This is a rant. Not about the lack of privacy or the company deciding what I want to opt into. This is a rant on the way people use Facebook.
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among my friends to rely on Facebook for the dissemination of important life news. It is a trend that I see beyond my friends, with Australia serving legal notices through the social site. But I am really just concerned with the posting of news from my friends.
I understand that many of my friends spend more time than me on the site, playing games and reading what everyone else has written. I spend most of my time online on other sites. So I’m not disparaging their use of Facebook. That’s cool if they want to play Farmville or take quizzes or post whatever is on their mind.
What bothers me about the use of the status update to spread news is the expectation that I spend that kind of time on Facebook. Which I don’t. I get bored with the service quickly because I can read all the status updates I care too pretty fast. I spend maybe 30 minutes on the site (unless someone catches me in the chat) when I do log in. And I log in maybe once a day. I rely on the “Top News” feature to read the highlights. “Recent Posts” almost always has over 300 and I don’t have time to read all of them.
So when my friends and family post important notices, like their engagement, birth of their child, surgery, I’m always caught off guard. And I begin to assume that either: A.) The news isn’t that important, or B.) I’m not that important to them. Because if either A or B aren’t true, I expect a little more effort to actually let me know of the important news. I’m not even asking for a phone call. An email or even a text would suffice. Something that signals I was sought in the notification of the important news. And I try my best to be easy to catch. I’ve had the same cell number for almost 10 years, and have kept my first email address for almost 15.
Now this rant doesn’t hold to all the Facebook friends. I have a random collection from the MA and work and acquaintances, and their posts that I randomly catch are the reason why I’m friends with them on Facebook. I care enough to keep vague tabs on the major changes in their lives, but I know we aren’t best friends.
This rant is for real life friends. Or anyone who actually wants me to know something. If you post something on Facebook with the expectation that I’ll read it, you should adjust that expectation to include that high probability that I won’t. I might get lucky, or you might post it in one of the few forms I’m notified of, but chances are good that it will get buried forever. And then when I don’t congratulate/commiserate/celebrate/cry with you, it won’t necessarily be because I’m a jerk, but the message probably got lost in the noise.
I get that most people use Facebook in a way I don’t and that this rant makes me sound like a grumpy old person who yells at the neighborhood kids to stay off the lawn. But the heart of my rant is a desire for people to not forget that everyone chooses to interact in a different way. I don’t get Facebook, maybe you don’t get texts. I’m not saying my perspective is right, I’m just stating what my perspective is. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. But even if I am, I don’t care.
Facebook is one of my least favorite venues of internet interaction, and this is one of the many reasons why. It turns people who are important into one of the hundreds of “friends” who seem to be closely connected because of an almost anonymous post. In an age where connecting with the people we love across vast distances is almost obscenely simple, making a small extra effort goes a long way to affirm the relationships that really matter. In the effort of letting the crowds know the important info, sometimes the individual faces get lost.