Posted September 23, 2011 8:32 am by with 12 comments

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Facebook has a very unique place in the psyche of the Internet consumer. There is this oddly intense love / hate relationship that almost always ends in submission by the user, acceptance of whatever changes have come down the pike and even the eventual forgetting what the complaining was about in the first place.

Honestly, it’s a bit annoying. Facebook users are starting to sound very much like Google haters. They recognize the importance of the platform and services as they relate to what they do in their lives but seem to want to see the mighty fall in process. I often wonder what would happen if so many Facebook haters got their wish and the service just got up and went away. That would be an interesting day because I suspect not too many of them would be genuinely happy.

I could care less personally about all the clamoring over the latest changes to Facebook. From a pure marketing perspective these changes should be quite useful. How useful (and how difficult to take advantage of) remains to be seen. Oh, if you want to go to the “I have this all figured out within 24 hours of the biggest change in Facebook history crowd” place, go right ahead. It’s a waste of time and a borderline stupid activity though because there is too much yet to know and see to have any real concept as to how these changes will play out in reality.

So rather than sit around and try to predict the future I would like to look at just a few of the reasons why we get so angry with Facebook then just as quickly settle back in with it like any highly dysfunctional relationship. Here are a few ideas I have. Feel free to like or dislike :-).

Mark Zuckerberg is not very likable – While this seems harsh it’s just the truth. While some say he has come a long way in how he presents in public, yesterday’s event harkened back to the flop sweat days of not so long ago. His obvious attempts to emulate Steve Jobs (and very unsuccessfully I might add) are uncomfortable to watch and almost comical. One piece of fashion advice to Mark (and I should NOT be giving anyone this kind of advice but I can’t help it here): If you need to wear a “uniform” make the change to a dark blue shirt so we don’t have to sit and wonder when the sweat will begin to soak through your gray one. It’s a weird game that we are forced to play as you uncomfortably laugh at things that no one else does etc.

Zuckerberg’s public persona is a stumbling block to Facebook’s likability for sure but guess what? He ain’t going away so get used to it and in the end it’s not hurting Facebook’s march toward whatever it is they want.

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Facebook’s level of integration into one’s life bothers many people – The people who complain the loudest when Facebook makes these changes are the ones that have the realization at that moment that Facebook is probably almost TOO important to them. For many (except the much younger set who have literally grown up with this idea of being “friends” is normal) it’s hard to realize that many of your “relationships” are virtual and thus quite limited. This creates a deep seeded frustration that is allowed to come out when someone upsets the Facebook apple cart.

People love to rage against the machine – Facebook has become this huge system that people are assimilated into and there is a natural resistance to a threat to one’s own individuality especially under the guise of it being a place where you can be yourself! How people react to Facebook is becoming very much like how they react to the government. While that may sound bad for Facebook it’s actually good. You see people rage against the government but realize that, in the end, they can little about it other than cast one vote at a time. They complain but they capitulate.

With Facebook it’s the same thing. But a big difference is that powerlessness people feel over something that has a serious level of control on their life can’t even be lessened a bit through some action like having a vote or a voice. Facebook doesn’t really allow for that. That is unless of course you are aware of the 7,000 comment rule at Facebook regarding policy changes (if that even still exists).

When there is little competition there is much more angst – Sure Google+ is tring to ding Facebook’s social media supremacy but let’s face it – it will take A LOT of work and a few minor miracles for the masses to move to Google+. Right now, Google+ is looking like more of a safe haven for the tech cool kids than a real threat to Facebook as a whole. Even when people like Tom Anderson try to put a positive spin on this for Google+ it seems like this is a hill that may not be able to be climbed by anyone. As a result, people feel trapped with Facebook and when people get trapped they complain.

People want this to matter more than it does – I have to chuckle at the almost zealot like response that Facebook changes tend to elicit. The fact is that people are probably placing way too much importance on all of this social networking. People are constantly on a quest for a genuinely important life and the recognition that they are important. That’s hard to find but it now can be much more easily manufactured through things like number of friends and the impression that one is much more popular than they really are. Facebook serves as a way to feel like more people care about each other so when that system is changed or messed with even a bit it really is messing with the life that people have created (but not necessarily lived). This will get people ticked for sure. I still love this commercial as a statement on what is being defined as living these days.

