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July 18, 2010 4:43 AM   Subscribe

"Facebook's popularity is based on the reality that human beings are social creatures. Staying connected with people we know is innate to us. But maintaining separate social groups that we don't want to clash is also innate." The Five Stages of Facebook Grief.
posted by flapjax at midnite (87 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm still in stage one, confusion. I reckon if I stay in this stage then I can't be disappointed in it, because I'm still not sure wtf it is.
posted by shinybaum at 4:49 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


One simple approach would be for a social networking site to force you to place each new friend into one or more social groups. Default labels could be "immediate family," "extended family," "former co-workers," "classmates," "best friends," etc. To successfully post a picture or status update, you would have to click on checkboxes that determined who got it. You should be able to choose any or all groups.

Um, Facebook already has these kinds of controls in place. I use it all the time to screen the "family" list from my left-wing Obama-hugger posts, and to screen "church people" from anything I don't want to be asked about by 60-year-olds on Sunday.
posted by availablelight at 4:50 AM on July 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


One simple approach would be for everybody to learn to use email address lists properly. Job done.
posted by flabdablet at 5:09 AM on July 18, 2010


One simple approach would be for everybody to learn to use email address lists properly.Job done.

Sending out emails to people is a very different thing than using FB, though. Email is about one-on-one private conversations, which is fine if that's what you want. Like sending someone a letter: for your eyes only. FB posts are more like saying something at a party, and seeing where it goes. It's about a group of people discussing something, in (almost) real time. The point of this article is that not every party you attend will have the same group of people: you won't want everyone that you know overhearing what you say.

And sure, you can do CC emails, to, as you say, whoever you've got on that email list, but still, it7s not quite the same thing, is it?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:23 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flabdablet: That's the kind of mindset that's been obsolete for five years. If you honestly think you just said something smart you've never used Facebook.

The big draw of Facebook is that it lets you use it passively, for a certain distorted meaning of the word passive. By that I mean you never have to decide who you're using it for. The feed gently pushes your information out to everybody, without your thinking about who specifically is seeing it.

That was what made people leave MySpace for Facebook. It wasn't just the cleaner design, it was the fact that when you logged into MySpace, sure, you had a personal page, but you still had to make an effort to look at other people's pages. There was no clean-cut way to see everything going on in somebody's life. So if you wanted to talk to them, you had to make an active push for their attention. If you wanted to express something, you had to pick who to express it to.

Not all of my relationships are so proactive. Lots of them are people who I'm not good friends with but still enjoy the distant company of. I would never write them. I don't care to ask them how they're doing. But if they're saying how they're doing already, and what they're doing is something that interests me, then I'd love to be able to talk to them about it. I've heard that criticized as being "not really a friendship" by people who ought to fuck right off. A lot of my best friendships today started over Facebook, when somebody I didn't really know well started saying interesting things on my sundry status updates. That led to us talking more actively and becoming close. Were it not for Facebook I'd never have had those conversations provoked. And these are people I'd never put on my mailing lists.

My friend started dating a girl recently who he met when the two of them commented on a mutual friend's status. I flirted with a girl who poked me on Facebook, and we went out for a little while. There's no equivalent to "poking" in real life or in email. You can poke a person without anybody seeing it, it's too small to have any crushing personal impact if it's ignored, and continued poking can lead to a conversation's being initiated. Now I'm good at starting conversations with people I don't know; back then, it was a nice conversation starter with people that did a great job of figuring out for me who was interested in me and who couldn't be bothered.

There's certainly a problem now with conflicts of interest between parties. I solved it by deciding Facebook was for friends and only friends. My parents aren't on it, my employers aren't on it. I've got no qualms with blocking people entirely if I don't even want them seeing when I post on other people's walls.

It's easy to do that. A few minutes here and there and you're set. What Facebook has to do now is figure out a way to make such blockings socially acceptable. Right now blocking somebody on Facebook usually indicates a certain hostility. If they can stop it from feeling that way, they'll be set. If they can't, they might lose a lot of their under-18s. I've seen a lot of high schoolers starting to use Twitter. But Twitter has its own set of problems if you're a youthful narcissist, and it's not even trying to be a decent alternative for Facebook. Something else will be necessary.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:30 AM on July 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

-Yogi Berra
posted by mhoye at 5:31 AM on July 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


A George divided against itself cannot stand.
posted by snwod at 5:32 AM on July 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Facebook has always creeped me out, for this very reason. I have an account so I can get in touch with people that way, but I keep the controls locked down and hardly ever post or comment.

Even so, I've had some amusing incidents--like being showered with obscenities and threatened with real violence by a former elementary school classmate whose friend request I'd accepted out of a sense of obligation despite only dimly remembering him, after his neverending scroll of 9-11 Truther crap on my newsfeed drove me to make a snarky comment about tinfoil headwear.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:37 AM on July 18, 2010


I visited Facebook right before Metafilter today. A friend posted a status update and I was about to respond to it when I realized who all would read my reply.

Worlds collide!

In some ways, it's a good thing. Maybe we'd all be a little better off if we could provide a more unified persona to the world. It would be bad if we simply became more private and less authentic, but what if we all just relaxed a little bit about the social norms that cause us to shield big and real parts of ourselves.

It's interesting to note which groups we want to self-censor for. Our parents' generation, our workplaces, religious groups. Maybe it's good for everybody if those groups are forced to confront a more accurate picture of our lives.
posted by callmejay at 5:46 AM on July 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


The social network of the future will pattern itself after real-world social groupings. It will enable people to have private, closed, secure conversations within groups, without fear that one social group will gain access to the conversations of another.

