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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Facebook Fatigue?

Yesterday the Toronto Star published a story about Facebook Fatigue.

Apparently, the web’s a buzz after a web report showed a declining number of people logging on to the site in the UK. The site seems to be losing traction with older users, and it’s growth is slowing as most people between 18-34 already have an account. It’s no secret that among Gen Y Facebook is considered an important if not essential communication tool. So what’s going on?

I think the issue lies in the fact that people are using the site in a way that it was never meant to be used. Facebook is an address book. No more, no less. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with an extended network of contacts, acquaintances and old school mates. It’s the lazy person’s networking tool and it’s meant to be quick and done at-a-glance.

It’s the onslaught of third party applications that really throw a wrench in things. They pull you to spend hours upon hours on the site. They can become quite addictive and once you start sliding down that slippery slope there’s really no end to the amount of time you can waste.

I, for one, despise third party applications. I find they clutter up the once simple and elegant profile page and make it look like, well…a mySpace page. That’s to say…tacky and visually unappetizing. And boy are they time consuming. So and So just bit you. So and so wants to know if you’re alike. And on and on.

I still check the site on a daily basis just to read the newsfeed see what’s new in my network and maybe shoot a message to a few friends. I’ve disabled my wall since I’ve added business contacts and colleagues and prefer have a bit more control over who sees what. (I know you can choose “limited profile” but to be honest, once you put something on your wall, you never really know who’s going to end up reading it.)

Anyway, I guess my point is of course you’re going to get overwhelmed if you’ve spent the last 8 days straight “biting” people on your list and filling out quiz after quiz. I don’t think Facebook is going anywhere soon. At least not until Google releases it’s social networking site alternative that complies with OpenSocial standards and everyone jumps ship. (Just a theory)

So if you’re Facebook fatigued, odds are you’re using it the wrong way. Here are some tips on using Facebook:


1) Don’t post on your own wall. When someone posts a message on your wall, respond on THEIR wall. Don’t write me arguing, I didn’t make this particular rule.

2) Don’t send people endless application invites. Trust me, if we see you using a cool application we’ll find it and install it. No need to be an Application Evangelist. It’s annoying.

3) Poke with moderation. I know “poke wars” were all the rage, but I’m pretty sure everyone’s over it. A poke every now and then is fine. Poking your entire contact list every single day is a step on the path to getting blocked.

4) Don’t upload embarrassing pictures of your friends (or yourself). It might seem funny now, but employers are using Facebook as a reference and that picture (especially if it’s tagged) could potentially cost your friend a job. Don’t believe me? Just ask Kevin Colvin.


You See, Kevin up there? Yeah, last November, Valleywag reported that he wrote his boss at Anglo Irish Bank, an email claiming he had a family emergency. Turns out he wanted to go to Halloween party. Someone he worked with spotted a picture on Facebook and sent it along to Kevin’s boss who was not amused. He replied to Kevin and BCC’d the entire office. Needless to say, he doesn’t work there anymore.

Just follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to having a pleasant Facebook experience.

Comments: 2

  • Cherrie

    March 23, 2008

    Facebook Fatigue – I’ll have to agree and disagree with you on this one! =P
    While I agree that there is a decline in the use and motivation for use of Facebook, I’m not sure that it can be brought down to third party applications? Is that what you’re saying? I personally don’t find the applications intrusive and are, at the very basic level – meaningless little functions, that may or may not tell you something more about your friends. I find the comparison with MySpace a bit confusing (though popular), as I just can’t see the resemblance! I abhor MySpace and still find Facebook very useful. I don’t like Bebo either.

    Also – no wall, no photos because your professional network is on there? Call me naive, but I have a tonne of my ‘professional friends’ on there, with my wall, with my photos avail to all my friends and networks… And it’s simply because I have nothing to hide. I’m not the type of person who would lie about taking sick leave and go on holiday, nor would I streak naked through the main streets screaming blasphemy and company-sensitive obscenities. If there are a few photos of me up there at a party or two – they were just regular parties that I’m sure my bosses/managers/colleagues have been to and they should know me well enough to say, “hey, Cherrie deserves to chill out for a bit”… So I’m just a bit puzzled. Are we afraid of our bosses knowing who we are because of their potential or reaction or are we somehow ashamed of ourselves?

    By the way, that’s not an attack on you or anything, I find these little idiosyncrasies in my own habits, for e.g. my blog URL is not on my Facebook profile, though most of my friends and bosses know I have one.

    Oh, amen to your four rules. But I think number 4 should be just out of simple courtesy, not because of some career/reputation repercussion. And… number 1 is ok if two people are having some sort of argument on your wall and you want them to take it elsewhere. =P

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