Debunking The Silly Complaints From People Who Don't Like Social Networks

from the yes,-it-sucks,-get-over-it dept

Cory Doctorow has a fun column over at The Guardian responding to three of the common quips used by people to dismiss social networks, and pointing out why those complaints miss the mark. He responds to the following three:

  • It’s inconsequential — most of the verbiage on Twitter, Facebook and the like is banal blather, by noting that what’s inconsequential to you is most likely not inconsequential to those it’s actually targeted at.
  • It is ugly — MySpace is a graphic designer’s worst nightmare, by noting that this is done for a good reason, which is to make it a place where blatant overly designed marketing can’t take over.
  • It is ephemeral — Facebook will blow over in a year and something else will be along, by noting this is a feature and makes sure that the services adapt or die.

There are, of course, lots of other silly “complaints” but my favorite (and perhaps this is really a subset of the first one) is that “I don’t want to use Twitter because I don’t care what someone is eating for lunch.” And, certainly, at some level I can understand the thinking behind that. And, yet, one of the first times I realized how useful Twitter could be was a couple of years ago, when a random Twitter message about what someone was eating for lunch resulted in a chance to meet up with someone who I’d only known as an occasional email acquaintance — because it passed on a variety of little tidbits of information that we wouldn’t have realized otherwise. Since then, I’ve noticed this quite often. No, I might not care what everyone I follow ate for dinner all the time (not that very many people I know share that info), but quite often these random tidbits of information paint a great picture of someone, which can be useful at other times. And, honestly, if your complaint is that you don’t want to know what someone had for lunch — stop following the people who post what they had for lunch.

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Comments on “Debunking The Silly Complaints From People Who Don't Like Social Networks”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It is an indisputable fact that the quality of communication that occurs in these forums is abysmal. These people may be functioning in an entirely lower intellectual sphere than you. But what you might be missing is that it is a step up for these people; sort of baby’s first chatting online. Baby talk isn’t intelligent, but we all know that it is a crucial first step towards adult communication.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Seriously, the information I get from some social networking contacts can be better than the so-called “journalists” being paid to write.

Hell, I get my favorite Journalists on twitter. For a rabid sports fan, twitter is a god-send. I follow my favorite beat writers and journalists to get updates about transactions, and notices when their stories / blogs are posted.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:


the author’s counter to this is stupid. if you are sending a message to a bunch of people who don’t care (or who would be annoyed by you sending it to them), then you’re using the wrong medium.

and overly designed marketing not taking over myspace? are you [mike] on drugs? who could forget the whole myspace exodus? and that the number 1 cited complaint was that newscorp started spackling really annoying ads all over every person’s page? only for newscorp to later publicly state that google dumped myspace because the users are low value and only get about a 10 cent CPM? mike is a tech tabloid/blogger… he’s supposed to know these things. domain parking and spam link pages better CPM than that.

as for being ephemeral, there’s very strong evidence for that. facebook was massively unprofitable until they started allowing companies like zynga to sell digital items/currency through those free ipod type scams… so long as facebook got kickbacks. virtually every web 2.0 site is still ridiculously unprofitable, and if you take a look at techcrunch’s deadpool, the statistics are against every social network. twitter is barely floating (read: zero profit), and digg is STILL millions in the whole every year, while reddit is conde’s loss leader… and these are just the big guys.

on top of these 3 complaints, you still have MAJOR privacy issues. and let me tell you, there’s only 3 legitimate categories for facebook pages today:
1) you’re in that .000001% who are international celebrities and are MORE likely to get hired for your shenanigans
2) your page looks like you’re running for congress
3) your page looks like it was screened by ABC family / the Disney channel
anything else nowadays is a possibility of missed jobs/clients.

then again, mike always thinks marginal arguments win over majority, so that’s why he gives this guy credence.

Luci says:

I find that the only thing I need to say about them is ‘I don’t like them.’ I don’t need a reason, I just don’t, and that’s fine, because it doesn’t matter if I like something or not to anyone else. Keep using them if you like. I just won’t friend you to my non-existent page, or go read your life’s story. *shrug*

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Try debunking this one – real friends vs virtual friends.”

