Friday, May 9, 2014

Facebook Friends

Facebook friends are a perplexing thing to me - both having them and being one. Because of the hodge-podge of thoughts in the swamp I call my head, I have taken a couple moments to put some semblance of order to what I want to say. I am starting at the end. A totally reasonable place to start, right? Yes, yes, as a writer I should understand the importance of a strong beginning, but if Memento can start at the end, why can't I?

Today I purged around two hundred 'friends' from my Facebook. I feel good about the decision. Kind of liberating, actually. A little bit godly, I must admit, deciding who stays and who goes. The truth is, it all began with a purpose. I intended to weed out those I never talk to and the ones I didn't know who the hell they even were. But as the unfriending got underway, I realized something interesting, and a wee bit odd. Facebook wasn't showing me all my friends. Some of you might think I was doing it wrong, but I wasn't. I totally understand the Facebook and all its functions. I clicked on 'all' my friends and it only showed me around half, if that. Right this very second, I have 350 'friends' on Facebook and I just counted how many it is showing me. Can you guess the number?


So, where the hell are the other 202? Good question. I have no flipping idea.

Personally, I think if it says 'all' friends, it should actually be ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS. Imagine if I said you could have all of the vanilla cake with fluffy lemon frosting only to give you a sliver of it? You'd be pissed off, and perfectly justified. I mean, I'd rage over not getting the whole cake. And I really can't come up with a good reason why Facebook doesn't let you see all your friends. I can only surmise it's the powers that be not wanting you to see all the people who aren't talking to you - all this ignoring and non-communication on their super awesome 'social networking' site! The horror!

I put the words social networking into single quotation marks because Facebook isn't a social networking site anymore, much like the Twitter. Whoa? You might be saying. What kind of baloney am I talking about? This can't possibly be true. After all, you saw the movie with Jessie Eisenberg in 2010 called The Social Network and it was clearly all about that dude who started the greatest ever of all social networking sites.

Yeah, except that was way back in the day when Facebook gifts were free, people still used the poking function, and you didn't have to use your number to sign up. Now you practically have to pay for anything awesome, it doesn't keep you connected and it pretty much wants your first born, if it doesn't already have him/her.

There are two very different reasons why the Twitter and the Facebook aren't social networking sites anymore. The Twitter is now a place where  the posts people make are mostly pre-programmed updates, the majority of which are selling something. Very few people actually log into Twitter anymore. For the most part, they link all their social media from one hub, like HootSuite, and don't even interact with any of their followers. Did you catch that? If there is no interacting, then there is no socializing, which means there is no networking. I get people following me all the time, only to unfollow me a day later when I don't return the favour. This isn't to say I wouldn't follow them, I'm just not given the opportunity, and also, they aren't talking to me! These people don't comment on my tweets or posts. Not even a hello, for crying out loud. I tried and tried with Twitter, but it is hopeless. Now I just auto post my blogs from my fan page on FB, because if you can't beat them ... you get the point.

Now, Facebook is another monster altogether, but the end result is the same - no interaction. Back in December, Facebook decided they were changing the way pages worked. Basically, any post you put out into the world would only reach about 10% of your followers. This was all done for a money grab. They implemented this whole 'boost your post' option, which basically means you can pay Facebook a bundle of money to reach the people who voluntarily followed you in the first place. Seems weird, right? Well, it is, and shady too.

Massive companies like Coca-Cola and McDonalds won't suffer because of this. They have millions of followers, so even reaching 10% is pretty damn good, and they also have a surplus of money to boost their posts. You know those really annoying advertisements in your feed that you hide because you hate seeing them? Those are people who have paid Facebook so much money that they are boosting their posts to people who don't even like the freakin' company. Ridiculous, right?

In the end, it's the little guys who suffer. In the beginning, I used to get comments and likes on my fan page posts, it used to reach hundreds of my followers, now I am lucky if twenty people see it, no one shares them anymore, and life is a little bit lonely over there. And it's fine. I mean, Facebook is a free site and I am using it as such. I'm just a little old blogger doing this in my spare time. Where it really gets tragic is small businesses. Companies and people who relied on Facebook to reach out to their fans/viewers/readers for a minimal profit. Those people are getting shot in the face by Facebook's greed, and that frustrates me.

