Thursday, August 9, 2012

Losing Face(book) over Time(line)

... or "to leave or not to leave". 

I got the following notice late Tuesday (August 9): 

Welcome to Your Timeline — Preview

Timeline is your collection of the photos, posts and experiences that help tell your story.
People won't start seeing your timeline until August 14. This gives you a chance to:
1. Review what's on your timeline now.
2. Add or hide whatever you want.

I immediately posted a knee jerk scream, which drew some follow-up from "friends".  One said get over it. (Gee, thanks for the support, bro.) Another spoke up that she likes the new format.  (Credit to her for that because I accuse the majority of silent acceptance.) A third thought he had angered me with his jab: why should a free service support two interfaces? But I was not angry (at him). I said that I should follow my plan and leave. Both he and a fourth asked me to stay.

Guessing it is obvious ... I really don't like Timeline.

So ... to stay or not to stay?
I have less than five days to decide.
If I do leave, I have less than five days to complete the other arrangements.
(Which have been in development for years anyway.)

And what is the problem?
I have always found the new format more difficult to follow (as others have switched).  While I like the idea of "telling my story", I feel even more exposed because I distrust Facebook's handling of "my story", and this is a further step in me organizing the data for them. But most significantly, I hate being told what to with my own stuff. I despise being forced into a framework I find unwieldy.There is at least a learning curve, which burns up time I don't have.

There is more to it.
The jab from that third friend (mentioned beforehand) was ... in the Facebook economy, users are not the customer, they are the product. Users are "sold" to advertisers. This is widely recognized by computer professionals. (Probably clearly seen also by economists, certainly by advertisers.) It is not understood by lay people (normal users, consumers, most of your family and friends). The majority are lambs ... silently sold to the sellers.

If that last sentence seems senseless, that is the point. The US economy, even the world economy, has turned into one massive TV broadcast, paid for by advertising. So it's all free, right? Not! Advertisers want you to buy something. They will fund the "free show" (television, radio, and now internet) in hopes that you will spend real money on other things. But many of us would happily pay for programming and services if we could get relief from the mind numbing drone of commercials. (And why is it that so many of the subscription channels on cable and satellite also run ads? Someone is double-dipping. Ewww...)

Granted, I don't pay for this service either. But it is backed by one that I do pay for.

That's more than I wanted to say about advertising, and probably less than I should say about Facebook. And now I have 45 minutes less time to figure out what I will do about Timeline.

-- R; <><