Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Award for Most Pointless Grass Roots Protest Goes To....

Quit Facebook Day. In case you didn’t know, and you probably didn’t because the brain trust that came up with this idea apparently don’t own calendars, yesterday was Quit Facebook Day. Here’s a hint, guys. When you’re trying to kick start some sort of viral movement to theoretically get the largest possible group of people you can to quit using a social network, maybe don’t pick a holiday where none of them are at work or anywhere near a computer as your launch day. If you were pushing Drunk Boogie Boarding Awareness Day, maybe. But really, yesterday? Really, really poor planning on your part.

But clearly this is only the start of why Quit Facebook Day is so full of fail. The founders say that it is all to raise awareness of Facebook’s repeated invasion of user's privacy and what they claim are shady privacy setting policy changes that they Trojan horse like Senators who pass weird bills late at night when no one is watching the CSPAN feed. I don’t disagree with any of this. I’m sure there’s some people on the bandwagon who are also Henry David Thoreau-ing their pants about people developing addictions to Facebook and want to bring us all back to simpler, make-your-own-butter times.

Let’s tackle that one first. Now, you’ll find no one who hates Farmville and Mafia Wars more than this girl. But everyone’s allowed to have their Words with Friends, DigiPets, Fantasy Football leagues or whatever it is that keeps them from snapping and mowing down their coworkers on hot August days. However, if you are smugly telling me that I should in any way feel shame or guilt about relying on Facebook in some way, suck it. I do rely on Facebook. Heavily. I’ll explain.

When you’re in your teens and early 20’s, you’ve got your gang. You’ll always be a gang. You have your crazy fun times. You go to bars and concerts and you wake up in bushes. And then one friend gets a kickass job in a far off city. And then another friend gets accepted into grad school in another far off city. And then yet another friend meets and marries a boy from another country entirely. You understand how this works. Then you start throwing in the natural human process of baby making. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine what it was like before Facebook. Why should I apologize for using a website that I can log into and see pictures of my best friend’s baby now that she lives in London? Where’s the shame in checking the site to find out that a friend I haven’t seen in a year is going to be in town over the weekend and wants to go have drinks? I fail to see why I should be at all apologetic about the fact that the site serves as an internet-based social organizer of sorts for me.

But that’s not the big issue here, according to the organizers of National Quit Facebook Day if You Actually Had to Work on The Holiday Weekend. The issue is privacy and Facebook dicking over their users and selling their information and the fact that users’ data is not actually theirs. And to that, the most astute point I feel I really must make here is: uh, duh. Facebook’s CEO seems as slimy as Dov Charney oil wrestling Terry Richardson (Jesus forgive me for what I just typed) but that’s really not the point to me. Some people are mad about the fact that when you go to a website like Blockbuster or CNN, the articles or pages you view or any information gathered from your visit to that site can be connected with your profile information and sold to advertisers. Supposedly, you can go into your Facebook account and change your security settings to prevent this.

I haven’t which means that, were I to be worked up like these people, some big ol’ scary corporation out there now knows (based on my internet article reading today) that I am interested in CNN articles about men wearing Spanx for “back support”. They can now cross-reference that with the fact that my religious views are that I “worship Diet Dr. Pepper” and I enjoy the films of Robert Mitchum. I look forward seeing what spam offers come out the other end when you feed that into the machine.

There’s one hard and fast (pause to allow our less mature readers a brief giggle) rule here. NASA is working on cooking me up a font big enough to express what I am about to say with as much passion as I feel about the matter, but for now this will have to do:


It really is that simple. Yes, the fact that data mining leads to all kind of “helpful suggestions” on the sides of pages that are a) anything but helpful and b) usually a little creepy is kind of annoying. I chalk that up as being a price that I have to pay to use a social networking tool that is free of charge to keep up with my friends. As far as my pictures and information not being mine, I’m okay with the fact that Facebook now owns over 40 pictures of my friends and I sitting on patios of bars or pictures I have taken with my Blackberry of weird looking dogs or funny typos on signs. If you’re putting copyrightable pictures or writings up on Facebook, you are a moron. If you’re uploading pictures of your friends peeing on you while you’re passed out, just do so with the mental image of every potential boss flipping your resume over at the start of every job interview you ever go to and seeing that picture before the first question is asked.

So I ended up celebrating Quit Facebook Day by meeting up with my friend Kelli, who moved to San Francisco last year and whom I keep in touch with primarily through Facebook, and we drank margaritas at Gloria’s. It was fun. Feel free to sell any and all of that information to Eli Lily, Philip Morris, Time Warner or whoever makes Bumpits.

As a side note: Hey Facebook – I just wanted you to know that my real name is not Amanda Cobra and my religious views are not actually based around carbonated beverages. So in a weird way, I kind of feel like I double-crossed you. Sucker.


Anonymous said...

Good points, though I never joined facebook for a simple reason- if I want to see photos of my best friend's new baby- they can email them to me. Same with a visiting friend- email me (or call!) and let me know when you are in town. I don't understand why a third party social platform is necessary for any of that. Plus I don't have to spend any time complaining about facebook or other facebook users, looking at Mafia Wars, or any of that garbage.

amandacobra said...

And see, this is maybe why I love Facebook so much. First off, I hate talking on the phone more than just about anything on the planet. Text messaging was a godsend for me. I answer approximately one in every 694 calls. I'm admittedly horrible about it.

And as far as the email thing, before Facebook, I feel like that was a dicey setup. I know I ended up on the distro list for baby pictures and dinner invites for people I barely knew. It's not like it took up a boatload of time to just kind of skim and politely ignore or briefly respond or whatever. But how I got added to those email chains, I never knew. And I think it's pretty widely accepted that no one is allowed to respond to an email of "Hey everyone, look at our new baby!" with "Unsubscribe."

I am no Facebook shill and if people don't like it and don't want to use it, I'm not making commission so it's really not a big deal. Just for me personally, everything you listed (phone calls, email distro lists) were always things that took just enough effort to ensure I probably wouldn't do them. Now it's easier than ever to remember I need to wish someone happy anniversary or tell them their moderately attractive baby is super adorable.

Anonymous said...

I think I get it...it's more about you finding the information you need/want rather than having it foisted upon you. To me it just seems like too much effort and that there will be so much "noise" from stuff/people I don't want to see or hear from that any positive benefits will be negated. I hear Farmville is pretty cool though!

amandacobra said...

Exactly. I hated Facebook at first. And then I learned the key for me to avoiding exactly what you just addressed. Erhm...how to put this delicately? Just be real particular with your friend request confirmation criteria and life on Facebook is a lot easier. That's what I learned, at least. Might sound horrible but since I'm not using it as a promotion tool, I can justify it to myself an not quite so elitist.

Anonymous said...

Moderately attractive? Pah! You better clarify yourself, missy. x