Livejournal has had this for years. Social network of the "future" indeed. Filters are a little hinky, but they keep me from having to scroll past crap about ball-jointed dolls and the intimate real life whining of my teenaged fandom friends, so I'm a supporter. Oh, and bonus, if I wanted to delete my LJ account, it wouldn't take me two weeks. Livejournal is a clunky old behemoth with baggage and crazies up the whazoo, but at least I can make a filter to keep my mother from reading my rants about her.
posted by Mizu at 5:47 AM on July 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


but what if we all just relaxed a little bit about the social norms that cause us to shield big and real parts of ourselves.

Many of us would lose our jobs?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 AM on July 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's interesting to note which groups we want to self-censor for. Our parents' generation, our workplaces, religious groups. Maybe it's good for everybody if those groups are forced to confront a more accurate picture of our lives.

I feel this way exactly. Sometimes. I've got friends on there that seem to be testing the theory. But so much of what goes by in my newsfeed is "Ugh, Monday" and "Made a delicious lasagna!" I can't tell who is self-censoring already and who is just as dull as Garfield comic.
posted by bendybendy at 5:58 AM on July 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


I've lost a lot of friends on Facebook to political arguments. Not to disagreements, but to conversations that degenerated into blatant hatespews.

First I really hated those arguments and felt foul about them. Then I started to enjoy not being associated with people who would say things like those in the first place. Now that's one of the things I'm most grateful to Facebook for. It taught me how different people are when you dissociate their words from the way they say those words. Goodbye many many cute-but-crazy former friends!
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:16 AM on July 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's interesting to note which groups we want to self-censor for. Our parents' generation, our workplaces, religious groups. Maybe it's good for everybody if those groups are forced to confront a more accurate picture of our lives.

There's no way in Hell I'm doing that in a fire-at-will state, where my co-workers think I'm a freak enough that I don't celebrate Xmas because I'm an 'atheist'. There is a reason we develop different social groups, with different facets of our personality. It makes the world work a little smoother. Frankly, the less I know about someone's political or religious or social beliefs, the happier I am, since I can then think of them less because of held beliefs and more on the actions they actually take.

My facebook is so pared down I probably could be substituted for anyone else who lives in the same climate, goes to a laundromat and takes public transit to work.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 6:20 AM on July 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


I did not want nor need to know that my cousin's wife bought a sex toy for him. I don't know who in their lives WOULD want to know, but I wish they'd filtered their message to go only to those people.
posted by desjardins at 6:24 AM on July 18, 2010


This guy lost me when he attempted to create "five stages of grief" that included stages that aren't "grief" related... he's very confused about that phrase...

And, his statement "what we do know is that Facebook's current structure is unsustainable.", how do we "know" that? Other than a poll of 600 teenage gamers (not a real diverse group of subjects), he's pretty much blowing smoke out his butt here supported by cute little fabricated stories...
posted by HuronBob at 6:25 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


i've got a real simple solution for this problem...
posted by nathancaswell at 6:31 AM on July 18, 2010


Separate lists and groupings do not solve the problem that for me Facebook was most fun at stage 2 when the network is growing and it was all like a big class reunion with everyone you've ever known in your life. Every time I logged on, someone had found me and we could catch up, in a superficial way I guess, but it was a lot of fun anyway.

But no-one wants to attend a class reunion forever. We have our separate lives now, and meeting every five or ten years is often enough, in person or otherwise. The growth of my network has leveled, and I have moved directly from stage 2 to stage 5, although not because of avoiding problems but rather because of not finding that much actual utility. Finding people and getting found was the fun part, and now it is permanently over.

I could quit, stay out for a while and then try to find people again, but there's no point in doing that on purpose.
posted by ikalliom at 6:48 AM on July 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I used facebook for about a year, and then "erased" my account a couple weeks back. To pretend you could replace the service with email lists is silly. My mom does all sorts of things using her Facebook account without any help from me. It's impressive from that stand point.

Still, the sight is creepy as fuck, and I talk to people I want to keep in touch with the old fashioned way.
posted by chunking express at 6:49 AM on July 18, 2010


Site. God damn it.
posted by chunking express at 6:50 AM on July 18, 2010


Can you explain more about what you mean by "creepy"?
posted by josher71 at 6:57 AM on July 18, 2010


Many of us would lose our jobs?

Oh, I get it, really I do. I'm pretty discreet about my personal life at work myself, and generally avoid talking about the fact that I'm a liberal atheist.

What I was getting at is the idea that maybe things could be better in the future. 50 years ago tattoos would have been a total dealbreaker, let alone (open!) homosexuality or, you know, being a woman.

Maybe if we all have less privacy, the illusion of "normal" disappears and everybody expects people to be complicated.

We've now had three successive presidents who admitted (or at least non-denied) using illegal drugs in their past. Is it even going to matter for the next three?

Who are the people we've been hiding our true selves from? Mostly they're (temperamentally) conservative people who have been so sheltered that they honestly think that everybody who uses marijuana is some kind of monster, some kind of other. What happens when those people grow up instead knowing that half their friends, half the people they look up to even, smoke? What happens when everybody around them stops biting their tongue instead of talking about sex or religion or politics?

I think a lot of us have been complicit in maintaining the bubbles that social conservatives chose to live in. I'm just saying maybe it's a good thing if those bubbles can't stand any longer.

Maybe when everybody stops pretending to be boring sexless Christians, the few people who really want to only associate with those people will be forced to create their own little societies rather than pressuring the rest of us to pretend.
posted by callmejay at 6:58 AM on July 18, 2010 [26 favorites]


Well I went ahead and committed suicide on FB after the last thread we had discussing it a while back. I only really felt the pang yesterday when my friend in the UK said, OH the new baby? didn't you see the pictures I put up on Facebook already?

er... sigh... no, please email them to your slightly paranoid internet axe murderer friend, dear...

