09 July 2008

what is the point of facebook?

i've been wondering for some time now just what i should be doing with social networking sites. wife got me to join facebook--against my better judgment at the time. someone else got me to join linkedin. i won't touch myspace.

once in a while, i would accept a friend request or set my status to something inane, but recently i decided i would use facebook as something of an aggregator, similar to google reader. i figured i could follow the work or goings on of interesting people. however, i wonder if that is an appropriate use of the site. i sent a friend request to a celebrity of sorts, who promptly responded with a polite 'do i know you?' (an entirely appropriate response for someone who uses facebook for private friend and life tracking).

so what is the purpose of facebook? i don't find anything particularly redeeming about it other than a way to sell ad space. what are people's expectations about the meaning of 'friend' on these sites?


  1. I prefer friendfeed for viewing my various friend's social stuff. I guess Facebook has all those really cool applications!

  2. The main reason I visit Facebook is to check my word games. I keep getting sucked into WordTwist matches. I also can't stay away from any kind of Boggle variant. Scrabulous is great too.

    But if it weren't for the games, I wouldn't visit the site much. Like LinkedIn, I would have set up my profile and left it untouched for long stretches of time.

    And yeah... there should be more relationships than just "friend". "Friend" or "not friend" is a harsh binary judgment call. You should be able to "acquaintance" someone. Or call someone a "long lost friend", "best friend", or "friend wannabe"... I'd be Dale Asberry's "friend wannabe"! But I couldn't "friend" him, really. We talked, like what, twice? Hm.

    They need better ad targeting, too. I'd be willing to click a "buzz off" button to remove some of them. Otherwise they don't know I'm not overweight, that I don't need to buy a home in Washington DC, or that my wife would sell any diamond I'd give her.

  3. Facebook does the exact same thing that diaries, pen pals, conventions, BBS's, chatrooms, AIM, and blogs do : Offers a channel for inane communication.

    It sells itself as so much more, and granted, there are doo-dads that allow one to fiddle with all kinds of stupid data. But it's essentially the same thing as a Trapper Keeper with stickers of your favorite bands and a 'secret' list of who you have a crush on that you share with your middle-school buddies.

    It's the 'party' mentality that some people never grow out of. Young people tend to love parties. So much going on, so many people. It makes one feel that one is part of something big and interesting and important. But wise people realize that they're still hanging out with the same dozen people at the parties, regardless of how big it is. People who use facebook haven't quite figured this out.

    For me, I'll stick to blogs, AIM, and e-mail. I figure that only 2 people read unacoder's page anyways, so it's practically a private channel.

  4. i'm discovering some groups and people i probably wouldn't have bothered to find. for example, i just sent a note to my state rep to encourage him to vote against REAL ID. being lazy and uninformed, i prolly wouldn't have done that without facebook. thanks, alan.

  5. The point of Facebook, is where people can chat and catch up with old friends from high school and college, or for kids friends from school.