Monday, September 26, 2011

Why it's time to unfriend Mark Zuckerberg

It says much about the power of the social networking site Facebook that on one ticker on the TV news this week controversial changes to the site were the second item after the slide in share values. Our regression to a second Stone Age is surely insignificant compared to that freaky new layout on Facebook.

It's certainly confirmation that almost by stealth Facebook has gone from being a novel way of tracking down old friends to becoming an integral way that we spend our time, or waste our time, depending on how you look at it.

But after a number of years the novelty is beginning to wear off and the seemingly inexplicable changes put into place by founder Mark Zuckerberg are getting on our nerves big time.

We woke up one day this week to an inexplicable and messy format in which a strange live update feature was going on in the top right hand corner and lots of anger about the changes was going on in the postings. By the end of the day a full scale Middle East style revolt was underway with punters threatening to jump ship en masse to Google +

In some ways this has an amusing aspect because nobody told us to open a Facebook account. It's not as if we voted Zuckerberg into the White House.

Zuckerberg has no obligation to Facebook users, yet citizens have been yelling about it like they're paying him to take away their trash and he's just announced he's cutting the service to one pickup a month.

But there are some good reasons to defriend Mr. Facebook. For a start his obsession with knowing more and more about us strikes me as a bit 1984, albeit Big Brother by consent. New features apparently will include a live update that will be able to stream all sorts of choices we make onto Facebook. An example given was all of the music we download could be streamed onto Facebook.

My first reaction to this was how dull. People post enough utter drivel consciously onto Facebook without the need for drivel to be updated subconsciously. Let's admit it. Who hasn't spent at least 10 minutes on Facebook looking at wedding photos or baby pictures of a complete stranger. Cue the obtrusive thought that most babies and brides look similar, particularly ones we don't know. Imaginary finger gun to the head for another 10 minutes of our lives wasted.

Do we really want to read that Jim Black from seventh grade, who we never really liked and never had anything in common with the last time we saw him - 27 years and five days ago - has just listened to You Can't Hurry Love by Phil Collins and is about to listen to some Lady Gaga?

Now I'm not really technically minded but I understand another of Mark's big ideas is a timeline log on everything we've done on Facebook in the last 12/24/48 months...whatever. Like we want to be reminded of that time we drank too much Sangria and wrote an status update, that nobody responded to, about our undying love for the cat.

Quite simply Mark has had his day because he seems to see Facebook as more than a social network - as a vehicle to take over the world; because all this increase in personal stuff out there is intended to appeal to advertisers rather than users and just because we have so many pseudo friends on Facebook that it's become boring.

There are plenty of other reasons to defriend Mark. For instance, he's a millionaire but he looks like he's 15-years-old; he's one of those annoying types of people who's brilliant at everything he does - classics, geekdom, fencing etc.

He dates a Chinese girl. That's not a reason to defriend him, of course. But apparently before the couple's first trip to China in 2010, Zuckerberg studied Mandarin Chinese every day before the trip to become fluent. Ironic, really, given that China's firewall bans Facebook.

It may be hard to warm to Zuckerberg but it will also be difficult to withdraw from his creation. Many of us in 2012 casually check out Facebook in the way we visit the water fountain. It's not fun but it's habit. And those other social networks can feel lonely in comparison.

It's probably time for radical change and the era of antisocial networking. On the antisocial network we have a limited number of friends and they are all uber grumpy. There's no "like" button but there's  "dislike" buttons for everything. And defriending is expected; defriending with abuse is better - until it gets to the point where we are just floating around in our own misanthropic network of one, disliking, muttering and grumbling in a cyber universe where nobody is listening. And there's a button for all of them.


  1. Scary how it's all getting integrated with FB profile pics showing up as an icon when you phone someone. Hard to opt out though when it's so much part of life, just have to make sure the profile pic is suitable!

  2. I'm laughing out loud about your China comment. Did you see Social Network, David? Great movie, but it easily gets one's blood boiling against the guy. He crossed his best friend - the one without whose help there would be no facebook - big time. The guy's got too much time and money on his hands than he knows what to do with.

  3. "all this increase in personal stuff out there is intended to appeal to advertisers rather than users" Yes! I think that is it in a nutshell. He isn't doing things to try and please us, he's doing things to make himself more money. We can't do anything but sit idly by and watch because we all have so many ties on Facebook.

