Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Dear Facebook ...

It strikes me that as far as making friends via social networks goes today, you may be in need of some updating.

Since the movie of your life came out even those of us who previously didn't care a jot about these things now know that you started out on your road to world domination as a rather more modest method for college students and other clique-prone sorts to keep tabs on their peeps, and hence users in those days tended to 'friend' people they were already personally acquainted with. But that was then and this is now. And what you need to know now, FB, is that the 500 million users of which you boast ( by the way, congrats on achieving that world domination ) have evolved their usage way beyond simply keeping tabs on their classmates' love lives. The activity of social networking is now conducted on a global scale, with many people who are otherwise unknown to each other daily interacting via cyberspace. And that, all told, is a good thing, knowledge being power and all that.

I want you to think a moment about a statistic, FB. The average number of people that the average person can know on a personal level is 150 ( 'personal' here meaning someone with whom you interact regularly in meat-space and whose birthday you can remember without a prompt down the side of the page ) and interestingly enough it continues to be 150 despite global social networking. However, the same average person has many, many more 'friends' than 150 in cyber-space. You, FB, allow your users to have 5000 such 'friends', and yet you expect them to know these 5000 personally. You cannot be serious? In fact, given that you have 500 million users, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that this limit is on the miserly side. A word, too, about your 'friending warnings'. They beggar belief. Let's just think for a moment, FB, that a good deal of these friendings will have been made at suggestions you have put forward to users. Bit of an own goal there, eh?

" People may feel harrassed, threatened, or otherwise unsafe" you self-righteously pronounce on behalf of your entire 500 million users, at being subjected to something as ungodly petrifying as a friend request made in cyber-space.

Well, gee willickers, FB, I wonder how the human race has survived thousands of years of social interaction, made on a daily basis, with strangers, face-to-face, without you being around to police it for us? We have the option to 'unfriend' and even to block persons we do not desire to have in our cyber-lives, that's safe enough for most of us. We don't need the extra nannying from you, FB. Chill out.

Face it, FB. It's time to get with the modern social networking program, to realize what it means to be the global phenomenon that you are, and to try considering that your closest rivals, Twitter and MySpace, don't limit the amount of friends or followers a user can have, and guess what? The world hasn't ended because of it.

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