14
Oct
08

Facewhiners

Watch closely, because this weekend, something terrifically insignificant is going to happen.

If you’re currently breathing, I probably don’t have to tell you what Facebook is.  And if you’re in between the ages of twelve and thirty, I probably don’t have to tell you that recently, the management at Facebook made some changes to their site, and it pissed some folks off.  Royally.  A number of people are downright livid about the changes that have been made, and this weekend, they’re doing something about it.

According to this article, as well as the Facebook group “1,000,000 Against the New Facebook Layout,” a weekend-long boycott will be taking place from the 17th to the 20th of this month among those who most passionately despise this new layout.

If you’re not currently a member of Facebook, you’re probably wondering what could possibly cause such an uproar.  What is it that the Facebook people did?  Litter their site with racial slurs?  Replace everyone’s profile picture with this?

Hardly.  They moved some stuff around.  They reorganized.  It’s the equivalent of signing the site up for an episode of Trading Spaces.  It looks different, and maybe it’s not what you would’ve chosen, but once you get over the initial impact of the change, it’s still the same thing, and it’s completely tolerable.  It’s certainly not harsh enough to illicit the kind of response of the impassioned millions who joined the Facebook groups in protest of the change.  And there are dozens of those groups that have been formed with the express intention of protesting this minor modification.  The largest of those groups has nearly 2.8 million members.  That’s two-point-eight million.  For some perspective, 2.8 million people is nearly the population of the entire city of Chicago.

So this must mean that with all those people boycotting, Facebook is going to lose millions in ad revenue this weekend, right?  Is this the end of Facebook as we know it?

Again, hardly.  As of this posting, even though all of those 2.8 million members were invited to join the weekend boycott, only 2,513 of them have agreed to abstain the three days.  With Facebook membership at over 100 million worldwide, that’s two-thousandths of a percent (0.002%) of the entire Facebook community that’s participating in the holdout, hoping their defiance will inspire the bigwigs to finally hear their demands.  It’s like Newsies, but with less choreography, and far less people.

So if you’re one of those who longs for Facebook to return to its old ways, well… tough break.  You lose.  And honestly, what are you complaining about?  The miniscule amount of people participating in this supposedly headline-worthy boycott just goes to show that it’s not that big of a deal in the first place.  Now it takes three clicks instead of two to SuperPoke your cousin in Nebraska.  Tough shit.  We’re in the middle of perhaps the most important decade in American history, and what really gets our attention is an imaginary computer realm of fake versions of ourselves?

Do you know what people are talking about in these Facebook groups?  Each one has its own discussion board, and here’s a couple sample subject lines from those discussion boards:

“Why new Facebook is a copout”

“When will you leave Facebook, and where will you go?”

“This weird new facebook is ruining my life!!!”

Simply unbelievable.  You know what people aren’t talking about in these Facebook groups?  ANYTHING THAT ACTUALLY MATTERS. Also, isn’t it interesting that despite the fact that these people supposedly hate this new Facebook, they’re still using it to communicate their hatred? It’s like someone skywriting messages about how bad it is to waste airplane fuel.  If Facebook is so awful, then do what you did back in 2004:

Live without it.

But there’s no way that’s going to happen, and I’ll tell you why.  Those people probably couldn’t admit it, but what Facebook allows them is the ability to portray a version of themselves that is vastly more intriguing than the real thing.  Someone who isn’t willing to drop their Facebook or MySpace account at any moment’s notice is essentially saying that without the help of those sites, they don’t consider themselves very interesting.  Facebook allows us to define ourselves not by the person that we are, but rather by everything but— on Facebook, we define ourselves by photographs, by the friends we have and what they say to us, by our favorite music and movies, or by the number of fiery dinosaur flowers we have growing in our magic wizard garden.  In truth, who we are is the person left when all of that is stripped away, and if you’re afraid of stripping away all that fluff, perhaps what you’re really afraid of is what might be left when you do.

I’m not saying Facebook is completely useless for the average person.  I personally have a Facebook account, and while I’ve never joined anyone’s Oregon Trail bandwagon, or picked sides in the epic battle of Pirates vs. Ninjas, I’m still an active member of the community, if you can call it a community.  But the reason I have a Facebook account has nothing to do with the person that I am.  For me, Facebook is a number of things conveniently assembled in one place— a social calendar, an address book, a photo album, a birthday reminder, and an easy way to keep in touch with friends all across the world.  But the point is that you can have all these things outside of Facebook, Facebook just puts them in one location, and that’s why I’m a member.  Should I wake up tomorrow morning to find Facebook and other social network sites obliterated from the face of the earth, the only things I would no longer have access to are that façade Facebook creates for me, and the ability to be a member of the unwilling paparazzi within my own social circle, and those are two things I can most certainly live without.

In all reality, your opinion of Facebook is likely similar to mine, and you’d have no problem leaving it, either.  The people I’m talking about, those who say they can’t live without this alternate reality, are a significant minority.  In thirty years, we’re not going to be a nation of people sitting on couches, living life through Facebook profiles.  There might be a few people like that, and there certainly will be more of them in five years than there were five years ago, but it’s no threat to our culture or livelihood.  Heck, today there’s only 2,513 of them, and they’re easy enough to ignore.  Just ask the people in charge of Facebook.

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1 Response to “Facewhiners”



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