Facebook is evil?

My friend Carl Pultz pointed me to The Idler’s website. Tom Hodgkinson (a.k.a “The Idler”) writes about his efforts to -- as he beautifully puts it -- “return dignity to the art of loafing.” But I don’t believe Tom is a great idler. He’s too productive. His recent article about Facebook in The Guardian newspaper is long and well researched. It explains why Tom despises Facebook, the online social networking site with 59 million current users and 2 million new ones each week.

If you don’t have a Facebook page, it may be hard to understand the appeal. It’s basically a self-promotional tool that lets you check in on your friends, send them pictures, play games, and suck their blood if you install the Vampire application. That’s right. Suck their blood. A co-worker told me that when he joined Facebook, it felt like he’d pulled back a curtain and discovered a big, ongoing party.

Thousands of time-wasting programs called “applications” let you send cartoon cakes, throw pictures of Obama, and compare your favorite movies with those of your friends.

I usually ignore application-based shenanigans. In fact, I have 65 unread invitations from my friends, including six to become a werewolf, four to engage in a virtual snowball fight, and one to take a test to find out who I was in a past life.

I’m not interested in my past life. I am, however, interested in the future. So when I came across the “How will you die?” application, listed under the heading “Just for fun,” I was definitely interested. How WILL I die? By nuclear explosion? Fiery car crash? Chicken bone?

I clicked to add the application, but before I learned anything, the “Invite your friends” message popped up. Annoying.

You see, in order for me to discover the manner of my death, I have to invite eighteen of my friends to find out, too. Problem is, most of my friends would be weirded out by the exercise. I honestly cannot think of eighteen acquaintances strange enough to welcome an e-mail that said, “Your friend Brenda wants you to take the ‘How will you die?’ quiz.”

I must have a morbid streak or a strong sense of cosmic grief or something. I like running in cemeteries. I love choral requiems. Verdi, Faure, Durufle, Mozart all wrote Requiems I almost know by heart.

So I’ll have to wait to find out exactly how I’ll die. In the meantime, I’ll dedicate myself to the art of loafing. What else is there to do?

* * * * *

Link to The Idler:
[ http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook ]http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook

(I’m learning a new non-liturgical Requiem, Lux Aeterna, by American composer Morten Lauridsen. You can hear it in one of two upcoming concerts, March 3rd and 6th.) Concert link: http://www.rossings.org/orgMain.asp?storyID=15&orgID=3&sid=



Time Suck

Facebook can be an incredible time suck, and I'm not that fond of it either. It is the social networking equivalent of junk food most of the time.

What I do find it to be good for though is organizing groups of people on a small scale. I'm not talking about the big "Let's see if we can find a million people who hate GW" type groups - but the smaller groups - under 50 people. Here in NJ we have a new media group that meets regularly and Facebook has been a boon in finding new people and also keeping current ones informed of our actual real life meets.

I'm actually enjoying micro-blogging on Twitter a hell of a lot more. I get really interesting and oftentimes actionable information and links from people I follow on there. Also - I get info from people I would otherwise never have access to.



Hi, Rob,

Great to hear from you! I haven't tried Twitter. My chief interest in the subject of social networking is related to broadcasting. The topic of how audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented comes up a lot in broadcasting centers and networks all over the country. The good news for people with specific interests (such as classical music, in my case) is that the web strips away much of the cultural trappings that turn people off. Still, even on the web, stuff creeps in. Check out my NEA friend Aaron Green, who maintains the classical music page on About.com. Note the tux.



Facebook and WXXI

Andrew Wheeland's picture

Despite how evil (or not) as Facebook might be, WXXI is there.
Become a fan of WXXI on Facebook here:

Andrew Wheeland
Director of Interactive Services