:)
posted by infini at 6:58 AM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Um, Facebook already has these kinds of controls in place...
posted by availablelight
The point from TFA is that actually, it doesn't. There are several types of post on the news feed which are 'global' to all your friend groups: ie everyone can see them. Eg: tagging (links/notes/photos), and posts other people make to your wall. (*). Also if you make a comment on another persons post, then you cannot limit the comment visibility to only that friend group...

There is no way of maintaining completely separate groups, where each group cannot see anything the other group does relative to you. You cannot even stop your friends seeing who your other friends are! (perhaps you don't want a close friend to know that you are still in contact with their ex-)

Separate FB accounts is the only solution, but a difficult to manage one (separate logins etc) and frankly not worth the effort.

(*) yes I know you can turn these off globally, but that is not the point.
posted by nielm at 7:12 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


i've long thought that facebook is nothing less than us building our own big brother. willing participants in something that will turn around and bite us in the ass. and then we'll all shake our fists & post about how evil the entire plot is without ever really acknowledging that we did it to ourselves.
posted by msconduct at 7:23 AM on July 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


I got in touch with a lot of people I knew years ago and then discovered I had nothing to say to them. They outgrew me and I outgrew them. How many real friends do you have at 20? 30? 40? 50? acquaintances, of course, but friends? Read the other day that a large percentage of women begin their day by going to FB--addicted...but then women tend to be more social talk-talk people.
How many men regularly take part in book clubs?a
posted by Postroad at 7:24 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I must be very lucky, because all this "fear of being fired because of what I said on Facebook" has never been a thing for me. On the other hand, I'm reasonably selective about who I friend on FB (the work-related folks are actual friends) so my "friends list" is about half the size of the lists of younger people I know, and I don't hesitate to drop people that are e-quaintances or closer to my husband or whatever that cause lots of "drama" by picking fights. Also, I vent when needed in Livejournal under lock and key rather than on FB, or just don't talk about my secrets on the internet, and I have no shame in terms of pictures, since none of them are naked. I'm sure if I had a dedicated stalker trying to humiliate me, he or she could do it, but short of that, I'm just not afraid of saying most of what I think, or linking articles that show I'm liberal and atheistic or whatever.

(And I grew up in Houston and still live in Texas, even if it's Austin, so please don't assume I've never worked with jewel-in-the-buckle-of-the-Bible-belt folks. One of my previous jobs was in a startup founded by a group that met at a Baptist church.)
posted by immlass at 7:31 AM on July 18, 2010


This clashing of different spheres is one of the reasons that I have started decreasing my fb participation and increasing my LinkedIn participation. With friends and family, I'm a bawdy, foulmouthed, geeky liberal. At work, I reign all that in and just seem nice and maybe a little geeky.

I'm fb friends with several people from work, and I have grown really tired of that. At first it was fun when people would ask about my updates, but now I just wish they would google it if they don't understand it.

At least on LinkedIn, I know what the point it is, I know who the audience is and it feels easier to present myself effectively. For me it is a lot easier to be all business than to try to mix "business jeoc" with "home jeoc".
posted by jeoc at 7:40 AM on July 18, 2010


I don't think the tendency to dissociate from people who aren't like you is an exclusively "temperamentally conservative" trait. To some degree it's perfectly reasonable: if you don't have much in common with a person, you won't have much to talk about with them, so it's hard to maintain a good social relationship. A lot of employers consider the employment relationship to be another kind of social relationship, which is terrible, but I can easily understand why they make that mistake. They just never learned to distinguish between a social relationship and a professional one.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:40 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just an aside... almost anything I ever see linked to on FB, if it's anything much of an interesting link, I've almost always seen it here at MeFi first.

Except this article I've linked to here, in this FPP. Saw this on FB!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:44 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The separation of social groups that they talk about in this article seems to be mostly a problem for teenagers and college students. I mean, as an adult, I don't feel I have that much to hide from my family anymore. They know by now all my weird interests and friends and that I drink sometimes. I doubt anything I say or do would shock them at this point (I even put Socialist as my political affiliation and my family are all Republicans). My policy is only to "friend" people I genuinely like and for that reason I'm not even going to consider friending my boss or other people who would judge me to my detriment. Screw them.

Do other people's bosses and coworkers make friending them on Facebook a requirement of the job or something?
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:48 AM on July 18, 2010


...
posted by jonmc at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2010


"Get a life," Jon chortled gleefully to himself and his imaginary friends on MetaFilter.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:59 AM on July 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I avoid this issue by not adding anyone as a facebook friend if I don't want them to be able to see what I post on facebook.
posted by lullaby at 8:00 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Recently former high school classmates began discovering Facebook. Because I have been told that it's rude to refuse to accept a Facebook friend, I now have a whole bunch of these people as Facebook friends, and they are to a large degree fundamentalist Christians and teabaggers.

Unfriend them? It made me realize that the last time I knew a genuine cross-section of American people was in high school. In my current life, I never hear crazy rants about Obama being a socialist racist, or if I do, it's on a blog that is ridiculing such people. Now I know that the sweet secretary where I used to work is a racist, and the girls I went to slumber parties with would consign me to Hell. So on one hand, I'd like my social network to consist of people I like; on the other hand, having a bunch of random acquaintances makes me aware of how the internet encourages us to only seek like-minded opinion.

But then there's Farmville. That will get you blocked.
posted by acrasis at 8:02 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't even know what Farmville is beyond that it's an internet thing, but I was at 7-11 the other night and there was Farmville Ice cream in the freezer. Perhaps that makes sense, I don't know.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I have, and at this point it's a point of honor, avoiding using Facebook at all cause I remember the Friendster My Space Livejournal rigamarole and just decided not to.

Haivng said that, the "Facebook movie"? About the founding? By David Fincher?

It kinda looks really good.

