Why I don’t care about Facebook changes

I have to admit, I underestimated Facebook at first. As a User Support Specialist at Missouri State University, I was given the opportunity to beta test Facebook before it was released to everyone. You might remember that Facbook was only available to colleges in its infancy, and so the creators wanted to make sure it worked for colleges while at the same time we wanted to make sure we wanted it on our campus.

At that time, you had to have a .edu email address to create an account on Facebook, and the institution in question had to agree to let their students log in (else their email address wouldn’t have been able to create an account). That was all thrown out the window a year or so later when Facebook was opened up to high school students, then business users, then everyone.

I’ve seen every change Facebook has undergone since it was first shown to the public, and I’ve also seen the backlash and subsequent responses of the Facebook team as the community has struggled with a fluid service that is constantly undergoing changes. Every change, no matter how small, elicits an outcry from people who will quit the service if the change isn’t rolled back, followed immediately by a flurry of rumours that Facebook will soon start charging for its use. Everyone freaks out constantly about this free service that has set the bar for a successful social networking site.

And I just don’t care. That isn’t quite as flippant a statement as it seems, because I often wondered why I didn’t care. I’m not in love with Facebook (when we first tested it, I thought it was a rather shallow service and didn’t see the point–I especially disliked how locked down it was, a walled garden of social networking), but I certainly use the service to schedule events and parties, send out announcements to groups, and check in to see how my friends are doing and what they’re up to. So if I use it, why don’t I care? Why haven’t I joined the slavering masses, a’feared that my primary social networking service is going to be destroyed by megalomaniacal despots?

I guess because I never really took ownership of my Facebook page. Similar to my MySpace account, I saw it as complementary to my primary online presence and never came to rely on it. My personal website is my core, and these are just extra services to help me connect with people.

It is the relationships and lines of communication I have established with others that makes these services worthwhile, not their appearance, arrangement, or colours. To that end, Facebook has finally improved their messaging service to make it quick and reliable, it auto-imports my blog entries via RSS, and its group feature is pretty decent. I can find people easily and they can find me. Beyond that, I don’t care.

They can do whatever they want to the home page, the photos, and how the information is displayed on the screen. I generally find their changes to be acceptable and even pleasant down the road, and though I don’t particularly like the current iteration (having status updates be front-and-center like a Twitter feed; I particularly dislike that when I click “notes” on the left, I only see other people’s notes, and getting to my own is more difficult now), my life doesn’t exist on Facebook. My online presence isn’t centered there.

That’s why I made a website to begin with. I was tired of Livejournal and Xanga jerking me around, screwing with my stuff, so I sought out autonomy. If you get all worked up about social networking services jacking with your pages, maybe you need to move your web presence elsewhere. Climb over the wall, take some control back, and quit’cher’bitchin’. You don’t own Facebook and never will, so if you really want to take ownership and make something how you want it to be, go out and do it.

And along those lines, if you’re looking for a designer for your site, I can recommend a top notch one 😉 He’ll make you something beautiful and it’ll be all yours.

Ending Crossposting

For the last couple of years, entries to this blog have crossposted to a few different places. They automatically appear on Xanga and Livejournal, and I also have a blurb go up at MySpace when I publish something. Facebook picks up my posts through an RSS feed, but that’s not really crossposting and so isn’t addressed here.

I’ve decided to stop crossposting entries to Xanga, Livejournal, and MySpace. There are a few different reasons for this, but what it really boils down to is that

  1. It’s buggy and slows my site down, sometimes breaking things entirely, and
  2. I don’t think many people subscribe or read my blog through those sites.

If you do and would like to continue reading, there are a few options. I recommend foremost that you subscribe to the RSS feed. You can do this through any RSS reader, though I particularly recommend Google Reader myself. Some people use Netvibes, and that’s cool too I guess. There are a few others out there, so whatever floats your boat, just subscribe.

You can also visit the site directly. I usually update daily, Monday through Friday, though the time isn’t set.