People just want to feel like they matter – By voicing an opinion loudly over something as popular as Facebook people get the feeling that they are important. It’s a misplaced feeling but it is real to them so that’s why they do it.

In the end this love / hate relationship with Facebook is simply a statement about life in the world today. It’s a very busy and loud place where we stress the individual but give that individual few places to be heard and really shine. An artificial environment like Facebook allows for the illusion of importance for many so they naturally tie a bit of their self worth to it. As a result there is passion for the platform because it’s one of the few ways that people feel they can be heard. When they suddenly can’t be heard on their own terms and are forced to change how they are heard based on Facebook’s idea for society, they get upset.

What Facebook knows though (and is banking on) is that Facebook users will get over it and, thus far, that has been true every single time.

Any thoughts on this one?

  • I think people rail against Facebook changes because they don’t like a person like Mark Zuckerberg telling them the truth about themselves. Facebook taps our desire to overshare. People don’t want to admit it…they want to somehow seem above it, but at the end of the day we’re addicted to each other and FB capitalizes on it.

  • Amy

    You’re absolutely right. People love to just raise hell over this kind of stuff, but the truth of the matter is there are too many people in the world that rely on Facebook to document their life and no other social network is coming close to replacing that right now. Google Plus is amazing. I’m a fan. But it’s not yet a comfort zone for the normal social networking user… only the nerds that live their work and their life online. (I’m one of those nerds.)

    So everyone is going be upset about the layout when it officially changes and then they will learn how to use it and get over it because we all have to have it. I’m actually more excited about the site then I have been for 6 months. Timeline is the one thing (aside from being able to edit your status updates) that they really needed because so many people live their entire life on that site and weren’t able to easily go back and live it. They pretty much nailed it this time.

  • Kristine s

    This is why it is important and not this is not supposition.. Google and Facebook are providers of this system.. when it is installed

    Also the data mining of 800 million people’s sharing habits.. viewing, listening, watching, reading and interacting habits SHOULD be scrutinized.. Facebook does not vett apps or the people that make them, yet the whole new system is made to rely on them.. WHERE IS THAT DATA going?

    To act so blase and non-chalant is to be almost cavalier .. This is not simply a change to look and feel. This is an attempt to track you and your interactions at a much deeper level than every before.. sponsored by the Federal Govt and implemented by private companies.. the invisible hand of technology allows them to get away w the violations, but they will in the end hurt them

  • “people feel trapped with Facebook and when people get trapped they complain.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. People want to at least feel like they have options, even if they aren’t going to take advantage of them. I think most users are heavily invested in Facebook and won’t stop using it any time soon, but most of us want to be able to threaten to walk away and have that actually mean something.

  • Anon

    Facebook: The new AOL of the internet.

  • Cynthia Boris

    I love that Toyota commercial. When my husband saw it he thought it was a commercial for Facebook but kept saying, there’s something not right about this. . .

    Zuckerberg is an interesting guy. More than any of the other CEO’s he’d become a celebrity and I don’t think that works in his favor. Look at how people hate Donald Trump. I wanted to like him in his presentation at F8 yesterday, but more often than not I felt uncomfortable when he tried to crack jokes. It was like hanging with the class nerds in high school.

    Mostly, I think people hate it because it’s become so consuming. I am one of those people who use it sparingly and mostly for marketing purposes. I haven’t ever found the “fun” in Facebook but that could change with this new incarnation.

  • I won’t stop using.. I think most users are heavily invested in Facebook too 🙂

  • Tiffany

    I hate FB simply because of the black hole it is. You hope something good will come of it, but in the end I just feel dirty and confused as to what the hell just happened. While I do think this post is an interesting perspective on it all, I don’t think it really relates to why some of us have begun to hate the site. The most recent changes, while yes, there are SO many to even begin to pretend you understand, much less know them all is, well, just ludicrous. But I digress…. I have re-developed the hate due to a few, but quite frustrating aspects of the site: FB shoving itself down my throat. I began to only use my Iphone to use FB. Mainly b/c it’s efficient and none of the BS of PC use. They can’t fit all the ridiculous ‘suggestions’ which I see as forced marketing really on the phone. Well, they USED to not fit. Then I began to have a good chunk of my page filled with ‘friends I may know’, but don’t and don’t care to know them. But FB doesn’t care that Iphone users are annoyed and don’t want it, the only concern is marketing. And then they change more….

