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February 29, 2008

The Teleology of Facebook

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm glad to learn that not everyone loves Facebook. I signed up for an account myself, spent a couple of hours exploring the site, and still don't understand what the point of Facebook is. I just don't get it. Can anyone enlighten me?



posted by Michael at February 29, 2008


You should see my sister-in-law use it. She wouldn't be interested in reading something like this blog with architecture or politics. What she has is a "Raelene Central" that's like constantly updated with news about the people she knows. Who's pregnant today, what conversation is raging, here's some pictures from our vacation. It actually looks like fun when you see her do it.

Posted by: Noumenon on February 29, 2008 8:04 AM

It is exclusively for people under 35, and de facto under 30; it's most popular with high school and college students. You use it mostly as an email / text message substitute, either by sending a message to someone or writing on their Wall.

It's next most popular feature is uploading pictures, almost always of what you and your friends did last night.

Rounding it out is the attention-whoring stuff: blabbing about your interests to look cool, putting up "bumper stickers" that show how clever you are, and so on.

But it's mostly to keep in touch with your friends -- by messaging and checking out their pictures.

Posted by: agnostic on February 29, 2008 11:02 AM

I mostly use it for the apps. In fact I wasn't a member before they had the outside apps.

Now I have a one stop place to go where I can:

1. Play Go with my friends without having to bother using one of the outside relay sites or download a client.

2. Quickly look up and store singer and band names I hear in passing on Pandora and to see if I like their other songs and other info about them.

3. Write reviews for books and movies which I can then automatically pass on to friends who have a certain match criteria with me in tastes, as well as recieve their notices.

All in all, with the apps, for myself, at least, Facebook is my onestop social networking hub.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on February 29, 2008 4:22 PM

Hey MB, shift me over to elsewhere, willya? I thought we were paying you to clean up our messes. ;^)

Posted by: ricpic on February 29, 2008 6:38 PM

The key to facebook's appeal: the fact that nothing in it can be googled.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on March 1, 2008 7:58 AM

i got a facebook account just to see if i could sustain it while revealing nothing about my personal life and posting no pics of myself. i will force people to confront their worst fear - a gossipless universe. i will start a revolution in thought!

Posted by: roissy on March 1, 2008 11:54 AM

MySpace— the "ugliest site on the Internet"— is a similar dynamic, if you let it. The only reason I have an account is to keep in touch with people who I'd otherwise lose track of. People try to friend me all the time, and I'll check out their profile— the only ones who get OK'd are bands (because hey, it's not like I care) and people who list interests similar to mine. Anyone who sends a message that has any variant of "I firended you 'cus you're hot" gets immediately blocked.

The upshot is I check the sucker once a month, find out that hey, this one (actual) friend really was the guy in that commercial, this other friend is buying a house, and it's nice to know a little about their lives even though I haven't seen them in years.

So— what is it good for? A little info on the people you went to college with and like to hear about from time to time. They're still alive, doing the sorts of things your mother always tells you your former classmates from grade school are up to, and that's about all. Anything more requires more effort than I want to put online. I'm saving that effort for RL (aka Real Life.)

Posted by: B. Durbin on March 1, 2008 9:17 PM

1) Low-impact way of keeping up with people you don't see every day.

2) Quick dossier on people you've just met: single or in a relationship, etc. (An aside on the Reign of Terror phase of the sexual revolution. Despite widespread promiscuity, relationships become exclusive very early in the process now. If a girl likes to go out for a chocolate malted at the five and dime, there is one and only one guy who will bring her, and woe betide any other gent who offers to carry her books. Outside of a dating relationship, of course, anything goes. If you think that this bizarrely enforces strict monogamy in precisely the area where it is least needed, I congratulate you on your perspicuity.)

Posted by: Zach on March 2, 2008 12:28 AM

The guy who ranted beautifully about Facebook also had a great rant about Myspace, here:

Posted by: Will S. on March 2, 2008 9:27 PM

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