Check out that spooky choir of Creep!
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 AM on July 18, 2010


I don't see this as a deal killer. I just think it's a new social construct people will have to learn how to use. Or not use.

We already went through this sort of "grief" with blogs and other online mediums. The big deal with Facebook isn't that worlds collide, it's that (for whatever reason) a wider net is cast when it comes to who actually reads your stuff. But I think the potential danger from blogs causing such collisions is much greater, and people learned how to deal with that.

The thing I like most about the internet is all of the new social constructs that evolve. Facebook and it's full-on worlds collide features are just a new social construct that we have access to.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:13 AM on July 18, 2010


My point is that Facebook is really good at what it's really good at. Which is - Bringing together many separate social networks. But the article seems to be implying people don't know that, which I find odd.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2010


This is why I have two privacy groups on facebook: people who can see everything I do (my actual friends), and people who can see nothing, not even my wall (teachers, random old acquaintances, coworkers, parents, creepers.)

It seems to work. People just want to friend one another, they don't care if there isn't anything to actually see on your page.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do other people's bosses and coworkers make friending them on Facebook a requirement of the job or something?

Not a requirement of the job, per se. But in my very touchy-feely, relationship-focused department, it is considered unfriendly to be on facebook and not friend each other. It would be like not saying, "hi" when you see someone in the hall.

I also get the sense that most of the people are work with are pretty WYSIWYG. I often feel like I'm the only one that holds back information or personality traits to fit in, which makes using facebook feel more like that kind of weird balancing act.
posted by jeoc at 8:34 AM on July 18, 2010


I don't use facebook anymore and I don't miss it.

I started using it in my second year of college, when it was a closed network. It was cool and fun back then, ya know? I don't know how else to put it. There were only people from your school, and you could browse them randomly and message cute girls from your classes and nobody took any of it at all seriously.

Then it expanded and opened up, and long story short, it sucks now. People take it seriously, and I simply can't. I am not a profile. The front page says "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life" but I never actually needed any help with that.
posted by Theloupgarou at 8:34 AM on July 18, 2010


FB posts are more like saying YELLING something at a party, FTFY...

...AND YOUR TITS WERE HANGING OUT? OMG1!
posted by sexyrobot at 8:40 AM on July 18, 2010


When discussions about defaults come up, more technically-minded people always say "Just don't use it", or "You can configure that away", or "Is it really that bad?" or "How dumb do you have to be to not just IRC instead?"

I am interested in defaults, because that's what almost everyone sticks with. Facebook defaults don't take social circles into consideration. It's an interesting mismatch with how people tend to think about and use their social "graph" in real life.
posted by jragon at 8:40 AM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


FTFY...

Many thanks and all that, but, it didn't need fixing. The posts that I make to FB, and the posts that virtually all my FB friends make to FB are saying things, not yelling them. If your experience is different, and you get lots of "...AND YOUR TITS WERE HANGING OUT? OMG1!", I can only imagine that you have, well, obnoxious and stupid FB friends.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:49 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


...or carelessly fastened tops.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on July 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am interested in defaults, because that's what almost everyone sticks with. Facebook defaults don't take social circles into consideration. It's an interesting mismatch with how people tend to think about and use their social "graph" in real life.

That strikes me as an effort to maximize chatter and grow the network. If everyone's friends are easy to spot and they'd have to re-rig everything to cordon off some of their posts, then you'll get more traffic, more people noticing traffic on other people's sites, more friend connections, and over time, a greater sense among those outside the network that everyone is on it. It seems just preposterous to think that the defaults on there are set for maximum exposure in virtue of lazy programming or a design flaw. People (like, say, me) who get on there, post irregularly, 'like' nothing, and rig lists among their friends to separate work/friends/friends who laugh at "Jesus always loses at handball" jokes are not of great value to advertisers and not favorites of Facebook. I suspect in a year or two, they will make what I do impossible somehow.
posted by el_lupino at 9:06 AM on July 18, 2010


Next can we all talk about how we don't have TV sets anymore?
posted by HuronBob at 9:06 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also (perhaps) worth noting: with more and more people connecting to old girlfriends and boyfriends from the past, there has been a surge in re-initiating love affairs--I don't have the stats on hand but recently read that a number of lawers said a fairly substantial divorces cases cited these FB relationships as the cause of a marital breakup.
posted by Postroad at 9:07 AM on July 18, 2010


Because of that, users are beginning to notice a curious effect: The more you use Facebook, the less usable it becomes.

I noticed that some time ago and went through the laborious process of deleting my account earlier this year. I do miss some aspects of FB occasionally, and I have a friend who has hounded me about signing back on (he discovered FB after I'd already deleted my account), but I don't miss it enough to renew my account.
posted by blucevalo at 9:15 AM on July 18, 2010


Who are the people we've been hiding our true selves from?

Well, in Virginia, almost anyone and everyone outside of Alexandria and Arlington/Fairfax Counties.
posted by blucevalo at 9:26 AM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yup, I've seen this phenomena. Between sending polite private messages to my brother's friends that maybe a picture tagged with their name of a naked teenager with "Fuck me" written on their chest was not the face they wanted to show the world, to having to explain in group jokes to my decidedly staid grandfather (What's an emu? Oh, well see this woman I'm friends with said that she found me so witty she'd join a poly triad, even if the third party was an emu, and then my boyfriend said he'd dress up like an emu in a really cute voice...), and the political screeds and rants of my peers, network overlap is a giant nuisance.

The worst one is the friend who constantly posts about how he hates his coworkers, they're all morons and he's so cursed to actually have to take a non-academia job. I'd already habitually avoided commenting on his pro-atheism (which I support, but I don't publicly trumpet in a forum I share with religious people I respect), but I have to wonder if he's realized that that sort of talk is better saved for good friends in a private setting. Joking about how much fun it is to make your co-workers (uneducated sheep that they are!) uncomfortable by pretending to be a psycho is not the sort of conversation I'd want attached to my name in a cache somewhere.

