… is filled with social site web apps.
Look! One of my friends has installed SuperFunAwesomeWall! To read the cool stuff they have written I need to install it! But wait! Another friend has installed AwesomeFunSuperWall, which is not the same application… and, uh, a third friend installed FunSuperAwesomeWall… and another FunAwesomeSuperWall… okay, what the hell… And I’ve been bitten by a vampire, and a werewolf, and a zombie, and a dog, and I’m in bat country. I’ve been asked to join an entourage, a pimp squad, and a sports team, no less than three movie applications, and some trivia. I’ve been Poked, SuperPoked, MegaPoked, SexyPoked, and CanadianPoked, could someone please stop with all the damn poking? I’ve had myself compared to other people in every possible way, and I now know which superhero (Marvel and DC), L Word character, Simpson, Lost castaway, Friend, drunk, color, type of Irish Republican, chocolate, Spice Girl, assassin, and dead Russian author I am. Among a great many other things, and while all those things might be true, one thing I can say with absolute certainty that I am is someone who has almost entirely stopped logging in to Facebook.
About the only time I go there anymore is when I get an email that someone new has requested to link up, or on the odd occasion that I remember I have an account and decide I want to check and see if any more people I forgot I used to know have appeared. The sad thing about most of those apps, besides the fact that they are horribly repetitive, is that most of them are crap. Seriously, and annoying to boot.
Perhaps its just me… maybe I just don’t get it… but there really doesn’t seem to be much “social” is all these social networking sites. In fact, the social aspects of direct messaging and message boards seem to be the hardest parts of the sites to find or use as they are drowned out by ads and apps. One day, I was logged into Facebook using my Heroespowers to try to gain another level when I asked myself, “Why? Why the fuck am I doing this?” So I tried to dig through the app to find the community, the social part that should exist beyond spamming all my friends with useless power messages and invitations to install the app and join the spam, and I couldn’t find any. I searched all my Walls (I had 3 installed in addition to the default one) and the only messages I found were the equivalent of chain letters. I removed a good 90% of the apps I had installed (I’m a sucker for trivia) and sent out a couple of messages to some friends. After a few days I realized that using Facebook for anything social beyond finding people to begin with was pointless. Once we found each other and exchanged contact info, dropping “back” to email or AIM was so much easier than using Facebook. And more reliable too.
“Why have Facebook email me every time I get a new message when I can just have people email me directly?” I found myself wondering. I suppose if I were famous, I could use sites like Facebook to have a “public” face that people could talk to while hiding my “true” email address. But I’m not, and everyone I currently talk to I feel safe giving my real email address to.
Of course, I realize that my gripes with these sites are largely about the efforts they have chosen to make in regards to traffic and ad revenue. These aren’t pay sites, after all. But then again, I’d say that overall their efforts are failing. When was the last time you clicked an ad on Facebook or MySpace or some other social network site? Just this instant I logged in to Facebook and the ads presented to me as I navigated ignoring all the random spam messages were for AllPosters.com, some weight loss thing, a local college bar, a website to find out who’s searching for me on the Internet, and upromise. The one thing all five of those have in common is that they are things I wouldn’t click on. Only one had any interest to me (AllPosers.com) but I already know about the site, have it book marked, and use it every now and then. However, had it been some game advertisements, TV shows, movies, or something of that nature, I might have clicked on it. The one thing all of these social networking sites suck at is directing the proper ads to the proper people. They need a control panel where I can choose to get video game ads but not weight loss ads, to get TV shows but not college loans.
And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m picking on Facebook, I have a MySpace account as well that I use a little more often (its not too horrible at browsing and finding new musical insterests). Recently that launched their application platform, and its largely full of the same crap as Facebook, with, in my opinion, the only exception being the MetaChat application launched by the people of MetaPlace. It is fairly nifty, except… its also fairly useless. Sure, I can now put a chat room on my profile page, but how often do I hang out on my own profile page? How often do people visit my profile page? Do I even really want to chat with the random people who cross my profile? Everyone I want to chat with, I tend to give them my email address, or my AIM account and we chat elsewhere.
Tomorrow… more on social networking and Internet communities…