Facebook is useless

20100822_farcebook
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Recently, I attended a dinner gathering of my primary school friends. It was a blast, to be able to catch up with one another after so many years. And information about that dinner event was passed down to all of us via Facebook, the reigning social networking website. And that’s the only way that Facebook should be used, as a social networking device, and that’s it. But instead, for many, Facebook has literally taken over as the way of life, something unnatural and artificial, insidiously supplanting all the interactions that one needs when living in the real world.
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Perhaps a brief description of the functions of Facebook is in order. With a Facebook account, Facebook users can make connections with their other friends who have also signed up with Facebook. It is even possible to use Facebook to search for and make contact with long-lost friends, people whom you have lost touch with for years ever since primary, secondary schools, or even junior college and university. It has even become quite a fad amongst Facebook fans to link up with as many friends as possible, with their list of friends going into the hundreds or even thousands, blindly sending their invites to all of their friends’ friends without actually personally knowing who they are.
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Facebook users can post comments or share in discussions with their friends on the News Feed, you can just post whatever that’s on your mind there, for all of your friends to read and comment. Other features of Facebook includes photo hosting, and the many games available for playing such as Farmville, and Mafia Wars. Apparently there’s an automatic feature which reports onto the News Feed your progress during these games, your entire circle of friends can learn about your progress in farming your village, decorating your aquarium, or cleaning up the mob.
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If all of the above suits your way of life, please do carry on. But I for one can already see all the shortcomings that Facebook so blatantly presents. Well, for one thing, I am skeptical about the whole “Facebook helps you make friends” business. You call those on your friends list your friends? Do you even meet them? Go out with them on a regular basis, have a drink and chat with them, find out more about them? NO? And you just do it all just on Facebook? AND you call them your friends? Seriously, with over a hundred names on your list I would think that apart from a couple of geniune friends, you keep that name on the list only as a means of contact. And that’s what I mean by social networking tool, such as when a gathering event is organised, the information gets deseminated down to the necessary people, just as Facebook was designed to do.
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And of course, nothing more need to be said about the dangers of blindly inviting friends on Facebook. Perhaps, after an actual introduction, perhaps at a gathering of friends, then you would know who is that person who had sent you a friend invite. If not, these invites are no different from spam from someone who simply just wants to increase the number of friends on her list, just like when I received an invite from a friend of my colleague’s wife, someone who I had never heard of before, whom I see no further need in friending her any longer, especially since she always seemed to be posting onto the News Feed boring exploits of her green eco-trips to the countryside. For another example, in a previous rant I made mention of my friend Issac and his wife Laura, who would rather that I try getting making contact with my JC idol through Facebook, instead of them having to go through the trouble of setting up an actual face-to-face introductory meeting between me and her. Naturally, for someone who doesn’t even know who I am, the Facebook invite from me gets ignored. I suppose Laura never realised that Facebook can never serve as a medium for real friendships.
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And I can’t use Facebook as a blog. The News Feed was never designed for the posting of paragraphs for display. And any topics or comments posted onto the News Feed will simply be pushed down by the latest postings or games playing progress. The nearest thing that comes to blogging would be if I made a post with a link to my blog on News Feed, which would quickly be pushed down into obscurity by some one-liner comment, or by those incessant games progress. There must be some serious need to tell ALL your friends that you had just found some mushrooms or eggs on your farm, or if you request for additional help in taking out some mafia lord or dictator. Woe to those who have hundreds of friends on their list, and even bother to read every one of their postings, surely they must all come in a torrent.
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The old schoolmates reunion that I attended was possible only because of Facebook’s networking ability that allowed me to contact an old primary school friend who was organising the reunion. It was after the dinner that I thought it may be a good idea to use Facebook to search for and contact another old JC friend. The last I heard was that my friend was helping out a singer-friend sell chocolate cakes in Taiwan. I sent out an invite, asking if my friend remembered me. Not too long after, I can see that my invite had been ignored, which is pretty obvious when you don’t even see the photo of your friend with that “awaiting friend confirmation” tag on your list. So I sent another invite, reminding that we were JC friends, in the same ECA too. That lingered around for a week before it too became ignored. Neh, despite having over 400 friends, my friend simply couldn’t add one more of me to her list. Funny, I thought that it was her idea that we should keep in contact. I wonder why was she even doing on Facebook anyway.
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Facebook should only serve its function as an online networking device, and when it connects me with my friends either old or new alike, it is indeed very useful. But no one should ever obsess over reading the latest News Feed, or spend hours to play the online Facebook games. These things are virtual and inconsequential, and they take you away from the real world, going against the very purpose of improving upon friendships that Facebook was meant to do. But in the meantime, until the next internet fad takes over from Facebook, I expect to see people continue tapping their lives away on their iPhone Facebook apps.
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And don’t even get me started on the iPhone. (Btw, I don’t have one.)
:)
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