Saman Shad: Has Facebook Turned Us Into Boring ‘Oversharers’?

The social network has turned its users into marketable narcissists.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Facebook, can I share something with you? It’s about our relationship” was written by Saman Shad, for Guardian Weekly on Thursday 4th October 2012 12.44 UTC

It’s getting complicated, Facebook. A billion of us use you, but we are getting increasingly frustrated with you. It’s us, not you. You’ve made us change, and not in a good way. It used to be that a status update and the occasional photo was the most we’d share, and now, well now there are like, so many likes. Our appetite for famous quotes in fancy fonts knows no bounds. We can’t get enough pictures of cats snuggling in blankets. Something else happened too. We now feel compelled to overshare. We log in on just to mention the random things our children say, the stuff we ate for dinner, how our dog snored in his sleep – myriad details of our infinitely boring lives, that we feel perhaps are worthy of attention. No wonder latest Australian research shows that using you bring out the narcissist in us.

And then there is you. Finding more and more ways to use information you collect about us to make money. Lots and lots of money.

Ah, who are we kidding? It’s not like you’re listening. You stopped listening a long time ago. It’s why your users are becoming frustrated. Not only are Australians turning away from you in increasing numbers, your American users are as well. And they are dissatisfied just like the rest of us. The kids too, the ones you hoped would join as soon as they turned 13 are just not that into you. They are a bit fickle, hanging out with the newer, cooler kids on the block like Tumblr and Twitter. It’s like, who wants to be friends with their mum, you know? Because once your mum, heck, your grandma joins something, it immediately loses its appeal.

Let’s be honest here, Facebook. It’s not just about us, your users, any more is it? There are your shareholders to think of as well. And at the end of the day, they’re most interested in profits. Post-IPO is when you changed the most. You thought you could act like it wouldn’t affect our relationship. But it has. We just don’t feel as loyal to you as before and we’re a bit weary of your use and abuse of things we thought were private. And really, how much do we want to know about other people’s lives? People we may have met once or twice now seem to be linked to us only through you.

So where does that leave us, Facebook? Maybe stop trying to squeeze money out of every piece of information you have on us? Think you could do that? Wait, what? You’re going to sell to marketers more access to us? So now we can be marketed to even when we aren’t on your site. Well, maybe, just stop bombarding us with ads then, at least? Please? No?

You’re making this hard. We’ve given you so many chances. Maybe we need to change. Maybe we should start going offline a bit. Not all the time. Just a bit. Reconnect with people IRL (In Real Life). Maybe we could start grabbing coffees rather than “poking” each other. Maybe we could pick up the phone rather than reeling off very long status updates …

It’s not going to happen though, is it? You know this. You know how “busy” we are. Busy trying to keep up with lives that somehow feel empty without the interferences of emails, tweets, status updates. In this globalised economy of ours, we are increasingly spread across the world too. Through you we manage to keep updated on the lives of friends and families far away. People who, without you, we may have lost contact with. And that would definitely be a sad thing. Some families are held together only through you. Which is, perhaps, a sadder thing.

There’s no denying it, we are hooked. There will be times when we flirt with leaving you, but we come back. Mostly because you help us feel connected to people in a uniquely intimate way. So maybe Facebook, we’re just not that into you like we once were. We may still use you, but not with the same ferocity we once did. Let’s just say the passion has died and we are openly looking for other suitors. Until something better comes along, guess we’ll just have to settle, with you.

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