Facebook the Devourer
I can't find a way to write this article without it sounding like a rant, so why fight it? The views and opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.
Facebook is a social network with 1 billion users. It devours everything it touches and produces nothing of value, including—ironically—their stock price.
I'm not going to argue that people are wasting time playing FarmVille, but I am going to argue that for such a massive collection of users, the output isn't very impressive. Look at this idiotic commercial. They really want to project the idea that they're somehow making a difference in exchange for harvesting our personal life for advertisers.
Devouring The Internet
Facebook's famous for their walled garden. A walled garden filled with ads. To keep people on their pages, staring at those ads, they've tried to take the Internet and move it inside Facebook.
They tried to move instant messaging inside Facebook. Calendaring. Photos. Booty calls. We had Google Calendar, Instagram, Flickr and SMS, they didn't do anyone a great service by ripping them off and locking them and the content inside Facebook.
Why are people sharing links to The Washington Post, a fucking print newspaper, that require installing a Facebook app to read! Because Facebook wants to eat that content, and Instagram posts, and all your check-in data, and your music playlists and pretend like everything's inside the garden so why would you go outside.
In Africa, they're going further to actively conflate Facebook with The Internet.
As Christopher Poole mentioned at XOXO, we should take a look at the creative output of different communities. 4chan is a meme machine, constantly grinding to establish the culture of the internet. Youtube has launched not only memes, but entire careers. Reddit is quickly becoming the go-to place for creators and politicians to reach out to the Internet community with their AMAs. Folks are writing books in real-time on Google Docs. Twitter help people organize revolutions.
What memes, musicians or debates have come out of Facebook? Even Myspace had it's success stories. Rather, Facebook is happy to take people's boredom and opinions and funnel it inward into endless comment threads. Do they care that nothing useful is coming from this? Not as long as everyone's refreshing new ads.
I said I wasn't going to complain about the wasted time on Facebook, but I will complain about the wasted talent on Facebook. The best and brightest have been lured into the beast with giant paychecks, childish perks and the idea that somehow a new blue square button on Facebook is the best possible way they can change the world.
There are websites that have become core pieces of the Internet, without which we would be left with a giant hole. Imagine an Internet without Google, Amazon or Wikipedia. Sure, they could be replaced in time, but the absence would be felt.
If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, nobody would give a shit. They would move on, like they moved on from Myspace. They would find another instant messaging app. They would find a different calendar. They'd use email. And they'd do it overnight because they're simply a pile of communication technologies for which we have plenty of replacements already. There's nothing special about Facebook to miss and for a giant, wealthy company with a billion users… that's pretty sad.