They are often one an the same. For example, I have family & friends in 12 countries on 4 continents who I keep in touch with via Facebook. I never see them in physical form due to the distances involved. Does this make them “real” or “virtual” by your definition?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Silly complaints are easy to debunk. Try debunking this one – real friends vs virtual friends.

I don’t think that really qualifies as a complaint. There’s nothing there to debunk. Imagine yourself as Facebook customer service, and one of your customers complains that “real friends vs. virtual friends”. Not really anything to go on, but maybe you can flesh it out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hmm, I notice that the retort about most of the communication being meaningless wasn’t disputed, but rather redirected the issue back onto the complainer. The fact remains that the MAJORITY of people on these sites are doing nothing but wasting time with meaningless drivel. And I’ll bet most of the people I’m referring to will have to use a dictionary to see what “drivel” means.

But that aside, I don’t like social networking sites for one main reason, and that is the fact that I don’t feel any desire to put my whole life out on display for the world to see. Unlike most these days, who complain about privacy and then turn around and freely give it away, I value and protect my privacy. I did create a Facebook account to see what all the fuss was about, and after poking around a bit, I wasn’t impressed, and the account has sat dormant since then. If I ever do find a reason to actually use it, you can be sure my account settings will be as locked down as possible. I refuse to make myself available to any and all random people who think they can be my online friend.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

99% of what is written is drivel to 99% of users, but 99% of what is written is not drivel to that 1% of users. Hay, guess what, that’s the entire point. That’s the intent of social media. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean that no one else douse.

Granted, from how you rant, you are one of those people who believe that only their opinion matters and every one else is wrong.

samzzz says:

Re: Re:

i too did a facebook account to know all the crazyness about that. but my profile is getting useless since then… the very reason i dont like social networking is that its all about wastage of time… i prefer to some knowledge based websites(like Wikipedia or howstuffworks or yahoo answers etc.. keep searching things u don’t know rather finding how is ur friends mentality in the Facebook coz in real life u can not understand human mind.. how can u in a virtual world)) rather than busy in these s/n shits.
i hate them just showing off to impress sum1 else(the teenage things).. are u nuts… can u impress a girl by ur facebook account(do some real life thing if u want to impress.. u r just wasting ur valuable time in that s/n rush and loosing urself…

taoareyou (profile) says:

Social Networking

As I think about what kinds of things my friends and I talk about, a large portion of it is really of no interest to anyone except my friends. The things we talk about via social networks are about the same. The people that I’ve met who take such a hard stand against social networks, to the point where they even have to tell people just how much they won’t use them, generally consider themselves very important.

Their elitist attitudes limit the quality of their communication. Because quality on social networks is not about data, but about just hanging out with people you know but can’t always be in the same room drinking a beer together.

Dementia (profile) says:

I avoided facebook for a long time. I just had no desire to utilize it. Recently I did set up an account and, as a result, have “met” a number of people who I otherwise would not have. We have had discussions ranging from the inane all the way through thought provoking discussions about politics and world events. I don’t think its fair to say its all meaningless drivel. While there certainly is a lot of drivel, if you connect with the right people, it can be quite informative and interesting.

Anonymous Coward says:

What a crock of shit

Someone intentionally designed myspace to become a wasteland after 2 years when something else came along? And it’s ugly to prevent marketing? In what universe? Isn’t it comprised primarily OF marketing? Oh, they just don’t want DESIGNED marketing, hideous flashing tiled background marketing is fine…

And no-one ever disputed that the blathering of teenage girls is important to those teenage girls, especially if they think they have an audience. But who would think it’s important to anyone else?

Social networking (and blogs, and pod-anythings, and whatever2.0) is just there for technically illiterate people to feel important.

Tyanna says:

I never got into MySpace. Facebook I only use b/c it’s the only way to reach some of my friends. I’ve looked at Twitter, but decided to draw the line.

Quite frankly, I find it all to be information overload. With all the blogs and news feeds I read along with my once a day look at Facebook I just find that there is too much information and that I honestly don’t need any more.