Of course I have the same problem with user name identity. "Phalene" was adopted in part because my first user name had internet baggage dating back from when I was a young teen and sharing my email with all and sundry because getting a message from my great aunt was awesome. These days, while a good internet sleuth could match up Phalene with me, I'm not sure I want to make it easy for people to know I'm a kinked liberal with serious parental issues and problems with depression/anxiety.
posted by Phalene at 9:34 AM on July 18, 2010


EVERYONE HAS NIPPLES, AND MANY MEN HAVE MAN-BOOBS. GET OVER IT PEOPLE.

Oh, sorry. I thought I was on Facebook. Sorry about the shouting.

Anyway, how are those open-source social networks coming along?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case anyone else was more struck by the choral version of Creep in the trailer for The Social Network than the movie itself, it can be found here.
posted by uri at 9:40 AM on July 18, 2010


My site has facebook (not me) so the people who befriended my site are readers of it and contact people (like PR folks). One week when I logged in I found that one of the PR gals I speak to every week is also a really really good poledancer. While that was physically very impressive, I kinda didn't need to know that.
posted by dabitch at 9:48 AM on July 18, 2010


(nothing against poledancers - but I am not her girl-pal.)
posted by dabitch at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2010


I just got an email that my 80 year old grandmother requested to be my FB friend. Is she reading this thread? Ugh, what do I do?
posted by desjardins at 9:52 AM on July 18, 2010


Actually I'm not really concerned that grandma will know my DARK SEKRITZ. I'm more afraid that I'll become her tech support for FB.
posted by desjardins at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My problem with FB is not that I'm worried that others will catch on to the darker edges of my personality, but quite the opposite: everyone else is just so reserved, so POLITE... it feels more like I'm reading a press release than interacting with friends that I've known intimately for years.
posted by squeakyfromme at 10:02 AM on July 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


FaceBook brought my family together. Literally. My step-dad had disappeared from my life for 10 years and got in touch with me via FaceBook - I'm eternally grateful for that, since he's not tech savvy enough to have been able to get in touch with me by any other means. FB was easy - type in my name, there I am. No further work needed.

Now, if I can just get him to understand that no, no one is reading his screeds because FB is not-public and is not the same thing as a blog...

I really don't mind the pervasiveness of FB, the only "trouble" I've gotten myself into has been of the "TMI" variety and not of the "worlds colliding" genre.

(It is weird though, being "friends" with people I went to elementary school with. And then having to de-friend them when they start calling for the deaths of politicians they disagree with. Dude, it's not your political views that bug me, it's that you're calling for someone else's death. Can't cope. DEFRIEND.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2010


I guess it all depends on what stage of life you're at, but it was interesting to me that the focus of this article was on how the Facebook experience is ruined for many people when they get the inevitable "Friend" request from their parents, when in my case the exact opposite was true. I absent-mindedly accepted a "Friend" request from my 16-year-old stepson awhile ago before remembering that I had been "tagged" in a photo an old college buddy had put up where I'm smoking a monstrously huge bowl of weed. Plus, for the sake of family harmony, I had to run through my status update history to take down all of the posts where I complained about my stepson playing his drums too loud or other such offenses.

The only real revelatory information I've learned about him through Facebook is that he uses the word "Fuck" a lot.
posted by The Gooch at 10:44 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My problem with FB is not that I'm worried that others will catch on to the darker edges of my personality, but quite the opposite: everyone else is just so reserved, so POLITE... it feels more like I'm reading a press release than interacting with friends that I've known intimately for years.

I think that if it wasn't for the Internet I wouldn't be as fascinated with marketing and PR as I am. As it happens, that's become a part of my major now. Not because I envision a future wherein I'm selling some company's product, but because all of a sudden every single young person on the planet is discovering what it's like to brand themselves.

I forged a brand at the age of 13. I was posting on a college forum. I didn't want to be seen as young, so cleverly I lied and told people I was 15. That put me in high school! I also recall becoming a prodigal assistant professor of literature at Princeton when I realized that 15 didn't sound that impressive. By the end of the year I'd realized you were more prestigious if you owned your own forum, so I jumped into forum management. Then I started blogging as an extension of the brand, and left forums behind.

As a camp counselor I see all manner of high schoolers and middle schoolers who have Twitters, Tumblrs, Blogspots, all set up to optimize followers. It's not uncommon to see high schoolers who've already maneuvered themselves into writing articles for small magazines or who've sold small companies to slightly less small companies. But it's not about the joy of writing for them, or about the joy of entrepreneurialism. It's about establishing the brand.

But you hit a point where suddenly it hits you how fucking pointless branding yourself is. How much time you've wasted creating a persona that nobody gives more than half a shit about, and how that persona can't do anything useful other than make itself more famous. How pointless fame is when the only people that know you're famous aren't people you'd ever care to meet. (At 13 I made a Harry Potter fandub that got a hundred thousand views on Newgrounds. You don't want to know the kinds of people who like you when you're famous for a Harry Potter fandub.)

How people react to that first sudden encounter with the nihilist numbers-game fascinates me. How do you handle the realization that numbers are meaningless and easily manipulated? That all the things society tells you are important — money and celebrity mostly — don't mean a thing to anybody but you, and that you'll resent how important those values are? I'm sure a lot of people who work in PR and business hit upon that realization at some point in their careers. Now we have teenagers hitting the same realization.

I want to see how this affects marketing. Because once you decide it's pointless and a waste of effort, you can't completely go back. You still know how to phrase things in ways that sell, how to make things look better than they are. So either you deliberately reject all the things you know, or else you start thinking a lot more closely about how your branding affects yourself and the people around you.


