Facebook, We need to talk

Facebook friends and users, we need to talk. This isn’t working out for me. It’s you, and it’s probably a little bit of me, but this has gone on too long and I need to cut the cord.

I’m tired of the stupid memes, the pointless life updates that no one really cares about but reads anyway, the twitter-like brevity of posts which turns them into drivel, the vaguebooking, the check-ins to places I’ll never be or visit (and don’t care about), the horrible segregation of friends (work-friends, family, acquaintances, and random people you may have met once), and the horrible history/timeline page in which you can’t find any of the actual information you’re looking for.

Facebook, you try to do so many things and end up failing at almost all of them. I know I’m probably not your target audience because I rarely post, I don’t upload pictures or video, I don’t buy stuff through the facebook apps or games, and I certainly don’t evangelize the site to other people, but god damn you’re bad.

I want to take a little bit of time to go through all the problems I have with Facebook.

1) People post the stupidest shit I don’t care about way more than the stuff I actually do care about. This is probably my main complaint with it. I initially signed up for Facebook because I wanted to see my best friend’s wedding pictures, but it was also to keep up to date with friends that I don’t interact with very often. This, it turns out, it is not very good at in most of the cases. The signal to noise ratio is so low, that I often start tuning out most people’s updates. I care about marriages, big trips people went on, nice surprises that happened to them, well thought out ideas or commentary; things of that nature. Unfortunately, these seem to be the rare things that people post. Don’t even get me started on vaguebooking, where people post things like “Uh, oh, something bad just happened.” If you have the time to post that something bad happened, GIVE CONTEXT. Are you ok? Do you need help? Don’t be an attention whore since all those types of posts imply is that you want someone to say “What’s wrong?” Next to vaguebooking as the worst types of posts are the slactivism ones such as “Post this on your wall if you care about this thing.” How about you volunteer, donate, or do something else other than sitting on your lazy ass making you think you’re actually doing something. These types of posts on facebook suck. I’ve tried to stay away from this type of thing, and if you look at my history, I’d say I’ve done a fairly good job. People complain sometimes that I don’t post enough, but if they really want to know how I am, there’s always e-mail or the phone. I wish that other people felt the same.

2) I really don’t care about what game you’ve been playing lately (on Facebook), what song you’ve been listening to (on Spotify or elsewhere), what article you’ve read recently (on the NYTimes), or what physical place you’ve checked into. What does this tell me? There’s no context to any of this. I don’t have the time to check out all the links that people put on Facebook, so tell me why I should care about it. Also, fuck you Facebook for not allowing me to disable every single thing like this. I know you want the ad revenue and the clicks and what not, but it really, really sucks for the user. Facebook has been trying to monetize their operation for a while, and while this is a good way to do it, it’s really annoying.

3) Facebook is a terrible history keeper. I was trying to find out some information on a cat litter box that my friend had posted about several years in the past, but I couldn’t do it. There’s no search function, the timeline only shows you what Facebook thinks is interesting (and not what I actually want to find), and it’s not indexed in google since it’s a walled in garden, so I can’t use traditional search engines to find it out. Facebook is a place where you put in information about yourself, but you can’t get it out, at all. If I want to find something out that I put on my blog, there are very easy ways to do so. I wish that Facebook was half as functional in that regard.

4) Discussions suck on Facebook. We learned out over ten years ago that a flat comment system is one of the worst ways to hold a discussion on the internet. You can’t reply under people, which makes the comments fractured and hard to read. Don’t even get me started on posts that have more than 20 comments. It gets unreadable very, very quickly. It’s fine for posts that have 2-3 comments, but anything past that is really bad. The other bad part is that discussions often have groups of people that are very different and have no relation to each other aside from the original poster. Combine this with the fact that some people use Facebook as a popularity contest and have 1000+ people on their friends list, and you may be conversing with idiots. There are no moderators and people say the dumbest crap sometimes. Unless you personally know the people you’re commenting with, more than likely the anonymous aspect of the fact that you don’t know them will come out even though you’re not technically anonymous. Even if you’re in a group that’s trying to have a serious conversation about a serious topic (abortion, politics, soccer), it’s really hard to do because of the structure of the comment system is so poor.

