My dentist wants to be my friend.
No offense, Dr. Bob, but I don’t want to deepen our relationship. To be honest I don’t look forward to seeing you. In fact, I would prefer to maintain the sanctity of our dentist-patient relationship by keeping our interactions infrequent, in person and fully covered by insurance.
But now that Dr. Bob has joined Facebook I have one more unrequited friend request to feel guilty about when I log in. And one more reason to hate Facebook.
But I’m not the only one of Facebook’s 600 million users who has “issues” with the platform. It has been criticized for both its privacy policies and the way it explains those policies. Recently it introduced a trial privacy statement that doesn’t change the policies, but attempts to be clearer and easier to use. Comments are invited, so head over there and see if you can figure it out.
The language of the new policy is definitely clearer, and Facebook gets points for that. Yet the interface is designed to be “visual and interactive," which means that there are tabs and menus galore and I still get a nagging feeling that I may be missing something important. Something like this announcement shared by one of my Facebook friends: "Tomorrow Facebook will change its privacy settings to allow Mark Zuckerberg to come into your house while you sleep and eat your brains with a sharpened spoon. To stop this from happening go to Account> Home Invasion Settings> Cannibalism> Brains and unclick the 'Tasty' box.”
But the ever-changing default settings and the lack of trust aren’t the only reasons we love to hate Facebook. Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post, called Facebook a “tepid, lifeless lagoon of dishwater-dull discourse.”
Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard wrote that “collecting Facebook friends is the equivalent of being a cat lady, collecting numerous Himalayans, which you have neither the time nor the inclination to feed.”
Andy Ostroy, writing on the Huffington Post, called it a “cyberland of rampant narcissism and wasted time.”
And I will admit that my friends’ status updates sometimes leave me longing for a So What button, rather than just the standard Like button.
But Facebook has obviously proved its appeal—or addictiveness—as a means for connecting with old friends, sharing pictures, and wasting time. And in countries where citizens have to fight for a platform to speak, it has even proved to be a tool for social change.
So while I find Mr. Zuckerberg’s creation almost as irritating as his character in “The Social Network,” it seems almost rude to stay off Facebook these days.
So I will see you on Facebook, friends. And yes, Dr. Bob, I will be there for my next cleaning.