Wednesday, November 6, 2013


When I was thinking about opening up FB a while ago, it struck me again that it is mainly this huge time suck that is almost always unsatisfying. I always expect (or at least hope) that something worth my time will appear. Instead I wade through reams of things to be ignored or which are mildly amusing at best. Meanwhile the minutes seem to rush away unnoticed.

I am sometimes tempted by links that I would never seek out on my own. The usual reason is that I am checking out something that is recommended by a person whose judgment I have some respect for. But time and again the links are not worth my time. They are not about things that interest me, or they are of poor quality. Many of these things are not links at all, but can be absorbed on the same page. I waste time looking at and reading these things, like memes. There are sometimes quite a few of these.

I suppose this social factor is really what is behind a lot of these phenomena. I get pulled into much more time wasting and recurring feelings of listlessness because of this implicit expectation about the relative value of the interests of people I like. 

And I don’t think such expectations are normally wrong. Instead, there is another factor unique to FB in play: there is a subtle pressure to post something, anything. Based on some of the things I have seen posted, many people must feel like anything they find mildly amusing is appropriate to post. Thus I see today, for example, someone I would not expect posting a Gawker “story” about funny photos of Toronto’s crack smoking mayor. And I don’t blame the poster (much) because it seems to me like the context encourages such behavior. It’s the same way one shouldn’t look down on a person when they act mildly silly to entertain an infant. FB infantilizes social interaction in an only somewhat metaphorical way.