If you can give me a compelling reason to keep crossposting, I’ll do it, but I don’t think there is one. Therefore, this will be the last post that shows up on Xanga, MySpace, or Livejournal.

Livejournal, and then Xanga, were my first blogging sites, but I can’t say that I’m sad to leave them behind forever. Adieu, adieu, adieu.

Is “Just Being” good enough for you?

My family moved to Missouri right after first grade. My dad was approaching retirement from the army and was required to serve a couple of years in Korea before they would let him go, and he decided that we should live closer to family when he got out. Therefore, when he flew away to the other side of the globe, my mother and I traveled to the Midwest to begin a new life. We lived in Battlefield for a year (second grade), and I really enjoyed it there, but my dad wasn’t satisfied when he returned. Our idyllic neighbourhood and relatively new house wasn’t good enough, and we didn’t live far enough out in the country. So he found us a new (much more expensive) house and we moved again.

After this, I didn’t really have any friends. There were a couple, but between the bullies and my parents’ fighting, I dove further and further into books. My friends were Tika Waylan and Tasselhoff Burrfoot; Athos, Porthos, and Aramis; Eliminster and Storm. I read fantasy fiction to escape, and so those stories have a very special place in my memories.

I am currently re-reading the DragonLance Saga, and confronted with the character of Raistlin, have spent a great deal of time in reflection. In him, I see the darkness within myself, particularly relating to my past and the man I have become due to my background and experiences. As a youth, I found a kindred spirit in Raistlin, though I was invariably drawn to Caramon because I wanted to be more like him: strong, handsome, desired by all the girls… but I was more like Raistlin. Sickly, weak, intelligent, mocked, pitied… and now, when I look back, I wonder how much of that darkness remains. And more importantly, should I be doing anything about it? Is there anything I can do?

I was reading an old friend’s blog yesterday who wrote that she has little ambition to actually get up and do anything, to go out in the world, to work or interact with people. A commenter stated that perhaps she needs to spend time learning to appreciate the world around her and appreciate herself… and maybe that’s right, but it still struck me as too passive. I’m invariably reminded of Joey Comeau, railing against a society that doesn’t seem to understand itself and doesn’t seem to care about its own ignorance. The general principle that you must become the change, that you’re as happy as you make up your mind to be, and that you should just do it. Not because some logo tells you to, or because that’s what people do. Look around you, who actually does those things?

We don’t because we’re scared. Of losing our jobs, our spouses, our minds… but someday, we’re going to have to face the darkness within ourselves. And, more importantly, we’re going to have to face the light outside and answer why we refused to step out, step into, and live.

MySpace is CrrrrrrrR-azy

I decided tonight to see how many of the people I graduated with (Hillcrest High, class of 2003) have MySpace pages. Specifically, I was looking for my old friend [Matt] Wilson from whom I haven’t heard in years. I tried to catch him on instant messenger once and I mailed him a wedding invitation, but since he attended a Christmas party I held in 2004, I haven’t seen/heard from him.

What surprised me is that there are not only eleven pages of people I graduated with, but that I have no idea who most of them are.

I neither recognize nor really know who 90% of those people were. Is it that my old friends are of a different, non-MySpacey demographic? Conversely, perhaps my memory is just that bad and/or I’m a jerk who doesn’t remember people.

I’ve never done anything with MySpace beyond making a profile and typing a brief paragraph about me (ending with a link to this site), nor do I intend to now. MySpace is one of the worst designed websites I’ve ever seen, and I can’t stand working with it. But the ability to connect with old friends (particularly if it can get me back in touch with Wilson) is really valuable.

In other news, I’ve spent some time this week writing emails to people and keeping up with my correspondence. I’m going to start developing an online presence more like I had a few years ago, if for no other reason than to read more (and more diverse) work than I have been recently. I’ve already been subscribing to some poetry LiveJournals, which has been really good, and I look forward to connecting with a network of writers in the near (3-6 months) future. I need to get back out there and both talking to writers and writing.