Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm Beginning to *Dislike* Social Media

I might Hate Social Media

Facebook used to be like walking into a brewpub and finding a bunch of your friends already there. And not only could you hook up with someone you only saw once or twice a month, but you could catch up with friends and family in other towns, other places and even other decades, all knucking and high-fiving at one counter.

The commercial stuff—Facebook Marketplace, sidebar ads, Sarah Palin spins—were there, but you could take it or leave it, just as you can bypass commercials by fast-forwarding through your recordings of “Glee” or “Game of Thrones.” [Author’s note: Not that I watch either, but if I did, you’d never know.]

But it’s changed. Friends not only hammer you with in-your-face ads, but they also do the passive-aggressive ream and couch a post with something like, “Oh, here’s a cool thing my company is starting to do.” Gee. I needed to know that.

I am bombarded daily with friend-me requests from people whose claim on my affections is that they found me on a database. *Like* my page, they say. Excuse me, but why should I *like* the Heather Banana Real Estate Team at John L. Scott or wherever, when not only have I never met the redoubtable Ms. Heather, but I’d gag over her perfume and high school photo and find her plaintive “I want to be your trusted advisor” copy more threatening than assuring?

My homepage is not everyone's personal Craigslist.

I acknowledge I’m a real estate broker, but I pretty much vomited when three brokers from another company posted the same condo for sale with the same bullshit tag, “This is the kind of thing that’s happening here and I thought you’d be interested.”

Gee, guys, how many times was that discussed at the Tuesday sales meeting? Is this something you’d bring up with me at the counter in the brewpub? Or from across the table at my house if I invited you over for dinner? Why is it everyone’s assumption that all their Facebook friends opted in?

Ironically, it’s the mega-corporations, the Coca-Colas, the Levi Strausses, the Wesson Oils, who show restraint and even a bit of class. If you don’t *like* them on Facebook, they pretty much leave you alone. Unless, of course, you post something about cleaning grease spots off your jeans with cola. But that’s the 21st Century and you need to just get over it.

I have an architect friend who describes a house as a progression of public to private spaces. The kitchen and great room are the most public, for example, while the master bedroom and bathroom are the most private.  Social media, which is social-plus-media, needs to understand this ethic.

LinkedIn is a Rotary Club meeting sans discussions of hemorrhoids and people who died. Twitter is a sports bar during March Madness whose rimshot tweets get lost in the fog of your rimshot tweets, their utility the thing of the future for years to come. Pinterest, my favorite, is a cabin in the woods with your best friends and a fire and red wine.

To get back to the house-as-spaces: LinkedIn is the office party you were glad to get away from. Twitter is the joint you passed by on the way home. Pinterest is where you want to escape to and hide from the world.

Facebook has become the casual party in your kitchen, where gate-crashers are knocking on your door and strangers are drinking your wine because one of your, ahem, *friends* invited them. They’re gaggling at you while dressed in T-shirts with their company logos and slogans in garish bright red and assure you that you can have one for free, along with a free cigar.

In the end, everyone just wants to be loved.  Each of us is alone, so terribly alone, that we crave the love of someone on the outside to prove our right to exist. To that line, paraphrased from Ford’s The Good Soldier, Facebook owes its very existence.

For that reason, truth be told, I stay with it because I really like tall my Facebook friends, some of whom I've never met, some of whose actions annoy me, and therein lie my problem:  The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

But liking one thing doesn’t mean liking everything. So it goes, huh?


  1. Wow, if that were my experience with FB I'd be a curmudgeon too. The only thing close to ads via friend requests I get is the rare English teacher in Turkey who found me somehow and wants to share an upcoming conference.

  2. Now I'm getting bombarded with follow requests from people I've never heard of, some in other states. It's unbelievable.