  4. I don't have an FB account, but the part of your post I find very interesting is the statement that we are becoming bored with the constant knowing of everything.

    That's going to happen right? Please tell me that's going to happen.

    Meanwhile, I don't think we can villanize MZ as being a crappy guy (he IS a crappy guy) just because he is the big cheese of something that many can't live without. That's the real reason yes?

    We always hate on the guy that owns us.

  5. Wow, David.

    I can't think of anything more to add to that other than -

    I couldn't agree with you more ...


  6. Last paragraph says it all. Well done, wish I'd thought of it first.

  7. If you hover over someone's name on FB you get a little window pop up. Click on the Settings (I think it is - the one on the right) and you can unsubscribe to all their updates so you're not bombarded with all those pointless messages and know absolutely everything about what they do.

    Ask them to do the same. Ask everyone to do the same to thwart the new top right window.

  8. Sarah's idea works as I have done it with a couple of friends....for me Bb is more for checking occasionally on cousins and friends living far away...out of country...friends from other sites and gaming friends....
    I hate his changes but unaffected as I share nothing that those who know me don't already know .
    The prob is info overload by people, things which are not meant for public makes the stalkers and troll's job easier...
    Good post on a topic everyone is talking about.

  9. Loved this, and "yes", all the way around, although I would argue that in some ways FB is already the "antisocial" network, as people I know could not get more than three people to show up at their house at one time proudly proclaim their 900-some "friends" and the passive-aggressive harping of some make for excellent examples of what NOT to write in public.

    Well-written post, as always.


  10. Where's the "Like" button? Oh wait... Seriously - you make some great points!

  11. Even as a regular user of facebook, I couldn't agree more . . . there are better ways to socialize and spend our time.

  12. Well said! I deleted my FB account this past week. It was time to move on.

  13. And again, another post that makes me proud I'm your bloggy bff.

    I'm annoyed by the changes, not because they are merely changes, but because of the direction the website is apparently going. Because you're right, he is taking Facebook from a social networking site to a monster who is trying to eat the Internet. His goal in life is to destroy Google and become bigger than them, than anything in the world. He is going to monopolize the internet and he has plenty of time to do it because he's not even 30 yet.

    I don't want people knowing my every move. My music is my personal choice. When I comment on a friend's photo, I don't think that is Breaking News.


  14. You know what really gets my goat? Ultrasound pictures. I swear to God I may just swallow barbie doll heads solely for the entertainment value of putting a disturbing ultrasound/CT image on the Facebook.

  15. If it wasn't for Cityville I'd be long gone. Kidding! I sense it's only a matter of time before I jump ship too.

  16. Just started following your blog. Recommended by Nubian. Excellent post.

  17. Great post +followed
    very informative :)

  18. I keep thinking about deleting my fb account but I'm way too dependent on it to not have it. At least until everyone moves to another site.

  19. I keep thinking about deleting my fb account but I'm way too dependent on it to not have it. At least until everyone moves to another site.

  20. I agree Sue - but haven't had the strength to quit yet. I know Robyn, must see that - he seems cold, tho. I know, Daisy - I guess that's capitalism etc. I agree Deborah - we hate that person who owns us.

  21. thanx PM - have a good weekend. yay - antisocial networking could catch on, Shopgirl. Thanks Sarah, sounds a bit complicated to me. Bullshit binges - love it, Rek. Lol Pearl - that's so true. Cheers Valley Writer. 4sure - thanks for teh visit Tyrean. I know Lidia - I'm impressed. thanx Jenniger, you are my bloggy bff too, although I have been bad at posting of late. sorry. Too funny, Anna - tried to post on your blog but it wouldn't let me. Thanks so much for the visit Vinny, thx Defiant Marshmallow, will be following shortly - cheers Bones, will be checking yours out. I know Alyson, I'm probably the same.

  22. Heh. I started reading this on Friday and finally finish today! It was a busy weekend! This was a very witty piece! I had to show it to a colleague as I was sniggering in the office. I don't mind Facebook. I don't mind drivel from people I have somehow come to know over time. Somehow I didn't like Twitter or exactly that reason. There is still drivel but without the glimpse into people's lives that Facebook affords, it remains drivel that is meaningless to me. I basically decommissioned my Twitter account over the weekend.


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