There's a FB cycle that all my friends go through where they add friends, and add friends, and add friends... and then they reduce down to 20 friends and suddenly their feed becomes more honest and interesting. And the next time maybe they go down to 25, or to 30, because they're becoming more and more comfortable with being inappropriate, or ugly, or undesirable. One good thing about being a narcissist at a young age is that you've got a lot of time to decide you don't want to be one. I have no clue how it'll change the way we relate to one another, but I'm confident there'll be a change, and I'm excited to see what it is.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:49 AM on July 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


I want to see how this affects marketing. Because once you decide it's pointless and a waste of effort, you can't completely go back. You still know how to phrase things in ways that sell, how to make things look better than they are. So either you deliberately reject all the things you know, or else you start thinking a lot more closely about how your branding affects yourself and the people around you.

do you blog your observations somewhere or are you planning a thesis? seriously interested and if you're not wanting to put it on here then memail it please. I was 13 more than 30 years ago and everything you have just said is absolutely fascinating in context. I used to be in advertising about 15 years ago and now have lost touch with what "brand" means anymore tbh. plus I built a personal brand and tried to kill it within the past decade so there's a personal interest in what you're saying and wanting to understand more about the phenomena
posted by infini at 11:00 AM on July 18, 2010


I keep a FB account because I dislike talking on the phone and would rather communicate with people outside of my inner circle via email or FB. The people I am closest to are the only ones I really see in person or talk with on the phone, and I like it that way.

FB has been a nice diversion, and also a great way for me to post pictures of my son/new house/newsworthy things in my life to relatives and friends that are far away. I loathe the games that are on there (Mafia Wars, Bejeweled, Farmville, etc) and ignore them completely.

I refuse to get in political/religious/lifestyle discussions with some of my family and friends who love to use FB as a forum for their views. They run the gamut from atheists to fundamental Baptists to staunch Conservatives to LGBT to PWT. Fine with me. Whatever. I love 'em anyway. If they post shit I don't like, I just delete or ignore.

I keep a LinkedIn account for professional purposes, and a separate gmail email acct as well. LinkedIn has no photos, marital status or non-work related comments or info, and I keep it that way. The only folks I have on LinkedIn are former co-workers and business contacts. FB is for my social contacts, friends and family. Since I am job hunting, I keep my more controversial thoughts and actions to a minimum on FB because the reality is, a potential employer will have a look there if they want to. While my last job was more informal and used FB, I did not friend anyone from the office, and they didn't ask why. It was respected.

If people are smart about their use of FB, they should have no problems. Problems arise when folks want their 15 minutes of fame, or they have that same affliction that "Jerry Springer Show" guests have.
posted by mnb64 at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2010


I also have a handful of elementary school "friends" I dimly remember that added me, almost immediately upon signing up, and they are really conservative/tea party-ish. Every single one. Seems like.. a thing? All I can think of is that their world is pretty small so the moment they see someone they vaguely remember they want to add them. I don't know. But to their credit, none of them have paid any mind to my frequently political links or trolled the comments. Maybe they don't read it enough to notice, or hid me. Fine by me.

I don't understand the hubbub here. I sorta don't care if I piss these random people off, I will just de-friend them if they act up. I don't put my address in my profile so I'm not worried any of them will come break my door down screaming about Obama and birth certificates, or whatever. As for family/coworkers, just make a second account for if you must. It's easier and safer than juggling the privacy settings, which Facebook might disable or change at any time and without notice. They are dicks like that.
posted by cj_ at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have an ex girlfriend who gets high and then posts lewd or bizarre comments on my facebook stuff. I respond in some way, often a bizarre statement of my own. Then she realizes what she posted is embarrassing and her normal friends can see it so she deletes it, leaving my weird reply to her no longer existing weird statement on its own, hanging there. And facebook gives no notification that a comment from a thread you commented on was deleted, so I need to go back and look at the exchange to see that my reasonable reply to her oddness has become a crazy sounding nonsequitor.

If she were a random user of a forum I would call it trolling.
posted by idiopath at 11:21 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


do you blog your observations somewhere or are you planning a thesis? seriously interested and if you're not wanting to put it on here then memail it please. I was 13 more than 30 years ago and everything you have just said is absolutely fascinating in context. I used to be in advertising about 15 years ago and now have lost touch with what "brand" means anymore tbh. plus I built a personal brand and tried to kill it within the past decade so there's a personal interest in what you're saying and wanting to understand more about the phenomena

I'm going into my junior year right now, and so I'm only just now trying to take the things I think and fashion them into "serious" ideas. I started a few blogs this last year, but don't have one at present. I feel really uncomfortable whenever something I write gets passed around under my name, especially when it's something that I wrote at 2 in the morning and don't feel a big personal connection to. (I really really really didn't want to be "the guy who blogs about the iPad" in particular.)

Right now, unless I get a better idea, I think I'm going to be playing around with the idea of pseudonymous brands. I don't like the idea of turning myself into a brand, but how about the space where I interact with a friend? Something forms that's a combination of our interests. And I'm also playing with completely anonymous brands, and with the more "factory pop" model where there's a real person there but their identity's completely forged by somebody else.

I feel like there must be ways to use marketing/branding principles to create things that are positive and useful and still somehow honest. But all my ideas are still pretty unsophisticated. I'd love to email/MeMail with you and talk about this in depth; I especially would like to hear your stories/thoughts on the industry. (And anybody else, of course, who's got experience with this. I'm not even an amateur and would love to talk to anybody who has anything to say.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:24 AM on July 18, 2010


I also have a handful of elementary school "friends" I dimly remember that added me, almost immediately upon signing up, and they are really conservative/tea party-ish.

