Mid-Week Poll: Has Facebook Changed Your Life?

Drew made an interesting (if totally offhand) remark in yesterday’s Oscar Postmortem. Referring to ‘The Social Network‘, he said that the film was about “a technology that changed our lives.” A couple of readers picked up on this and debated in the comments whether Facebook was really that important. Let’s hear what the rest of you have to say.

For me, Facebook is a necessary evil and a significant annoyance. I don’t check it every day. In fact, I’m perfectly happy letting weeks go by without thinking about it.

I use Facebook only because pretty much everyone I know uses it. I only accept friend requests from people I actually know, so don’t feel slighted if you tried to Friend me and I didn’t respond. It’s nothing personal, really. I don’t make my details otherwise public. If people want to know what I’m thinking, they can read what I’ve written in this blog, in my other writings, or interact with me in any of the forums I regularly participate in. Or email me, of course. With all of that, I feel like my life is sufficiently public enough. I have no interest in sharing the details of what I do from minute-to-minute in the course of a day. And I have even less interest in reading about the minutiae of anyone else’s life, even my close friends. Some things don’t need to be shared.

On a technical level, Facebook is one of the worst designed pieces of consumer software I’ve ever used. (Only iTunes frustrates me more.) I feel like I’m a reasonably web-savvy guy, but I find myself struggling to do even simple things, like find people I might know, which is supposedly the whole point and purpose of the thing. There’s nothing intuitive about the design of the program. Features and settings are arranged haphazardly, or buried in submenus with obscure names that you’d never think to look in. And the mobile version is even worse. That one’s been stripped of almost any useful functionality at all. I simply do not understand how the most popular web site in the world could be this badly implemented.

Do I sound like an old fuddy duddy? Maybe, but so be it.

Now you tell me, what are your feelings about Facebook?

Has Facebook Changed Your Life?

View Results

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  1. EM

    I don’t use Facebook and have no interest in doing so (it does not serve an unfulfilled need for me, and I think it does what it does poorly, including its callous treatments of its users’ privacy interests); but I would say it has changed my life in that it has added new annoyance, mostly in its intrusions onto Web sites that I do visit and in some persons’ and organizations’ use of Facebook for restrictive posting of material that need not be restricted or that could have been shared privately some other way (e.g., e-mail).

  2. I will agree with you on one thing – the mobile version is HORRID, and the Android and iPhone version each have their strength and weaknesses. Shoot, the the Android version seems to limit your status updates to around 140ish characters (never actually counted), but its definately not the 460 that the website allows. And none of the mobile versions let you upload videos! To do that, you need either a third party app, or to transfer videos to the computer first. And forget copy & paste or sharing, so if John Piper said something profound this morning that I want to share, I either have to retype the entire thing, or wait until I get to a PC to copy and paste. SO annoying.

    However, it has changed my life. I have connected with friends and family that I have not seen in years (and in some cases, decades). This has lead to many of my real friendships I have now. It allows me to see my best friend’s from highschool picutres and videos of their kids, which I probably would never see as we now live in different parts of the country. If I need help with a personal issue, I know I can post it, and within an hour or so, have several responses with great advice.

    However, I do not want to farm in your mafia or fight on your farm. 🙂 Thank goodness I learned how to block the majority of posts and game requests made by these games.

  3. Facebook is huge. It lets me keep in touch with friends and family and share pictures with ease. I can just upload the pics I took at Christmas, tag the appropriate family members and bam.

    I use the “Events” feature to organize my Bad Movie Nights and it does a great job of doing it. It’s much easier to invite people on Facebook than to try and dig up everyone’s email, and having a central place to talk about it is a boon.

    Facebook also lets me share my work. If I write a blog post that’s particularly interesting, I link it on Facebook and my friends can (and usually do) check it out. Similarly, when the High-Def Digest Facebook includes a link to something I’ve done, that tends to help generate a good deal of additional hits.

    I’m not going to pretend it’s well designed, and I could definitely survive without it. I could survive without a cell phone too. Facebook is a convenient tool for online communication that, along with Twitter, is becoming more of an essential every day.

  4. Being someone who not only programs for a living, but writes their own blog(I’m not saying anyone reads it lol!) I’d probably be the first person anyone would expect to use it. I’m actually the complete opposite.

    Most things can have good sides as well as bad. Blogs can be trivial rubbish and twitter can be about the most utterly inane stupidity. But at the same time, those services can have a positive side too. A good Blog can be the internet equivalent of an interesting magazine or newspaper article you may occasionally read, or twitter can be the equivalent of a personalised news headline service that leads to other things of similar interest (Although it can be used pathetically as well).

