I feel like the move to google+ is like when you get tired of your broken, fucked up installation of Windows, and instead of fixing it, you’d rather burn the mother fucker to the ground and install Linux. In the end, it’s no better, just different, new, and clean. -Steve Mothershead
Reading this comment from a friend tonight not only made me laugh, but it made me think about social networks and put my thoughts I’ve had into words.
All social networks are empty shells. They are what we make of them and who we follow to build them.
For starters, I missed the boat on Facebook. I had graduated college when Facebook launched. However, I was still working for the University so I had that all-important .edu address. So I signed up for Facebook because I’m a serial signer-upper.
I joined. I used it. I still use it… somewhat. Most of Facebook is not very interesting because just like every other social network, we, the people, are the product. The same goes for Twitter, Friendster, Myspace and Google+.
Without us, all of these places are the blank pages in a notebook. They are blank text files. We are the product being sold to advertisers. In all cases, we are not the audience, we are the product and are treated as such.
This made me think about how I interact with the three social networks I use.1
I am a member of Google+ mostly out of curiosity. I like the clean design and the lack of clutter and eye-bleeding customization options.
However, no one is really there. I follow a mix of friends, co-workers and smart people I really admire. There still isn’t much going on. Google+ just opened up to the public negating the need for an invitation starting yesterday so we’ll see if there’s a gold rush on the platform or not.
Facebook I feel like I missed the boat on. I was there in the early days and it felt small((It was also TheFacebook.com back then.)) and I used it to keep up with friends. My brother, who was starting college as Facebook launched and was totally addicted and practically how he scheduled his life.
Facebook to me still feels like an overt way to sell ads to us and push products and sell our data to advertisers who can push more product upon us. That is also why their constant rearranging of layouts and privacy settings. Anything to make a buck and to make it more enticing for us to give them the what little information they don’t already have.
Facebook is a giant data mine. They need your data, all your data. Just now, in the last F8 Facebook revealed it wanted to “tell the story of your life.” They want all your data. They want to make money on your data. And they aren’t going to be sly or embarrassed about it.
I treat Facebook like a flea market. I follow mostly people I know in real life, ignoring some and reading others. I follow my family. I follow some brands who offer me value or because I signed up for a drawing and never bothered to delete them.2
Day in and day out, I don’t get a lot of value out of Facebook. There’s very few links I get everyday, save for a small group of people who are only on Facebook, that are of interest to me.
Twitter is my bread and butter. I am very careful and skeptical of who I follow. I tweak and tend to my list of people I follow almost daily. I am always looking for a better mix of people who share things most interesting to me but without a lot of noise.
I even created a DC Metro News list because while I no longer commute by subway daily, I want to keep track of those contacts for when I need them.
Twitter is where I follow the thinkers and writers I find interesting and like-minded. I follow them on Twitter because for most of them, that’s where they are outside their blogs and newspaper columns.