Total aside, seeking anecdata: It seems that nearly all of my old school acquaintances on FB who are of the wingnut, Tea Party-type perspectives are the ones who stayed in the town we all grew up in and have never left. My friends and acquaintances who have gone out into the world, on the other hand, have a much more balanced worldview and almost never post insane political comments as status updates....anybody else notice this? It's gotten to where now, when an old acquaintance friends me on FB, I can infer much about their worldview by looking at how far from home they've moved. There are obviously exceptions, but broadly speaking I find this to be the case consistently.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:27 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


(My theory is that it isn't the world that opens people up, but that the people who left home were curious about the world in the first place and left because they were open to it.)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:28 AM on July 18, 2010


I can infer much about their worldview by looking at how far from home they've moved.
Totally, totally yes. I imagine mileage may vary on this if your hometown was NYC or San Francisco, but the people that stayed close to the pop. 15,000 town in Kentucky where I attended high school are pretty predictable.
posted by jeoc at 11:35 AM on July 18, 2010


Do other people's bosses and coworkers make friending them on Facebook a requirement of the job or something?

Some of my friends from college started their own business. They were all young guys (without commitments like children) and they wanted to make the business a success, so they would often work late. Most evenings they would all go to one person's house, where they would take turns to cook and eat dinner together. They wouldn't always talk shop there, but it was hardly a rare thing. Jokes were told, personal friendships were cemented. They were also facebook friends.

Well, the company started doing OK. After a few years they had a few employees. If you were one of their employees it absolutely wasn't expected or a requirement that you would work late and eat dinner with them at 10pm - it certainly wasn't a job requirement or anything like that. However, I can imagine that if you were young and career-oriented, you would maybe think that occasionally attending those dinners would help you achieve your career objectives more quickly.

Now, obviously, going to a boss's house for dinner is different to being facebook friends with your boss - but what they have in common is, in a smaller business where the people are all already friends (which is unavoidable), it might serve your interests better to opt into that.


The posts that I make to FB, and the posts that virtually all my FB friends make to FB are saying things, not yelling them. If your experience is different, and you get lots of "...AND YOUR TITS WERE HANGING OUT? OMG1!", I can only imagine that you have, well, obnoxious and stupid FB friends.

I'm involved with a university dance group, so I have quite a few 18-year-old girls as my facebook friends. They aren't stupid people, indeed in one-on-one conversations all of them seem intelligent and sensible. And yet, as I look through my facebook news feed, I can still see text-speak, photographs of people on the beach in bikinis, people complaining about their hangovers (you can legally drink at age 18 in my country), pictures of three girls (trying to) make out with each other at the same time, and one picture showing a girl and a guy (obviously at a party) fellating a giant pink dildo.

Now IMHO there's nothing wrong with any of those things except the text-speak - but I think they demonstrate that the girls think of facebook as a means for communicating with their peers, rather than with their relatives and future co-workers.

And hey, it can work like that for them if they don't friend their relatives or future co-workers - I say they can use the tool however they like.
posted by Mike1024 at 11:58 AM on July 18, 2010


Do other people's bosses and coworkers make friending them on Facebook a requirement of the job or something?

In fact, yes. Some of them, at least. My brother's company rolled out a strategy where everyone who wasn't signed up was told to do so, treat it as an extension of their web presence and make something like 30 friends within a week.
posted by el_lupino at 12:09 PM on July 18, 2010


5. Withdrawal. To avoid problems, I'm going to have to assume that everything I say is public, not private like I used to think. I'll minimize my posts or stop using Facebook altogether.


See, if you just starts with this assumption, with this "stage," everything will be fine.

I keep my profile public. I say what I say to everyone. I don't discourage my peer groups from communicating with each other; I find it amusing when those worlds collide.

I understand what I say is out there for everyone, and I am circumspect about what I post. I don't post about work, I don't post about other people, I don't post about my personal life. I treat it as a means of entertaining myself and others. Part of that is stirring up conversations between disparate social networks that wouldn't otherwise interact.

I do occasionally post about politics and religion. If the people in my network don't like it, they are welcome to leave.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:36 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Total aside, seeking anecdata: It seems that nearly all of my old school acquaintances on FB who are of the wingnut, Tea Party-type perspectives are the ones who stayed in the town we all grew up in and have never left. My friends and acquaintances who have gone out into the world, on the other hand, have a much more balanced worldview and almost never post insane political comments as status updates....anybody else notice this?

Yes, I have observed the very same thing. Many people I know have moved out of VT and then gone back, and they're pretty sane. The ones who never, ever left? For the most part, they're totally bats. Some exceptions, but they certainly tend to be more vocal and more conservative (in a crazy way) than my college friends.

(Of course, I also went to hippie college, so that skews the experience A LOT.)

In terms of moving around, I don't think it's mileage so much as number of places visited/lived in. Rhode Island isn't far from Vermont, but I got here via Massachusetts and Iceland. I have friends in Boston who are originally from Vermont who lived abroad for a while who are much, MUCH more liberal than Vermonsters I know who ended up a similar distance away in Connecticut who haven't traveled extensively.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:57 PM on July 18, 2010


One of my biggest problems with FB is that the people in my social networks, and the social networks themselves, shift, change, grow and overlap faster than I can quantify or track. Nor would I want to. So what happens is that I go somewhere, do activity X and meet person Y, and then have to add/comment/tag/remove-tag/respond/delete/hide/etc. another person to the pool. I've stopped participating in this altogether in a sense, and started putting more energy on the events themselves. And this has changed my behavior at those events as well. I bring my camera less. I don't vie to be in everybody's pictures. I try to talk less and listen more.

