Facebook? *Facepalm.* FAIL.

Remember the story about the farmer who had a goose that laid golden eggs? Day after day, it gave him a golden egg, but — although he was slowly becoming rich — the farmer became impatient. One day, convinced that the goose’s belly was full of gold, he slaughtered the goose and cut it open.

It’s easy to dismiss this story as a simplistic, gruesome parable about avarice and impatience. But this parable is playing out before our very eyes, in a misguided business strategy that’s almost destined to become a case study.

Yup, I’m talking about Facebook.

I’ll spare you the history lesson in which Facebook slowly grows over 10 years to amass more than ONE BILLION users. Let that sink in for a second: One-sixth of the planet’s population has a Facebook account.

Imagine what a company could know and do, if it watched how ONE BILLION people behaved … what sites they visited most often … where they shopped … who their friends are — in short, what moves and motivates one-sixth of the planet.

On one level I’m absolutely OK with Facebook throwing away the opportunity to quietly watch its users’ behavior: I’ve read George Orwell, and 1984 terrified me.

On another level, though, I feel deceived. I signed up for a service that would help “connect with [my] friends.” That sure came in handy as I made friends in France and Germany and Sweden and Morocco.

But Facebook’s new motto is “connect with friends and the world around you.” That doesn’t seem so horrible, does it? The wrinkle is that, in Facebook’s Brave New World, I’m increasingly being connected with fewer friends — and more advertisers.

I’ll admit I’ve been a bit disgruntled professionally as I’ve spent hours developing useful and engaging content (to my mind, anyway) that no one will see … unless my clients pay to promote it.

But on a personal level, I feel downright let down. I no longer have the option to sort my friends’ posts by the most recent (instead of the ones Facebook deems most relevant). As a result I’m feeling more disconnected from the people I care about — and the world around me.

I’m also trying to make sense of the world Facebook is pushing. Does Facebook think I have herpes? Or are they recommending that I acquire it?

Facebook targeted marketing

Yup, this showed up in my news feed. Meanwhile, a friend who lost her dad to cancer did not. HELLOOO? Thank God my friend had my email address, so I still got the memorial service information.

The irony is that if Facebook stopped trying to manipulate and monetize every aspect of their platform, they’d gain far more useful insights into their customers’ real behaviors and preferences. And *that* would be priceless.

I have yet to disconnect from Facebook completely, but I’m working on it. On the plus side, Facebook has reminded me that there’s no substitute for real-life face time.

So … goodbye Facebook. And hello France, Germany, New York, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Orleans, Caledonia, Florida, Fiji, Venezuela, Argentina, and Peru!


    • Ooh! I can’t believe I left out Bulgaria!! Doh. I agree with you that Facebook has become a necessary evil, but I’m uncomfortable that it’s *feeling* increasingly evil. Grrr. But on the plus side, at least we still have WordPress. 🙂 Cheers to you, Mark!

  1. I look forward to seeing you in Australia. And I think your analogy and analysis are on the money (pun intended). What starts out as an idea with good intentions is sometimes enticed down the path of avarice; but we are not obliged to follow it. I think of social media as a smorgasbord – I take what I like and leave the rest. Has Facebook failed me? I don’t think of it that way. I’ll persevere with it as long as it serves a purpose. But I’m comforted by the feeling that I can live without it.

    • You’re very wise, Xpat. And you’re also one of the chief reasons I continue to hang in there with Facebook, too.

    • Thank you, Jim! I felt a bit stupid posting my screed against a free service, but I”m glad other people I respect (like you) are having the same experience. Grrrr. 🙂

  2. For some reason I’m not sure how I missed this post. Anyway I digress, I used to have a serious problem with facebook years ago to the point that I refused to be on it until a friend posted pictures of my eldest and I was kinda forced to go on it. Since I have become a user and reconnected with so many old friends. And that has been great, but sometimes I feel as if I have given in to peer pressure at times about what I post. It is my own fault of course and I too hate all the suggested posts. My time is precious!!!!!! Anyway I suppose I have become much more relaxed about it, but after this post it is making me rethink it all again. Food for thought….. Thank you.

    • I’ve been missing your posts too, Rochelle — even though I subscribe to your lovely blog. What a mystery! Well, all the more motivation to visit your blog directly every now and then.

      As for Facebook, you are so right: Our time is precious! That’s one of the biggest reasons I feel so conflicted about it. I feel like I’m wasting more time than ever scrolling past content I don’t want (and can’t opt out of), and less time actually interacting with my friends. But since I just added a brand new friend in Denmark, I think maybe I’ll stay on Facebook for just a little while longer. 🙂

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