    Then began the most recent update: Now FB automatically posting every post every person in your friends list has ever made on any wall….resulting in our friends sending out the same generic post: Please select my profile and right click, then remove the check for “see all posts made” (or something). REALLY?!? why should we have to do that and if I don’t tell my ‘bff’s’ to do that, they will now see anything I post. Which isn’t a huge deal, but shouldn’t I the user be able to change that setting?? Guessing not, as everyone I know has sent the request to uncheck that box. Then today, I had 20+ notifications from FB, (I’ve turned off ALL notifications as I’ve made the choice to no longer use FB conventionally), from a group/ conversation I didn’t join, but again it’s FB’s feable attempt at drawing me in…. yeah that just pissed me off.

    So, in the end, FB’s ‘improvements’ are missing the mark, while many may seem awesome,here’s just too much that aren’t, I just see it ALL as more attempts at keeping the attention of a floundering audience. And YES I am on the web daily and use many sites to make life easier and more enjoyable, including inspiration for my art (like traveling to a famous gallery without the plane fair). But in the end, FB isn’t adding quality experience to my life, but rather an artificial experience of humanity. Haha, really it may just go the way of MySpace. We’ll see….. (Oh and No I don’t think Google+ is the best alternative at the moment. Love Google, not G+ so much).

  • Carole

    Facebook is getting on my last nerve. I HATE THE NEWS FEED NOW! All I see are people saying they also hate it! OLD stories are on top and I have to search for new ones. Have I mentioned how much I hate the changes? They are NOT an improvement and I also Hate the loss of privacy now. When a friend post on THEIR friends wall it now shows up on my news feed, that is NOT right. Now when I post somewhere ALL my friends see it, it has made me STOP posting, it is NOT the business of others to see every move I make!
    Facebook should ALLOW us to decide which format we want! They are NOT improving it, its making people angry! I WISH SOMEONE WOULD MAKE A SITE LIKE FACEBOOK AND NOT MESS IT LIKE THEY DID WITH MYSPACE AND FACEBOOK.

  • Jimmy Carl Black

    I know very few people who admit to actually liking Facebook, yet no one is willing to shut his or her account down and try to live without it. Have you ever tried? Yes, it’s addictive. Yes, it seems like everyone you know is on there. Try this: sit down and make a list of actual benefits you get out of Facebook. I bet you the list is hard to make and smaller than you thought. Next, think about how much time you spend on Facebook. Now, make a list of better things you could do with that time. Read a book. Take a walk. Talk to a real person. Play a game. Hell, even watch a TV show you’ve never seen before.

    I was addicted to Facebook. I always had it open in a tab on my browser whenever I was online, even at work. Even on a slow day, I spent at least an hour actively engaged in Facebook. I was up to nearly one thousand “friends.” One day, I made the decision to quit. It had gotten on my last nerve, and I deleted all my information and deactivated my account. It’s been two years and I haven’t gone back. And, you know what? There has not been one day that I have missed it. It was weird for the first few days. I still have a hard time explaining to people why I’m not “on” Facebook without sounding like a self-righteous prick. But, I don’t miss it.

    I challenge anyone who is even slightly fed-up with Facebook to deactivate your profile for one week. Don’t worry, Facebook saves your stuff forever, so unless you manually delete it, it will all still be there if you want to re-activate. But, try it. I have never been more confident of anything in my life that almost anyone who reads this and takes up the challenge won’t miss it in the end. It’s like heroin: you can’t imagine your life without it when you’re addicted, and once you kick the habit, you can’t remember what you ever saw in it. Try it. Shut your Facebook!

    • Andrea

      You’re soo right, I will shut my flippin facebook

  • Andrea

    I just hate when my friends ask me why I’m never on Facebook, I mean for them it’s like the ONLY thing that matters in their lives. And when I say I just don’t find Facebook important or interesting and I just sign in to see my inbox they all are like “REALLY? AND WHAT DO YOU DO ON THE COMPUTER THEN, IF YOU’RE NOT ON FACEBOOK? YOU DON’T HAVE SOCIAL LIFE…”
    Jesus christ, the fuck is with the stupid Facebook! Facebook for people should be like hotmail or something else, and not what controls their lives! Most teens are like that, but I hope it will vanish with the years… that’s the main reason why I hate Facebook. I can’t stand it anymore!!!