Maybe that’s just me, but I really just don’t feel like following more people…

BBT says:

“It is ugly — MySpace is a graphic designer’s worst nightmare, by noting that this is done for a good reason, which is to make it a place where blatant overly designed marketing can’t take over. “

Sorry, this “debunking” is ridiculous. Kids make ugly myspace pages because the tools myspace provides are awful and the templates themselves are ugly. Incompetent users then take these abysmally ugly templates and build even more abysmal monstrosities on top of them because they are incompetent at both using computers and design.

It’s not intentional, it’s just incompetence. And if I’m saying “I don’t want to go to myspace because it is heinously ugly and is like stabbing my eyes with rusty forks”, you haven’t really debunked that reason by saying “yeah, but they wanted it to be ugly, so it’s ok!”. Oh! Proceed with stabbing my eyes with forks, then! If it’s intentional, I don’t mind!

Nick says:

A Little Bit

I have an FB account and look at it every few days. I’ve been able to get back in touch with friends that dropped away 35 years ago when I moved across the country. Also half of my family live in the UK, I live in Canada, so it’s a good way to feel a part of their lives. Albeit in a small way I know.

BUT I am really sick of the ‘updates’ with peoples farms. And Fish tanks. And cafes. And Mafia and on and on and on. It seems that so many now just use FB for meaningless time wasting.

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Re: A Little Bit

One of my favourite buttons on Facebook is the “Hide” button. As soon as an application puts anything in my news feed and hit that button and will never see a message from that application ever again.

It means my feed is generally a collection of status updates, photos and links my friends have posted, which generally makes for interesting reading.

RadialSkid says:

Social Networking

I use Twitter, yet I’ll still admit that it’s stupid, pointless, and probably won’t be around for very long.

Its primary functions seem to be a means to keep up with the daily lives of celebrities, and respond to CNN news stories so they’ll say your screen name on-air and make you feel important.

So why do I use it? I’m not sure what made me sign up, but the only thing that keeps me using it is it serves as a makeshift journal that I can use to record the day’s events, knowing no one will ever read it. This may not make a lot of sense, but this works fine for me and I see no reason to change it.

TesserId (profile) says:

Tear Down The Walls

And, what about the silly complaints from those who *do* like social networks?

I have successfully avoided any contact with Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. My excuse is that with so many people, these environments must be overly mainstream. But, I don’t really know this because I haven’t been there.

And, I don’t see any reason to add to what is a fairly busy and fulfilling life outside of those walls. Do I really need to be corralled into a controlled environment? Do I really need to be part of some carrot-on-a-stick social game?

Most of the intelligent arguments (as opposed to the silly ones) about these social environments tells me that I really don’t need to waste my time with such things.

Alan Scrivener says:

trivial communications

Henry David Thoreau said: “We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.” And we all know how right he was, that trans-Atlantic communication turned out to be a total waste of resources (except for a few political, military, cultural, economic and meteorological applications).

Anonymous Coward says:

your conclusion to debunking complaints about social network sites is “stop following the people who post what they had for lunch.” our complaint was “we dont use it becuase we dont want to know what someone ate for lunch” … we are already not using it, so somehow your debunking conclusion results in the same actions we started with. kind of a waist of time.

BD (user link) says:

The privacy thing is a big issue for those of us in countries with limited human rights

After all the hype I’ve tried both Twitter and Facebook. The result I found is that it DOES compromise privacy in unexpected ways. This is an issue for me, and others… Here’s why: On the one level I don’t care what anyone knows about me–I’m happy to be an open book–except for the negative impact it could have. To make a long story short, I’m gay and live in a country where that is illegal. The result of being known to be gay could mean losing a job, a livelihood, residency and even getting arrested, imprisoned and, although unlikely, a death penalty.

Now it is damn hard to live a secret and the Net gives one a chance to be themselves to some extent. I NEED to be able to be gay online to some extent, but I also need to be able to control or restrict that to some extent. What Twitter, Facebook and the like do is put your stuff out there in ways you could never imagine. Admittedly search engines do that too, so if you’ve got stuff out there it is going to be stumbled upon. But these networking sites up the ante BIG TIME.

The result: Facebook, Twitter, et. al. make me very uncomfortable. Great tools if they don’t risk getting you imprisoned for just being who you are.

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