    Facebook is the equivalent of the worst soap operas, trashy gossip magazines, and over-the-fence rumour-mongering, yet seems to have no positive flip side. It serves no redeeming purpose whatsoever, as far as I can tell.

    It sounds over-the-top, but think of how reality TV has modified and lowered the tone of most programming. It’s cheap, easy, requires no effort, says and means nothing of depth or importance. Yet it appeals to the lowest and most subtle form of human curiosity… Gossip, triviality and often petty vindictiveness. Facebook is simply the Internet equivalent, and a brilliant creation it is, in that respect.

    Do I sound like I’m blowing it out of proportion? Yeah, sure… My distaste for it doesn’t help lol! 😉 But think about it… how many hours do people waste on it, doing and writing things they’re not even that interested in or care about?

    Has it changed my life? Only in the annoying number of times I have to tell people I’m not on it. And then the waste of time repeating it again and again, because they think everyone else should be. 😉

  5. Shayne

    I suppose it did change my life, but any networking site since Friendster and Orkut could have, it was merely a number game. When I moved from my home town many of the friends I made here were met via these sites. Most of my friends back home had nothing to do with even Myspace at the time though, but almost all of them eventually jumped on Facebook. As none of us are particularly good on the phone (and besides it’s really hard to have a phone conversation when you haven’t talked to someone in a year) it became essential to maintaining those relationships. The other interesting distinction between Facebook and the others to me is the all-inclusiveness of it (odd since the point initially was exclusivity) the fact that I am friends with my mom, my boss, several customers, every computer owning member of my family, My ex step-mom (yes really) and my 10th grade social studies teacher is pretty amazing.

  6. TJ Kats

    Use it and like it but don’t rely on it. Like others have said it think it is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends that now live in different parts of the country.

    I have a sister in southern Georgia and most of our immediate and extended family is in the Midwest. Her due date for her second child is tomorrow and Facebook makes it easy to share updates on the baby and pictures once the baby arrives.

    On the other side of the coin I agree with those that don’t care to hear about every thing that goes on with someone’s day. I don’t care that you just washed your car or took your dog for a walk.

  7. Facebook is THE social website on the net – as Drew pointed out, most of us use it because it’s the website everyone else is using. If someone comes along with a better website, please do so – but for now, Facebook is the best way to keep in touch with family, friends, breaking news, local events, etc. I have a lot of issues with its layout/functionality, but can’t deny I spend a great deal of time on the site.

    • I’ll go one step futher – what made Facebook so much better than Myspace was that it focused on the Status Updates, not on your “PAGE”. Myspace was pretty much a a static website you built that had a couple of Dymanic areas where you could do a short post of what you were doing. The goal of Myspace was to see how much you could get on your page before you crashed your friend’s computer.

      Facebook went back to the basics of Social Networking – that is, keeping in touch with people, and throwing out the crap.

  8. Kelly

    Facebook changed my life. In 2007, I received a message from an old high school friend wondering what I was up to. We went out a couple of nights later and have been inseparable ever since. Married since June of 2010. That being said, Facebook and all the drama people tend to post is quite annoying but I do check it on a daily basis. I think it’s a necessary evil in today’s world and yes the mobile app is pretty much garbage.

  9. Every social networking site I’ve been on has changed my life to some degree depending on who I keep contact with.

    It’s not that I love facebook, its jsut what everyone I know uses. and I love keeping in close contact with a wide range of people online. If a better site comes along I am all for it.
    It’s not so much that facebook has changed my life as much as I’ve changed my life on facebook. it might not be for everyone, but for know it sure as hell is for everyone I know. and I enjoy keeping tabs on those people more than I enjoy being too cool for the mainstream. and I’m in a band and it’s proven to be the best tool to get locals out to a show, compared to any other service like myspace, reverb, email lists ect. it’s the best free promotional tool on the internet end of story.

    • EM

      Like with a cannon? 😉

      I chose the “I hate it” option because it best fit my position of the available choices; however, it’s not actually true that I hate Facebook. Frankly, I don’t find it worth such a heavy emotional investment.

    • Did once, because an ex badgered me to give it a go. While I’ll admit it was nice to see photos of some old acquaintances here and there, I can live without ’em. The rest was just mindless, brain-melting, life-wasting triviality. 😉 As for proper friends and family, none of them are bothered with it anyway, and I keep in touch through the normal methods, despite some long distances.

      So yep! Hate it, and gave it a real shot lol! 😀 Hate is perhaps the wrong word, though… I think I find it more distasteful, than anything, and detest it rather than hate it.