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Facebook: Why use it? Why not? etc.

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I'm kind of shocked that whether or not people use or don't use Facebook would evoke such emotion on here. I've been in Abortion threads that were nicer than this.

I think it might be something similar to people that put alot of time and energy in hateing Justing Beiber, Lady Gaga and such. They don't want to be "mainstream"...

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Yeah they also made a website, and started sending out e-mails. (This was back in '09.) So now it's a two pronged approach. But the point was... another person casually assuming that anyone that mattered had a facebook account.

I'm not sure about what percentage of these people "matter", but according to Wikipedia, as of January 2011 Facebook had 600 million active users. That's quite a lot of people and I think that was more in line with what Jaskn was trying to get across.

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I think it might be something similar to people that put alot of time and energy in hateing Justing Beiber, Lady Gaga and such. They don't want to be "mainstream"...

But I can understand hating Justin Beiber... tongue.gif

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I'm kind of shocked that whether or not people use or don't use Facebook would evoke such emotion on here.

I'm hardly shocked. Facebook has had a profound impact on society in general, so I would expect people to develop strong opinions about whether that impact is good or bad. It's certainly nothing negligible. I would argue that innovations in communications mediums, like the telephone, have an even stronger impact on society than innovations of productivity, like the personal computer. My biggest concern and annoyance is what I see to be leading towards decreased literacy, decreased capacity to think with chains of logic, and a lack of discrimination of what degree of value some friends are to you.

Edited by Eiuol

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My biggest concern and annoyance is what I see to be leading towards decreased literacy

I dnt sea tht atall! But seriously I think that kind of talk is just for facebook, msn etc.

...decreased capacity to think with chains of logic...

Could you explain?

...and a lack of discrimination of what degree of value some friends are to you.

"Friend" is just a label for contacts on facebook.

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... another person casually assuming that anyone that mattered had a facebook account.

Please stop saying this. I already flat out said that what you thought I meant, I didn't. Again, my meaning was that there are more people than not on facebook, that it's great for many reasons, and that you personally don't really know what you're talking about since you don't use it (I guess). Your reasons against it were lame.

Concerning the digression away from literacy, that is something which would likely have happened either way, and facebook/twitter are just giving people the means to do what they would have anyway: think less.

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Could you explain?

I thought my larger post on page 1 answered that sufficiently. It is a medium used as a main/big method of communication for people, and that medium does not usually involve much more than several sentences. I suppose you could at times use it for lengthier discussions, but that is far from the norm and is not something promoted. The reason being is that blogs or forums or podcasts are much better for that end. Facebook gets people in the habit of thinking on simpler terms.

Concerning the digression away from literacy, that is something which would likely have happened either way, and facebook/twitter are just giving people the means to do what they would have anyway: think less.

No, it's not something that would have happened anyway. Facebook makes things worse. There is unfortunately nothing counteracting that. Your reasoning here sounds like "since many people don't think much anyway, it doesn't matter much if Facebook is or is not one cause of that."

Edited by Eiuol

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Facebook makes things worse.

I don't see how FB makes anything worse than any other form of informal communication.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Facebook combines these functions:

1. contact list

2. email / instant message

3. message board

4. photo album / yearbook / alumni

5. quick resume / biography

and adds this element:

6. sharing

consequences of the above are:

7. convenience of having all of the above in one place

8. connecting with people from your past because many people are joining

Functions 1-5 are not unique to Facebook.

Function 6 is probably the biggest source of disagreement because it ventures into these territories:

a ) individual vs. collective

b ) privacy vs. transparency

Facebook has no value for me, not even convenience mentioned in 7 due to the following. I have 1 and 2 already together in one place. I greatly prefer ACTUAL message boards because they allow more in depth discussions so 3 isn't a perk to me. I don't want 4 because I find tons of photos of somebody all over annoying and prefer the lack of images when talking online and don't post my own photos online. As for 5 and 6, like Eiuol, I'd find that friends should know the basics about me already and I'd like to target who I inform about what in a much more targeted fashion as fits each person's relation to me. As for 8, if I actually care about somebody, we don't just "lose contact", we only stop talking because one or the other or both of us does not wish to hear from each other anymore. If we're not in contact anymore, it's because somebody is keeping it that way intentionally. I don't want to get bugged by people I'm avoiding.

The privacy thing is a big deal to me. Aside from the glitches and whatnot and very much pain in the ass hassle of managing the privacy settings, it doesn't offer nearly enough personalized access for treating each person to different info as suits our relation. I don't want, say, my really Christiany friend seeing me making constant zombie Jesus jokes, she'd probably feel harassed, but nor would I be pleased if Facebook were THE way I had to communicate with my friends and now I couldn't tell those jokes to my other atheist friends.

