Facebook 2011 – State of the Union


Two years ago I wrote a little something about how much I hate Facebook and how it is evil and smells and hurts people and how I’ll keep using it anyways because, duh, it’s Facebook. As we all know, two years is equivalent to about fifty years in Internet time and so that blog entry now looks so embarrassingly outdated it may as well be wearing a smoking jacket and worrying about ‘the Negro problem’.

Nobody becomes fans of anything any more and nobody does those ‘how well do you know X’ quizzes any more. That’s objectively a good thing but their fall from grace as the popular thing to idly do on Facebook only leaves vacuums that equally banal things rush in to fill. There is one major difference after all these years though. Whereas in the good ol’ days of 2009 the idiocy was almost entirely user-generated, now it seems the online stupid infection and looped back on Facebook’s evil overlords themselves. Facebook seems to have taken up the challenge nobody threw down to create the worst and simultaneously most popular website on the Internet.

And you’re helping them. Sure you might complain when a new, intrusive feature appears on the site, you may even fancy yourself the most miserably low form of activist and start a group or petition against whatever change is ruffling your feathers, but eventually you’ll settle back down into a mindless stupor and use it habitually just like everyone else. You’re under zero obligation to use this free site (and yeah it is free no matter how many ‘Facebook will start charging 100% real you guys copy and paste in ur status!!!’ things you see) but of course you will because everybody else is. Where else are you going to go? MySpace? Google+? Those places almost have little animated tumbleweed balls rolling by.

Facebook can keep doing what they like to you forever and you’ll shut up, sit down and take it. They know this. That’s why they can get away with shit like this:

Highlighting everything
I’ll never understand why every website wants to recommend you stuff. They’re not good at it. As far as I’m aware I have never expressed an interest in owning a Frankie Boyle DVD or terrible mid-2000s Blink 182 albums but Amazon seems to think I would enjoy them. And to this day I can’t get my head around why Amazon once presented me with a recommendation for a book called Talking Cock, a book about dicks. It took a passing glance over my purchase history and thought ‘judging by this humanoid’s predilection for Spider-Man comics and Pulp CDs, I’m sure he would like a coffee table bumper book full of glossy, high-res pictures of various cocks and/or balls.’ I can only presume that’s what the book was about, you’ll forgive a lack of research on this one, I’m sure.

So why Facebook thinks it can accomplish the task no other website can manage is beyond me. They fail spectacularly. Ever since its last layout update it’s been highlighting everything in my news feed in a desperate attempt to gather information on me. I unclick every highlight and it promises not to highlight this sort of thing again… before highlighting everything the day after. I don’t even understand what sort of game it’s playing at this point.

Congratulations on reading the Guardian guys!
Everybody I know on Facebook, I feel like we know each other well enough now for me to say this to you without it being a big thing. I don’t give a shit what you’ve read on the Guardian. I have never, and will never, care one iota about what you read on a daily basis at all. What’s more, I think I can make the rather accurate guess that not one person in your friend list cares either. So why use a function that immediately posts to Facebook what ever you read in an online newspaper? Are we supposed to be impressed? Are we supposed to ooh and ahh at how intellectual you are by the selected article titles splashed across our news feed? It’s the equivalent of inviting someone round to your house and ‘accidentally’ leaving all your most impressive and deep looking books casually thrown around the sofa. ‘Oh I’m sorry, let me just move WAR AND PEACE out of the way so you can sit down. Ooh I’m so silly, underneath WAR AND PEACE is JAMES JOYCE’S ULLYSES. My bad, I am sorry. I’m just so engrossed I barely have time to clear away all these scholarly texts.’ Stop it. We all know the most well-thumbed book in your collection is some Jeremy Clarkson trash and more to the point, you know who can read the Guardian? Anyone. You belong to an elite little club called Anyone.

It’s everywhere!
In my original piece I claimed that given enough time Facebook would ‘insert itself into your every venture online’ and just call me Nostradamus because I seem to have predicted the future (and not just because I totally called that Steve Job death thing). There’s barely a website on the internet that doesn’t have Facebook’s blue pixilated hands all over it. Everywhere you look you’re encouraged to ‘like’ something as if you couldn’t possibly be enjoying a site in any real sense unless you register with Facebook that you’re enjoying it.

Where does this stop? You’re listening to a new album you just bought (yeah, sure, you still buy music, whatever man), you think to yourself ‘this is pretty good’. There’s a knock at the door. You open it to reveal a man in a blue and white suit with a briefcase and a Zuckerberg badge on his lapel. He hands you a scary, official looking form and informs you that you must officially register your liking of the music you were listening to. You have to sign on the dotted line or else no one will believe you when you say you’re into that band or that singer. ‘You can’t be, it wasn’t on Facebook’. So you sign the paper, the mysterious man flashes you a mandatory smile and leaves as quickly as he arrives. And suddenly the music doesn’t sound so good any more.

Alright, enough of the dramatics, I’m just saying no one could have predicted the levels of ridiculous bullshit Facebook pumps out in 2011, there’s no way to guess what happens in years to come. This isn’t even touching on the hundreds of decidedly iffy security issues the site is accused of on a regular basis. But of course I’m not going to bomb my profile. I’m going to post a link to this blog on Facebook as soon as it goes live, as I always have, as I always will do. Because no matter how many silly little annoying features they install Facebook has remained the same in one crucial way: it’s still the mafia crime family of the Internet. Well done to the guys who got out but they won’t be out for long. And even while they are, they’re out of the loop now. Isolated and alone. The rest of us are stuck in here with Don Zuckerberg but that’s the way we like it. We’re protected here, we’re sheltered and safe. As long as we pay our respects to the Facebook Family and don’t step out of line we’ll all be okay.

Huh, I guess I wasn’t done with the dramatics.

I’m David Hetherington and I’m fully prepared for this entry to look equally as dated in 2013 as the last one does now. Also I’m the guy who thought ‘likes’ were a dumb fad that wouldn’t stick so what the hell do I know. I also wrote this:

And then this:

And I’m thinking of writing a follow up to that one too.



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