Sunday, July 25, 2010

Facebook’s 500 Millionth User

I wonder, Mr. or Ms. 500,000,000th, just why you joined, and is the Facebook you envisioned, the one you now have? In the NY Times today, they were speculating on Facebook, and on whether it should be regulated, as a public utility? They were comparing Facebook to other utilities which, like Facebook, people love to hate. Turns out almost everyone hates Facebook, their cable company, their power company, their water company, but they keep on subscribing. Well, duh, I was thinking. If you would like water flowing from your tap, subscribing to the water company seems a wise course. Ditto, telephone, lights and sewer systems. And, of course, everyone hates their cable company, but if you want TV these days, you subscribe to a cable or satellite provider, and if you want Internet service, you subscribe to an ISP.

But, hold on, tell me again how Facebook is like any of those “public utilities”? What is it I can’t do if I’m not on Facebook? Contact my friends and let them know how I’m doing? Well, let’s see, there’s the telephone, US Mail system, and of course, assuming you have an ISP, there’s e-mail. I continue not to see in what way Facebook allows some contact form not already available to me via these “social networking” systems. You mean, I can’t “become a fan” of my NPR radio station without Facebook? True, but I can send them an annual check in the mail instead. Oh, you must mean that I can’t pick out which leader I most identify with . . . like Adolph Hitler, the choice of a close, young relative . . . charming.

And I can’t whine about my tough life, and why I’m not more privileged than I already am. Aw shucks.

No, Facebook eludes me. It’s where people go to whine. I had become a member of Facebook, and I was acquiring a large roster of “friends”. Then I began to discover that most of the people on my list weren’t really “friends”, but acquaintances perhaps. And if I had never communicated with them before Facebook, why would I need to now?

And then, the owners of Facebook, trying to make a megabuck or two, keep making these decisions to share your information with other commercial entities, with or without your permission. And that’s supposed to be ok? Well, I think I will be able to live out my life without Facebook. So, guys, whoever you are making grand public decisions, try to understand--Facebook is not a public utility. It may need to get slapped down periodically for doing stupid things with personal information, but your local water company it ain’t.

I hope that 500 millionth person is happy with his or her Facebook persona and is able to tolerate all the whiny people found there. Good luck to all of you and peace be with you. May you find on Facebook whatever is lacking currently in your own personal life.
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