What am I missing?

Is it me, or, unless you’re networking for professional reasons or you really want to get in touch with that chick that blew you off in high school (to remind her that you’re still a dork, apparently) does anyone else find Facebook a supreme waste of time?

Maybe its my insular tendencies and the (to paraphrase from a buddy) clannish ways of my friends. It just seems so easy to start using, and then maddening to use after that (blogging on WordPress or Blogger, by comparison,  is entirely intuitive). Or maybe what I’m saying is, compared to publishing you’re own little-read (read: not read) blog, it seems like you have virtually no control over the presentation. I’m not talking about control over who sees your profile and stuff (yeah, yeah, there’s various privacy settings and whatnot). And no, I’m not talking about whatever 18 pieces of flair you want to add.

No, I mean there is precious few ways to customize your “home page,” such as it is on Facebook. I had more control over (and more ways to customize) Geocities and 20m sites from the late Nineties. I’m not talking anything fancy, either. For God’s sake, I just spent 20 minutes trying to embed a link within the text of a comment (like this) to no avail. The comments wouldn’t read “a href” codes (it would create a hyperlink if you pasted in a Web address, like this: https://theicepickcometh.wordpress.com, but not if you wanted to embed that into a word or phrase, as in the above example). Which makes me think, Facebook merely wants to drive you to more Facebook content, it seems.

Am I missing something rather obvious? (That wouldn’t be the first time.) Or am I just too aged and crotchety for my own good?

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I probably am out of step with my fellow Gen X’ers, who have also flocked to Facebook and related sites as much as any other American from 6 to 66.

I’m not a fan of Readers, RSS feeds, or other applications that “push” content to me. I’d rather go seek it. I sincerely enjoy surfing — knowledge by walking around, to cop (and update) a phrase from, I believe, Jimmy Breslin (who most certainly was not referring to the Internet).

Look, I like being able to easily share photo albums with friends and family, to show off pictures of The Baby (though the image uploading system is clunky and slow, at least for me). But beyond posting links to stories I like on my “wall” — sort of like a way to microblog, without bothering to build a semi-intelligent post around said links —what’s the point? (beyond the aforementioned professional networking opportunities and chance to “catch up” with people you never had an intention of catching up with before. And Christ, don’t get me started on Twitter.)

Of course, it took me two days to try to figure out how your name and photo appears in a person’s friends list — I couldn’t understand that all that appears, apparently, is your photo, name and “networks,”  rather than your hometown (which seemed to be the obvious thing to display to this luddite).

So either I’m slow, or Facebook is just a way to cede some control of your life’s information in order to Socially Network. Is that sort of like Benjamin Franklin’s quote of giving up essential liberty for temporary safety?


I should note that I’m no technophobe. WordPress and this blog, for instance, has given me a platform to write that I never would have had in the newspaper or publishing worlds. (And now I can be read by almost no one. But that’s better, to me, than not writing at all; sure I could write for an audience of me in Microsoft Word, but the excitement (yes, excitement) of blog-publishing  is part of the self-important appeal to this writer’s ego). I should also note that I searched for the Benjamin Franklin and possible Jimmy Breslin quote on Google (damn, where’s my copy of I Want to Thank My Brain for Remembering Me when I need it? When technology can clean and organize my house for me, then I’ll be a true believer.)

UPDATE, 10:19 p.m.: And no, I’m not deleting my Facebook page. I like sharing the photo albums, I like adding to my list of favorite movies, and perhaps I do see some potential, even if that potential is finding a page for 30 Rock so I can become a “fan” (because I guess I’m not a fan now, though don’t ever call The Icepick household between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Thursday nights. Ever.). But right now, I just don’t get the fuss. For stalking and voyeuristic purposes, as another friend put it, sure? Networking? You bet? But what else am I missing?

Now excuse me: I’ve got to grab my homburg and head down to OTB to bet the sixth at Aqueduct.


9 Comments on “What am I missing?”

  1. Laurie says:

    I hate facebook. I only use it to spy on people and to play Wordscraper. Some times I use it to talk about myself or my cats. Also, I like to make fun of my brothers.

    Crap, maybe I do like Facebook. I definitely hate MySpace, though.

  2. Laurie says:

    PS – I took a quiz and it told me I should live in Afrika. I was like, “F–k you, Facebook. You can’t even spell!”

    Then I took another stupid quiz and was told that I’m the Jack Kerouac of writers.

    So forget what I said about Facebook. I’m such a poseur. I’m always over there.

  3. The Icepick says:

    @ Laurie: I updated this post before I saw your comments (call it coming down from 30 Rock euphoria, and yes, Mrs. Icepick knows about my Liz Lemon/Tina Fey crush), but I guess I hate Facebook for its simplicity, if that’s the right word, or maybe I just don’t see any interesting links (I much prefer the links I find on my fellow bloggers’ blogs). And the only quiz I’ve been intrigued by has been the What Kind of Writer Are You? (yeah, a friend has that one too, though I’ve been afraid to take it, fearful that I would come back as Horatio Alger or perhaps Harry Stephen Keeler, without the press).

    That said, I’m not deleting my account either. I just don’t see the fuss (though it does give my sister a chance to rag on me for having only six friends).

    @ anyone else: Oh, and yes, I also know that OTB doesn’t open around here until 11 a.m. or noon (somehow, I feel I ought to know that time for certain).

  4. The Icepick says:

    P.S. — And another thing. I like commenting on blogs that I enjoy reading much more than commenting on dear friend’s Facebook pages (all six of them). Certainly, the anonymity helps on the blogs (though I’ve been lax lately in that department — combination of busy work days, potty training (the baby, not me) and nice weather), but it’s also that I like reading the content and feel I have something to say in response, even if that’s only to say “nice post.”

    But I find that if I want to thoughtfully comment on my friends’ lives, I’ll do it in a private e-mail or a phone call (and while I may offer advice, I’m not one to comment, in the traditional sense, on my friends’ lives), whereas there’s only so many times I can say “true dat” on my friends’ Facebook pages. I suppose that may seem hypocritical, but for my friends who also blog, I find myself commenting there more than I would on their Facebook pages. Maybe it’s a writerly thing (I feel writers should support other writers), and it’s certainly, at the very least, an appreciation, especially if a post made me pause and think.

  5. Jerry says:

    I liked this piece so much I am posting it as a link I like on my Facebook page. Mmmm that’s good irony!

  6. bjorn_skurj says:

    Facebook is OK – it has reunited me in a sense with a lot of people I never thought I would hear from again, some of them I really like and miss. That sending virtual drinks/punk rock singles/social diseases thing got old quick, though.
    One question – are you commuting to OTB?

  7. The Icepick says:

    @ bjorn_skurj: “We had a lot of people commuting to OTB. That part of the county wasn’t being served.” Hands down, the best quote ever. (Second place goes to the advice column in our joint local daily, in the letter from the girl who thought the boy in her class “sortive liked her.”)

    @ Jerry: touché!

  8. pussified says:

    i just joined…and i’m going back and forth with the like and dislike. i like the flair, actually…but i collect funny pins in real life (pussified’s playlist logo pin coming soon! if i get more readers/commenters, maybe.) i’m a word challenge fan too. and, like Laurie, i can leave quick messages for my sisters in college. the instant messaging tool is why i like it the most, but the site in general, meh. i got over the stalking fun when i was on myspace. ugh, myspace.

  9. Anna says:

    Not all internet is a waste, if it was would people really have gone to so much trouble to embellish it? But there are plenty of ways to get yourself lost on the internet even for an expert!

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