Social Media and You: Why Facebook isn’t really the end-all be-all
Posted by Angela
Is anyone else getting a bit fed up with Facebook?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of social media – for personal use, for professional networking, for development of hobbies and interests, and for community and social activism (among a million other reasons). I’m on Facebook; Google +; Twitter; Pinterest (god help me); Instagram; haven’t quite figured out Reddit or Tumblr yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. I use them all to varying degrees and for different purposes. So I’m not here to complain about how cyber socializing is stunting our emotional growth as a culture.
That’s for another post.
No, my beef with Facebook is much more personal. And it’s been a long, intense relationship that has slowly over time become a bit abusive, but like real life, there are a multitude of reasons why I’m having trouble leaving. Still, it’s getting to the point where I have more gripes than compliments. What’s up with that?
Facebook has been all over the news in regards to privacy issues, lawsuits, and the public sell-out of creator Mark Zuckerberg. While FB does take steps to protect its users’ privacy, these steps are minimal, often confusing, and usually only enforced to their own benefit over the benefits of the people the privacy rules were created to protect. There are constantly chain posts traveling from news feed to news feed about this week’s new privacy scandal and how to prevent it. Yeah, most of them are bull and paranoia, but I don’t see any other social media site having these issues. As with all urban legends, there has to be a grain of truth somewhere to start the ball rolling.
And on the topic of Z-Woww’s very public sale of his baby and descent into madness, it’s caused a chain reaction of a lot of changes to the Book that many people don’t like. Which leads me to the next topic…
We were all used to the ads on the sidebar of the page. They were tailored to what we liked. I appreciated the thought and effort – creepy internet stalker though it may be – but then one day I went to my personal wall and saw a big honking banner ad right below my personal info and right above my wall posts – and it was about waist trimming, to boot! Oh no you didn’t, FB! I can tolerate the thoughtful ads on the side, away from my daily perusal. Hell, I’ve even clicked a few of them (coz seriously, who can resist a pretty Modcloth dress picture?) – but these banner ads (ON MY WALL) have nothing to do with me or my interests, and they’re smack dab in the way of people trying to view my wall. And they started curiously weeks after Facebook went public. Hmm, Sherlock would have a field day with that mystery.
Also after the sale, you started seeing a lot more “Want to say hello to [insert friend you knew six years ago and only friended back to be polite]? Buy them candy! Send them a card! Give us money and we’ll show up at their door with a singing telegram! Give us more money and we’ll send them a human heart to demonstrate your love and devotion!” (Or maybe it was just the candy ad. I can’t remember.) What’s more, now instead of offering to create an ad based on your content that’s placed conveniently in the sidebar (where it belongs), you can pay to promote EACH AND EVERY POST YOU MAKE. You know, so more people will see that your coffee this morning smells like hazelnut when you specifically ordered a mocha/french vanilla blend. (Those jerks.) It’s consumerism at its worst; as soon as there’s a possibility that money can be made by something, the owners of said something have to pull out all the stops to make sure they WILL make that money. It’s even rumored that Page posts aren’t being as widespread anymore to push Page owners to seriously consider paying for post promotion. And the suggestion for paying?
Yeah, that’s a $5 minimum for a promoted post. If you’re active on your Facebook page, that can end up being a lot of freaking money! And although I’ve scoured the site, I can’t determine if that’s per post, or per view of said post. Different FAQs on the help page imply different answers – which is another problem in and of itself.
Listen Facebook. You’re great. I really like you. But forcing me to pay for all these things makes me feel like you’re only into me for my money, like some kind of gold-digger.
I suppose I shouldn’t be blaming poor Facebook for this one. I mean, all it wants to do is fit in with the other websites at school. But the internet, while it has become the platform for voicing opinions and being heard, it also invites – nay, creates – a whole new type of junior high bully: the internet troll.
The internet troll is “One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers.” [urbandictionary.com] And Facebook has it’s very own version of the troll; while trolls are usually anonymous or hiding under a forum alias or some other pseudonym, Facebook makes sure you know who the hell it is you’re talking to. Which is usually great! – except for when you get into vague internet arguments with “friends” (you know, people you friend who you hardly ever see and wouldn’t be able to hold a regular conversation with) because you post something to your wall that they disagree with/find offensive/want to troll/otherwise find useless. The internet is the worst place for these types of arguments, because of one of the basic issues with non-confrontational communication: words in text form convey no emotional meaning or subtext. As an ex-writing major, I can tell you that words on a page, especially in short quip format, and double-especially when written by someone without formal training, rarely ever convey the exact meaning that the writer intended the reader to interpret. In fact, that’s one of the best things about books: the writer means one thing, and a skilled writer will get that across, but even so, each reader will interpret that meaning a little differently and come away from the work with a different perspective and opinion. But in a forum like Facebook, where we’re encouraged to express “how it’s going”, anyone can interpret your shared words, videos, pictures, and memes with an intention far different from what you meant – and they aren’t afraid to call you out on it.