As for the individual/collective thing . . . I was thinking about this the other night and the thing that kept coming to mind for me was that people using Facebook . . . it almost seems like they treat themselves as a show. A show where they have to compress themselves into soundbites and still frames and hyperlinks at that. It gives me an impression of taking a person and then reducing and depersonalizing them, putting them up as displays for the crowd. The sheer pressure from so many people to get others to join disturbs me further. It's like many people seem almost offended if you don't join and strangely, often they act like you're so important to contact, therefore you must get a Facebook account so they can contact you, yet at the same time, you're not worth a phone call or an e-mail even. It's so shallow, simplified, and generalized that it seems almost degrading to me.

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another minor function:

-- targeted advertising.

not a big deal to me, but for the sake of completeness it should not be overlooked.

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Ah yes, a billion flies can't be wrong... I think Facebook is childish nonsense for teenagers. Sometimes I get an invitation to become a facebook "friend", which I find quite annoying, I'll choose my friends myself, and I don't want to share pictures and other personal data with people on the Internet, only with a few good friends, and I don't need Facebook for that. For me privacy is quite important, and despite all the pooh-poohing and so-called safeguards you give up every privacy on Facebook.

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Ah yes, a billion flies can't be wrong.

?? I haven't seen a fly yet on FB. Not even picture of a fly yet, though there is bound to be one.

I'm confused at the point you are trying to make here... are you saying that FB isn't useful to anyone or just not to you? Are you saying that all 600+ million users are wrong, that FB isn't useful to them any of them other than for childish antics?

I'll choose my friends myself

I've used FB for a while now and it has never chosen a friend for me, I've always chosen my friends myself too.

I see this whole dislike of FB thing as not liking hammers over screwdrivers. It's a tool, there are other tools, and you can choose to use the tools that are most effective for you needs. If FB isn't the tool for you, great, but for other folks it is the best tool for their needs. But disliking the tool because it doesn't fit your needs just doesn't make much sense to me.

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I don't see how FB makes anything worse than any other form of informal communication.

Let's consider other forms of informal communication, then. I can think of telephone, email, and instant messaging. I do not think those things have the same impact because they aren't as specific as Facebook. Email could have an impact of dumbing down, but it's also so general that messages can be all sorts of lengths, and entirely depending upon the user. Instant messaging may be a plausible "dumbing down" technology actually, considering it isn't about planned out responses like email or including tone of voice like telephone. To some extent, it gets people to drop grammar and spelling, for the sake of speed. I actually forcibly made myself type grammatically, in order to avoid habits of simplifying thought excessively. Complete thoughts only. Punctuation, too.

Social networking sites like Facebook have a wider impact than instant messaging might, since the nature of it is to make relatively brief comments, sometimes up to a paragraph. Anything more would mean other mediums *are* better for communication. So I'm focusing on what is important to what Facebook is for. What is promoted is shortened ideas, because that's how it works. Not because someone is declaring by decree (well, Twitter does...) that communication should be a certain size, but because it is inconvenient otherwise. Throw in popularity, and many just opt for convenience. Maybe they don't *strive* to go for relatively short ideas, but that's the consequence of Facebook if they use it as intended. It leads to negative habits of thought which are harder to break than my instant messaging example. I used to not use full punctuation and capitalization, but now I do, and I think breaking the habit of not doing any of that drew me away from perhaps growing habits of thinking in soundbyte ways. I know I only had that bad habit because I just went for convenience of the medium, but I saw particular things that weren't good, intellectually speaking. Breaking that habit would be harder with Facebook, because it involves video, status updates, and more.

To elaborate on the individual/collective point some more: communicating this way with whoever it is you present your interests/status updates/wall posts/etc to, even if it's a small group of friends, is adding an element of depersonalization. Friends wouldn't need to ask what you do. All friends added are of same importance on Facebook. To find out music tastes, they just have to look at your profile. Same with books, movies, and some inane things that make you laugh, tv you watched as a kid... As bluecherry suggested, I also get the impression Facebook is a matter of putting on a show, hence my use of the word narcissism in my first post in this thread. The nature of it is totally unpersonalized. Same with any other social networking for the most part.

Facebook, like any tool, is not JUST a tool. It has an impact on the workings of society since it has become widespread. The invention of the book wasn't merely a matter of it being more convenient for some people to read. It had a profound impact on the distribution of ideas, and promotion of reason in general. I'm not disliking Facebook because it doesn't fit my needs, I'm disliking it because of the particular kind of impact it has.

Edited by Eiuol

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Not to hijack the thread, but what good reason is there not to use facebook?

For one, because I just don't get it. I mean, I've no idea what it's good for. I've signed up and I don't what to do once I'm in.

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Facebook is my favourite way of finding articles, I have lots of friends who post good ones when they find them all the time. It's also probably the biggest single way people get in touch with me: most of my friends, and even professional contacts, don't know my email address. It's also the biggest way I publicise my own writing, whenever I write an article the vast majority of the hits come from Facebook.

