I'll tell you up front that I fell into the hype at the start-up of Facebook. My friends were signing up and more importantly, my family was also. Since my children and grand-children live in Kentucky and we live in Florida it was a great way to see pictures and keep in touch with the things going on in their lives. But as I soon found out, the price of that pleasure was that I had to wade through the musings of everyone else that were in my friends and family circle. And that even went farther by getting to see comments of their friends and family if they replied to something. You know how it works. And yes, I know you can 'filter' what or who you see but that is not always so easy to do.
There was a period of time where it seemed like every time I signed on to Facebook something had been changed and I had to figure out how to locate what I was looking for or how to change a setting that Facebook decided on their own to change. That still happens to some extent today. The rammed-down-your-throat use of "Timeline" is just one example.
Douthat explained that the first idea collapsed along with the housing prices and the stock market in 2007 and 2008. But the Web 2.0 illusion survived long enough to cost credulous investors a small fortune in Facebook's disaster of an initial public offering.
Bloomberg Businessweek declared the IPO "the biggest flop of the decade" after five days of trading. Why did I get pleasure by reading that? I totally agree with Douthat when he says that Facebook has always struck us both as one of the most noxious social networking sites, dependent for its success on the darker aspects of online life: the zeal for constant self-fashioning and self-promotion, the pursuit of virtual forms of "community" and "friendship" that bear only a passing resemblance to the genuine article, and the relentless diminution of the private sphere in the quest for advertising dollars.
He goes on about the commercial limits of the Internet and how it has created a cultural revolution rather than an economic one. Twitter is not Ford Motor Co. and Google is not General Electric. And except when he sells our eyeballs to advertisers for a pittance, we won't all be working for Mark Zuckerberg someday.
I know that a lot of people that might read this love Facebook, or at least cannot imagine life without it. I'm not trying to change that. I'm not even telling you that I am closing out my account and having nothing to do with social networking. But I can tell you I am very close. I now try to quickly sign on and scan most of the comments and search only for new pictures of the kids and what is going on in their lives. I can block out most of the harping and complaining and the high game scores people have reached. I can skip over the two-sided conversations that people have that used to conducted over a telephone (remember those?) or rarer yet, in person.