Example: A few weeks ago, I shared a picture on my wall of President Obama with a quote from him: “If there’s even one thing we can do – even one life we can save – we have an obligation to try.” I found that quote inspiring, and shared the picture, not noticing where it originally came from. It happened to come with a caption about the president’s gun law proposals. This instigated anti-gun control talk on my page, and some anti-Obama talk as well, when all I wanted to do was share what I thought was an inspiring quote, regardless of context. But people will read words – and take situational and environmental clues – and interpret their own meanings.
When on the internet, even when you know the other person, it’s so much easier to jump to a defensive stance when the words are insinuating an idea you don’t agree with. This internet-bravado phenomenon happens in every corner of the web, but on Facebook, it’s so much more personal because we’re using real names. There isn’t anonymity to hide behind, although the fact that it’s the internet gives us a sense of that protective anonymous shield – and it’s really just a piece of easily broken glass. When a flame war breaks out on your page, it’s not just you and the people involved that see it. It’s your friends. Your family. Your business associates. Anyone who can see your content can see whatever sordid bits you have there. If you’re like me, with varied friends and interests, it can get a little messy trying to juggle what is and isn’t appropriate for everyone to see. And Facebook doesn’t make it easy, with it’s complicated privacy guidelines.
Without a doubt, the thing that pisses me off about Facebook the most is the assholes. And again, I suppose it’s really indicative of our culture and the culture of the internet today that allows these asshats to exist on Facebook (well that, and Facebook’s terrible policies).
Have you ever breastfed a child before? I haven’t, but I’ve seen it happen. THE NIPPLE IS COVERED. You can see just as much boobage at the beach or in a Victoria’s Secret ad as you can in a breastfeeding picture, yet those get taken down as profane while these disgusting pages run by sexist, ignorant people get to stay up to preserve “freedom of speech”. And this is what really burns me about Facebook. Breastfeeding in public is controversial, I get that. I support it, but if a woman is uncomfortable with it for whatever reason, I won’t force it. Facebook doesn’t want to get its hands dirty by standing for a side in a controversial issue. Sure. Okay. I disagree with that, but whatever.
You know what ISN’T controversial? Violence against women. That’s pretty much understood as wrong. And yet, those pages remain untouched for the most part because they’re funny, or aren’t serious, or are exercising freedom of speech. Where’s my freedom to punch these guys in the face?
Kidding. (Sort of.)
Facebook doesn’t seem to understand what it means to cater to its customers. I know plenty of women who dedicate time to reporting pages like this that they find. I know entire groups filled with hundreds of women (and men!) who want to find, report, and get banned these pages. How many ignorant people can really be arguing in favor of the page “Ride your girlfriend softly so she doesn’t wake up”? (If I could find it, I would link to it to prove its real. I think it may have FINALLY been recently banned.)
And hey! See the purple underline? Facebook, I do have to give you kudos for apparently making a clear stand that there is a difference between SEX and GENDER. Thanks for that.
So after all this, you’re probably asking me: Angela, if you hate Facebook so much, why the HELL do you still use it so much? Well, because it’s there – my friends primarily use it – it’s still much better in terms of professional networking and social promotion than Google + – it’s easier to invite to a FB event than to send out invites to EVERYONE -
Ultimately, my lovelies, it’s hard to leave an abusive relationship. Even if G+ is nicer and more handsome and doesn’t just love me for my money.
Do you use Facebook? How and why? And what do you really think about it?
About AngelaI'm a holistic health advocate, an entrepreneur, and, of course, a writer. I blog about holistic wellness, alternative living, geek chic, introspection, spirituality, and the arts. In my downtime, when there is some, I sew and craft candles and natural bath products for extra cash, play with my adorable kitty Miss Daisy, and role-play characters that I could never be in real life.
Posted on February 24, 2013, in Geekdom, Internet and Blogging, Politics and Activism and tagged advertising, anonymity, Facebook, internet, Privacy, Sexism, Social network. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.