5) There’s no good way to segregate my feed like I would a normal RSS reader. Some of my friends have started posting music on a daily basis, which I enjoy, but it tends to take up a BUNCH of space. I can’t filter these music posts and put them in a folder that I’d like to read later. They’re all under one global feed. It’s like an RSS reader (which is awesome and super extensible), but without any of the good parts. I can’t mark posts as read, unread, save for later, etc. They’re in a stream of consciousness that just doesn’t seem to be formatted at all. Also, the fact that, by default, Facebook doesn’t show you all of the posts/updates from friends is really aggravating. I want to keep up to date with what’s going on, I want to see music, funny videos, etc, I just don’t want them to all come to me in the same manner. Some people I like because I play sports with them, some people I like because I work with them, some people I like because I’m related to them; none of these things mean that I’ll like all of those topics with everyone. Filters.

So what does Facebook actually do well? Events, groups, and having nearly everyone on it. Hardly anyone uses Evite.com anymore as it’s easier to add people to a Facebook event and update people that way. It’s very good at this and is one of the primary reasons I haven’t left Facebook altogether. There are also groups that I’m a part of that are low chatter but have important updates similar to a mailing list. Lastly, having almost everyone on Facebook means there’s an easy way to figure out how to contact someone. It’s a huge white pages directory that’s semi-easy to find people on (much easier than Googling someone’s name and wondering if this is the same Sam Robinson that I know, or if it’s a completely different one).

I wish that I could get a facebook lite, in which people rarely update except with important information or pictures I actually care about (from important events), and have an easy way to contact them with, and be able to set up events that people can respond to. That, for me, would be ideal. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’d make much money and I don’t think people are trained to do that sort of thing. In this day and age a lot of us are focused on the 140 character update, the simple checkin, and the quick post instead of the well thought out post, the informative article, or something else of that nature. The latter group takes time, which most people don’t want to dedicate to doing those sorts of activities.

I think what I’m going to end up doing is closing down all functionality of Facebook aside from adding friends and accepting/initiating events after today. If I really want to know what’s going on with someone, I may check up on them from time to time, but generally speaking, the day to day drivel that goes on on Facebook is worthless to me. I’m more than likely to hear about how someone is doing from either themselves or second hand, which is fine by me. I want to believe that Facebook is actually going to change at some point into something that I want, but I just don’t see that happening. Unfortunately, Google Plus seems to have many of the same problems that Facebook has, so I don’t think moving over there is going to solve much. I don’t know if it’s indicative of the medium, or just how people have implemented it, but I hope it changes.

Telecoms and Why I Hate You

Here are three (One, Two, Three) articles about how the wireless carriers are taking your money, colluding with each other, and locking you in to their service so you can’t easily get out. It’s something I’ve been talking about for ages and not understanding how it’s beneficial for the consumer. I really, really wish that companies would think of the consumer more than they think of their bottom line, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen without some serious changes to how our society works.

Anyway, aside from that pie in the sky stuff, they really are interesting reads. The first is about how carriers have started saying that the internet is posing a threat to them because of how large videos are and how much it costs them to constantly stream them. That’s why they want to start putting caps on people so they can only download certain amounts instead of this fake “unlimited” that they have now (which is really bullshit because if you download a ton they’ll turn off your service and make you call them only to tell you to stop doing it even though it’s unlimited). What’s really stupid is that their profits have been growing, their costs have been getting cheaper, and their claims don’t match up. So a freshman legislator is looking to ban this stupid practice (go Eric Massa!).

