Un-Friendly: The Impersonalization of the Facebook Experience


I’m not all that averse to change.  Heck, I just went all-Apple, and am completely happy with it.   But I really don’t like the new Facebook layout, and here’s why.

One, it took something that felt very personal and intimate, and turned it into a chaotic mess.  I use Facebook to interact with people in a more direct, personal way.  I have family, high school friends, college friends, grad school friends, neighborhood friends, tech friends and musician friends.  But unlike other online spaces, I only “Friend” people on Facebook if I have (or, in rare cases, want to develop) some meaningful connection to them.  As a result, Facebook has- until now- been like a cyber-kitchen table for me.  A place to go to relax, and see what my friends are up to.  Just the other night, I discovered one of my old roommates on Facebook, and we reconnected.  It was awesome.

But suddenly Facebook looks like a series of in-my-face billboards where people are tossing random stuff at me.  I want a chill conversation.  I am getting a flood of promotion- self and otherwise.

I don’t want a scrolling window/ticker where people “Liking” some link or complaining about this or that roll by.  It ends up being a cornucopia of banality, courtesy of the subset of folks who, to be blunt, need to use Facebook a little less.

Two, I detest the new emphasis on Subscribing.  I’m not going to subscribe to anyone at Facebook.  If I don’t want to “Friend” you- or you me- then I don’t want to see you on Facebook.  The suggested list of people to subscribe to just clutters up my screen and stresses out my mind.

I’ve been watching with mild curiosity as a couple of uber-marketers and over-thinkers discuss with themselves (literally)  how to turn their “Friends” into “Subscribers.”  In other words, to go from a kitchen chair to a pulpit.  It’s turning the Facebook experience into a frenzy, as people try to figure out how to get some imagined advantage under the new structure.

My “Friend”  (Facebook and otherwise) Robert Scoble was atither the other night about how Facebook is going to win the social war by appropriating the personal and emotional forces that motivate people.  With all due respect, there is nothing personal about this new Facebook layout.  And the only emotions it invokes in me are irritation and sadness.

We already have laundered spam, in the form of Twitter.  I frickin’ hate Twitter, precisely because it is a completely impersonal platform (brilliantly) designed to allow spam to be legitimized and served to millions who have somehow been convinced that it is good.  I really don’t want Facebook to end up like that.

It reeks of a traffic play, at the expense of the user experience.

I want my kitchen table back.

2 thoughts on “Un-Friendly: The Impersonalization of the Facebook Experience

  1. Nah, you’re generally a pretty interesting cat.  You’re just getting lost on my Facebook page amid a bunch of screen clutter.  Reminds me of the TV screen in Idiocracy.

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