To elaborate on the individual/collective point some more: communicating this way with whoever it is you present your interests/status updates/wall posts/etc to, even if it's a small group of friends, is adding an element of depersonalization. Friends wouldn't need to ask what you do.

Isn't the telephone guilty of the same thing? Or even writing itself?

All friends added are of same importance on Facebook. To find out music tastes, they just have to look at your profile. Same with books, movies, and some inane things that make you laugh, tv you watched as a kid...

Actually, you can organise your contacts into different lists and specify exactly who can see each piece of content.

I don't do this though, because there's nothing about my personal life I'd be ashamed to admit to my most formal acquaintances. If they don't like me, I don't want them.

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Isn't the telephone guilty of the same thing? Or even writing itself?

Maybe, but in a far less significant way. When you talk on the telephone or write a letter to a friend, I doubt that many people say less than if the person was standing right in front of them. Facebook, however, champions the use of short responses (replying to status, commenting on photos, etc.). This isn't a bad thing at all, but it is definitely different from talking on the phone or writing. If you compared two people who talk on the phone each week, to two people who use Facebook to communicate I would assume there would be a huge difference in how personable their interactions are.

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Let's consider other forms of informal communication, then. I can think of telephone, email, and instant messaging.

It sounds to me you are blaming the tools for how they are used. FB has never once forced my to compromise how I choose to use it; it has never once supplanted my volition. It is JUST a tool. How some people may choose to use it or mis-use it is another matter. FB does not have an impact on anyone. What has an impact is how people choose to use FB, and how people choose to respond to what they see others do.

To some extent, it gets people to drop grammar and spelling, for the sake of speed. I actually forcibly made myself type grammatically, in order to avoid habits of simplifying thought excessively. Complete thoughts only. Punctuation, too.

IM has never once made me do anything. How does it "get" people to do this? What magical power does it have over people that they can't rationally decide for themselves how they choose to write?

Social networking sites like Facebook have a wider impact than instant messaging might, since the nature of it is to make relatively brief comments, sometimes up to a paragraph.

I've written rather long posts/responses once you get out of the Status part. It's actually not as limited as you are stating here. Granted, it is normally used that way, but people can use it that way. But then, sometimes brief responses are all people need to communicate some ideas. Not all conversations must be long and drawn out. If they need to be, one can use another tool instead. The impression you are giving is that there is some inherent value to "long ideas". You are also giving the impression that there is no value to convenience.

Maybe they don't *strive* to go for relatively short ideas, but that's the consequence of Facebook if they use it as intended

Aside from not being totally true (because one can use FB as designed to express longer ideas), why are "short ideas" inherently bad? Why can't some ideas be expressed in shorter terms to numerous people at once and still be a good thing? Why is it that you had a problem using complete sentences, proper grammar and proper punctuation on FB and I have never had that problem. I'm not saying I have never shortened up ideas using incomplete sentences or fragments, but FB has never compelled me to write as such. It's always been my choice and in doing so I was reasonable sure that communication would be effective to the intended recipients.

As far as depersonalization, as has been stated, you can actually control what information goes to what friends in the form of groups. Not only that, you can control what information goes to all your friends by selectively considering what to post on FB at all.

I don't see how any of the problems you have mentioned cannot be countered by the rational behavior of individuals who use the tool.

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If it wasn't for the "wall", I don't think I would have any complaints. The whole purpose of a "wall" is mass communication, which aside from emergencies and event invitations, I don't see a point to. Even if you're posting a message on someone else's wall that's supposed to be specifically for them, any of your friends or their friends can see it and tell you whether they "like" it or not or post a comment of their own. If people thought about what they posted and were interested in carrying on thought provoking conversations on their walls, then I could see the benefit in that, but that's not really how the medium is set up. The text boxes are small, there's like buttons all over the place, and there's so much other stuff going on on the site that people won't even read your posts if they're too long. Most of the posts I read are just people's immediate reactions to other posts. Sure it's nice to see what your friends think of a video or a link occasionally, but does any of this matter enough to be spending time doing it on a regular basis?

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Even if you're posting a message on someone else's wall that's supposed to be specifically for them, any of your friends or their friends can see it and tell you whether they "like" it or not or post a comment of their own.

If you are posting a something you want to be private, then you you shouldn't post it to their wall. Facebook has a private message function that is used for more private communications.

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If people thought about what they posted and were interested in carrying on thought provoking conversations on their walls, then I could see the benefit in that, but that's not really how the medium is set up.

By the way, ARC and ARI ( as well as the people that follow those pages) post lots of information on their respective Facebook walls that can sometime lead to "thought provoking" conversations as well as useful links and notices.

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