The second is about how the FCC is going to examine phone lock in (you buy a phone from Cingular and can’t use it at Verizon). Honestly, I hate how we subsidize the phones through the service. It’s a retarded way to do it unless you A) Can’t afford a phone (or the phone you want) or B) Are a phone company. I remember reading a story about how way back in the day when phones in homes became more commonplace, you’d rent them or subsidize them through ma bell and one lady kept her phone for so long it actually ended up costing her something ridiculous like $10,000. Once you decouple the phone from the plan, both should get cheaper as market forces will bring them down. I’ve heard that Europe is that way and I really wish we were too.

The third is how AT&T and Verizon deny they price fix the text messages cost. This is probably the most ridiculous out of all of them. Text messages cost the company 160 bytes of traffic and yet most of them charge $0.20 for a single one off your plan. According to this article that amounts to $1,310 per MB of data. Fucking ridiculous. I don’t know how they could possibly claim with a straight face that they’re not price fixing for that.

Anyway, they’re all good articles and I hope that the companies all have to change their lying, thieving ways. I wish a telecom or utility company would come along that didn’t suck big, giant, huge donkey balls.

Don’t Take Medical Advice From Oprah

Newsweek’s article on Oprah and how her show pushes medical “cures” that are probably more harmful than helpful is very interesting. It talks about how she has guests on her show that are more often than not celebrities that swear by a cure or quack science that helps them live their lives. However, it turns out that they don’t seem to actually know what they’re talking about most of the time.

These people include Suzanne Summers and Jenny McCarthy. The former talks about how she tries to stay youthful by doing all of these horrendous things to her body that scientists say probably hurt her more than help her. McCarthy talks about how her son’s autism was caused by injections, which is so patently false according to studies done that it’s ridiculous. Their reasoning in believing these things is because “It works for me” and “A mother’s intuition”. Seriously, please don’t take your advice from these people. They’re quack jobs and have no scientific background at all.

Please trust scientists and people who actually know what they’re talking about. It’s really sad when people trust famous people more than scientists for information just because they see them on a seemingly reputable show like Oprah’s, but thems the sticks I guess.

I Hate Big Utilities Companies

I got a call from Comcast yesterday while I was walking to the climbing gym and figured it was about a potentially bounced credit card transaction (my credit card number was stolen and had to be reissued). It turns out, that wasn’t the case. They were calling me on my cell phone to ask if I knew that I was paying more than I should be on my internet I have with them. Why no I didn’t know I was spending too much. They then went on to tell me how if I got a package deal with some cable tv that they would be happy to provide me, I’d get a reduced rate on my internet.

I then proceeded to tell the lady on the other side of the phone that I don’t even own a tv and that I have no use for cable television. She didn’t quite seem to understand what she was supposed to do next. She reiterated the fact that I’m still paying too much and it’d be cheaper if I got the bundle. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I really should have asked her what I was going to do with that bundle that would cost me more in the end if I don’t have anything to hook it up to. Instead I tried to politely get off the phone by saying no thank you.

What a pain in the ass. I’ve had to deal with this kind of crap from every utility company I’ve ever had. Phone, internet, cable, dsl, etc, etc, etc. They don’t want to do me a favor, if they did, they’d tell me when they had deals that would lower my already ridiculously priced internet. Bastards.


My site was down for a day and a half and I’ve still not gotten a response as to why. Sure, there was a post on their status page saying they were getting dns flooded, but then they posted saying it was fixed. I hate, hate, hate the support for dreamhost, it’s absolutely shit when things go bad (and they’ve been doing that more and more lately).

The stupid thing is I wouldn’t mind the downtime if they gave up to date answers as to what was going on. Instead of saying “everything is fixed!”, when it’s clearly not, UPDATE YOUR FUCKING STATUS PAGE TO ACCOUNT FOR STUFF STILL BEING BROKEN!


Does anyone know of a good host that’s relatively cheap? I’d hate to move to somewhere else, but now I’m paranoid that not only would my website go down, but I have the potential to lose my data as well (since they don’t guarantee that I’ve found out).

I hate stuff like this.