Oh, I still invite people to parties via Livejournal. I just make sure that I’m sufficiently well syndicated that nobody I know is likely to miss the invite :)

  7. Happy to see that there are still people that resists to Facebook. Let’s take bet when facebook will collapse. Some universities have already started blocking it.

    (I have to admit I’m on Facebook for some reason)

  8. Don’t worry, you’re certainly not the only one. I’ve never had too much interest in the networking sites, mainly because they don’t seem to offer me anything that I don’t get from the combination of email, blogs, and forums. The idea of formalised social networks seems a bit distasteful to me…

  9. Oh thank goodness!

    I too think I have enough social networking malarkey with livejournal, linkedin, identi.ca and twitter – even that is too much.

    No facebook for me.

    No thanks.

  10. I found a cure for stupid apps when I located the “block this app” thingy. After an initial campaign, I finally seem to have some peace and quiet on that front. I like the calendar there, it’s well suited to group events (such as pointed out in the post), but that’s pretty much it…

  11. Well

    I Hereby Invite You On LiveJournal, To My Party, Dear Val.

    Mr. Smith’s, SF, 10/25/2008, 10pm-2am.

    David “soon to be 30” Weekly

  12. Getting older….

    Val –

    I am on facebook and enjoy it, but like you I lament all the now wasted time on friendster/myspace/orkut. I do enjoy the reconnection with friends from high school and college, but agree it is a different set of folks I would want to connect with on LinkedIn. It’s also a good way to keep in touch with those pesky kids I call nieces and nephews.

    thanks for teaching me a new word today, you’re better than those stupid “word of the day” things. Senescence. cool.


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