In all, my awareness about the 'aftermath' and social expectations of attending events and participating in things has inspired an annoyance and disgust with wanting to quantify and share every experience. It all starts to sound and look like chatter. And when I stopped actively contributing to the stream of information and chatter, I started being amazing by the observations and I things I learned. And I'm even much more selective about what of that I even share. Because when I'm talking*, I'm not listening. Which is fine, but with everybody else talking too, it's important for me to re-calibrate and find the new balance of give and take.

Back to reading...

*Or Tweeting/taking-pictures/updating/commenting/tagging/etc.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:11 PM on July 18, 2010


Er, 'being amazing' should be 'being amazed'. Freudian slip of my inner desire, I suppose.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2010


My brother's company rolled out a strategy where everyone who wasn't signed up was told to do so, treat it as an extension of their web presence and make something like 30 friends within a week.

Yikes. I think if a company requires shit like that then they should have no say about what you do on there or which friends you make. Otherwise, it's like your boss demanding you put him up for the night then firing you because you didn't have the cereal he likes for breakfast.

Employers have way too much control over people's lives.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:33 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is really only a problem for two-faced liars.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:51 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Food for thought:

The world is headed towards a point where everyone has embarrassing pictures online. This is, for all intents and purposes, the same as a world where no one does.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:59 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is really only a problem for two-faced liars people with mainstream jobs in industries with a highly conformist culture but some non-traditional, non-conforming beliefs, ideas, or activities.

FIFY.
posted by jeoc at 4:02 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My brother's company ...Yikes. I think if a company requires shit like that then they should have no say about what you do on there or which friends you make. Otherwise, it's like your boss demanding you put him up for the night then firing you because you didn't have the cereal he likes for breakfast.

It backfired relatively quickly precisely because they didn't set up those restrictions. Despite being an IT company, the boss seemed rather dim about FB. The tech people (including my brother) despised the task, but quickly realized they just needed to find a few Kevin Bacons and let the work do itself. Someone had a younger sister or cousin or something with 2000+ friends who confirmed every request, and of course that person linked in with numerous other such Kevin Bacons and the whole thing was done in a day or two without accomplishing any actual work or networking.

Employers have way too much control over people's lives.

As it happens, my brother quit this past month to do other things. Even in a down economy, he could barely keep track of all the people who wanted his particular skill set, and his former employers just added one too many layers of batshit crazy to the real work. (The FB was the least of it, really.)
posted by el_lupino at 4:45 PM on July 18, 2010


the polish site nasze klase is my favourite social network - theres no facebooky trivial updates but constant marriages, babies and honeymoon pictures from bali.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:05 PM on July 18, 2010


Total aside, seeking anecdata: It seems that nearly all of my old school acquaintances on FB who are of the wingnut, Tea Party-type perspectives are the ones who stayed in the town we all grew up in and have never left.

Yes, thank you for pointing out the obvious (in retrospect), this is exactly it. All of the people I was talking about are still in fact living in my (small, hickish) home town. Some of them went to college and then moved back immediately, but most never left. I have not had a single random friend request from people that went on to better things.

I was utterly miserable in the town I grew up and couldn't wait to get out (getting drunk and cruising around in your pickup truck looking for "fags" to beat up was considered a good saturday night, and I guess I was one of the "fags"). These people seemed to love the place and thrive there, but now I wonder if it isn't so clean-cut when they are seeking out me -- of all people -- on facebook.

Life is strange.
posted by cj_ at 8:03 PM on July 18, 2010


I’ve had four people from elementary school/junior high friend me this weekend. One of whom I had been close to when we were 12, but had been told had died when we were 16-17. My best friend from elementary school friended me a few months ago-her home life growing up had been horrible, and I knew she dropped out to get married and have a kid at 15-I lost track of her after that, but didn’t expect too much. We met up a little while ago-I can’t describe the relief it was to know that she was happy and doing all right with her life.

So I guess this is saying that it’s good to know all of my high school dropout friends are still doing ok. Even if it’s kind of weird to realize they’re all parents now. And I have no idea how I would have found out if it weren’t for facebook.

Of course, one of the last things I posted on my wall was the NYT magazine article on abortion, but if they don’t like it-fuck ‘em.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:54 AM on July 19, 2010


The whole "grief" analogy is totally wrong, as someone already noted.

5. Withdrawal. To avoid problems, I'm going to have to assume that everything I say is public, not private like I used to think.

The thing is that a lot of us started at here: there is still fun and social networking to be had that involves public communication. What is MetaFilter, after all?

If you go into Facebook assuming anything you or your friends post about you will be public and act accordingly (and delete friends who don't), it seems that you should usually be safe (excluding unusual job/family/other personal situations).ld stay quiet online.

But still, let's say you're not on Facebook and one of your friends uploads an embarrassing picture of you, say naked and wearing a viking helmet, and snorting cocaine while a prostitute performs oral sex on you. Your friend can still attach your name to that photo, regardless of whether or not you use Facebook.

If you are on Facebook, you can untag yourself from photos. If you're not on favorite, sure, the embarrassing photo isn't linked to a profile, but it's still your name attached. And you can't even see it yourself, let alone remove your name from it.

I guess it seems to me that the "problems" of Facebook are not unique to Facebook.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:08 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


one of your friends uploads an embarrassing picture of you, say naked and wearing a viking helmet, and snorting cocaine while a prostitute performs oral sex on you. Your friend can still attach your name to that photo, regardless of whether or not you use Facebook.

Yeah, it doesn't even have to be a picture of you for someone to attach your name to it.
posted by immlass at 9:13 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


My brother's company rolled out a strategy where everyone who wasn't signed up was told to do so, treat it as an extension of their web presence and make something like 30 friends within a week.

How did that work out? Is everybody now wearing their 30 pieces of flair?
posted by flabdablet at 6:57 PM on July 19, 2010


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