What's even more annoying is the changes implemented to fan pages back in December are also being enforced on your personal pages. Don't act surprised. You've already noticed it. People you used to talk to all the time aren't showing up in your feed. No one is liking or commenting on your statuses. The readers on your blog have dropped drastically. The only time anyone connects with you is when it's your birthday, because Facebook reminds everyone you still exist.

In the past couple months, I've seen a plethora of updates from friends asking if people can see their posts, or complaining about the lack of support lately on Facebook. Do you really think all those lovely people who used to take the precious second to like your statuses don't like you anymore? No, they do. They just don't see you in their feed! Like they aren't appearing in yours! So, how do we get over these staggering limitations?

For a while now, I've figured the more you interact with people, the more you will see from them in your feed. This is true, for sure. But when you have over a hundred friends, it's near impossible to interact with them all daily. Heck, ten is tough for me. The really important ones get starred, like my sister and brother, Scraps, Rebs, Noelle, my mom and dad) so I always know what they are up to. But I can't star all the ones I love, then my notifications would be out of control. There has to be an easier, less cluttered way, right?

Ages ago, I started changing my news feed to 'most recent' stories, instead of 'top stories'. (Yeah, it's totally aggravating that Facebook takes it upon itself to switch my feed back to 'top stories' all the time, too. Don't even get me started on 'top stories' either. How the hell do they choose what is a top story? Most of the time it's something with three likes and one comment. Let me tell you, that algorithm is off.) Anyhow, I find 'most recent' stories has helped a bit with staying connected to all the beautiful gals and guys I used to romp around with on the internet.

Back to the point, I shouldn't have to star people or interact with all my favourites daily, or keep putting my news feed to 'most recent' stories. Facebook should show me the posts my friends make. All my friends. Because if I didn't want to see them, then I would remove them from my feed, or Facebook altogether. And if you just so happen to be one of those people who don't use Facebook all that much, you're out of luck. No one will see you. You won't see many other people. It's like a needy girlfriend. Facebook needs constant reassurance and love in order for it to perform adequately. Notice how I didn't say 'well' or 'good'. Because with the recent changes, I doubt Facebook will ever be good again. Harsh, right? Well, that's how I feel.

None of this has much to do with why I removed 200 of my friends, though. Not really. A small fraction of it stems from not being able to interact with a lot of them and how there isn't much social networking going on over there anymore. But most of it all comes down to friendship. The people I culled today weren't my friends. Heck, most of them weren't even acquaintances. They have never commented or liked anything I have ever posted. So, why should they be there? I'm not seeing their updates. They aren't seeing mine.

So, I brought out my axe and hacked and slashed. Now I am comfortable with the people on my list. People I've had interactions with. I recognize their faces (or avatars, because some of them never even show their faces). We've chatted, laughed, exchanged witticisms, or maybe even road tripped somewhere together. Left behind are people I like, or would like to know better. By ousting a few shadows, I am hoping to reconnect with a few people who have gotten overlooked in the madness.

Now my spring cleaning is done. Or at least I think it is, I have 202 friends I can't see.


Rebecca Hamilton said...

You summed this up pretty perfectly! I get annoyed that some friends never seem to show up in my feed no matter what I do. (Actually, you are one of them, and every time I reply to your posts it's because I went to YOUR page to see what you've been up to since facebook apparently doesn't want me to know.) I would have to hit "notify me" on everyone to see all their posts. This is annoying. Extremely annoying. Okay, infuriating. I can't subscribe to everyone or I will miss all the other notifications I do need to see. if they would just show in my FEED, that would be great. But that's apparently too much to ask for.

Tee said...

@Rebecca - I have already noticed a vast improvement. You are in my feed a lot more lately. As are a lot of other people I never used to see.

Tina C said...

Peek-a-boo! I see you, Tee! I'm very happy to see a Nerd Bird blog pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. I wonder if I made the cut or if I was one of the hidden 😆 Either way, I'm happy to be here.