The State of the Facebook

facebook new1

Ever since I’ve deleted my Reddit bookmark from my browser bar (yes, I stuck with it), I’ve been spending a bit more time on the site that took its place. My auto-clicks in that area now lead me to Facebook, a place that’s getting increasingly strange as time goes on.

When it started, it was pretty fun. “What’s this non-tacky version of MySpace? You need a college email to sign up? Fancy!”

My friends and I joined, and we immediately friended all the hot girls we could find. Eventually it morphed into a medium for non-creepster contact, and you chatted with your actual friends. College lead to lots of new acquaintances and subsequent friend requests, but in the time since? Things have gotten a bit…odd.

Now it’s a site I rarely update because I couldn’t possibly think that any of these people I knew once upon a time care about what I’m eating for breakfast. Or to see the photos from my last trip home. Or that some article I wrote is getting a bunch of pageviews. Why would they care?

book new

Well, 47 people care at least!

But people DO think others care, and strangely enough, some actually do. There will be one of those breakfast posts with 20 people commenting “Yum!” underneath it.

When there’s a news story that pertains to one of the 20 or so people on the site I’m still actually talking to in real life, Facebook can be interesting. But what about my OTHER 437 friends?

My newsfeed is now a bizarre combination of random thoughts from people I haven’t spoken to in weeks, months or years and a bunch of ads from either places I actually like, or places I don’t in the least. Here are the top ten news stories in my feed right now:

1. A girl I worked with at Best Buy seven years ago talking about her camping trip.

2. A friend of a friend I don’t particularly like talking about a sports team I don’t particularly care about.

3. My childhood friend’s little brother whom I literally haven’t seen in person since he was in first grade talking about changing his guitar strings.

4. A kid from my high school I talked to perhaps four times ever posting pictures of an antique gun

5. My roommate’s ex-girl-he-dated-for-three weeks that even he’s no longer friends with posting about SXSW.


Look at all the fun you’re not having!

6.  A link from Unreality’s Facebook page that has eight likes and one comment despite the fact we have 145,000 fans.

7. A girl I thought was cute in college who now has two kids and is posting about free Dairy Queen Day.

8. The daughter of my mom’s friend posting a picture of her grocery receipt.

9. A dim kid I went to junior high with who doesn’t understand that hashtags don’t work on Facebook. #almostfriday

10. The girls gym teacher at my old high school saying that she’s “having a rough day.”

I have to scroll down for three full minutes to find someone I would even consider remotely relevant to my life. And what’s my actual friend up to? “Chillin.” Riveting.

I know what you’ll say. Why don’t you just delete them all? I did, for a while. I went through a culling process of people that I deemed even more irrelevant than the ones I’ve mentioned, if you can imagine that. But all these people friended ME, and I’d feel like a dick for deleting them, as they’re not doing active harm to me other than perhaps killing a few of my brain cells.

Really, it’s sort of fascinating to watch what Facebook is morphing into. At my age now, it’s this bizarre fishbowl of past figures from my life that any other generation would have probably just forgotten about.

But not us. Not with Facebook. We now have this eternal log of everything that’s happening in these people’s live if they’re the frequently updating type. If trends continue, I could watch the entire lives unfold of the girl I sat next to in college for a semester or the guy I worked with that one summer or the girl I awkwardly asked to a school dance that one time.


Face obscured to protect the innocent.

It’s already happening. How many people you no longer actually care about have you watched get married or have kids right on your newsfeed? It’s fascinating. It’s all completely useless information of course, but the fact that you can do this seems like something out of Black Mirror, even if we all take it for granted.

I think Facebook is completely useless for anything important. My real life friends and I talk to in real life. Promoting my website is pointless as Facebook drowns us out with those paying big bucks for prominently placed ads. Rather, it just becomes this odd window into people’s lives that are quickly becoming strangers. But now, and this has happened a few times, if I run into someone on the street I haven’t seen in years, the conversation goes like this.

“Hey, I saw you got engaged on Facebook!”

“Yeah! And I saw you moved to Texas.”

“Your fiancée is cute!”

“Isn’t it your birthday this week?”

Or something along those lines. The point is, with enough information fed into the site, we can feel like we continue to know these people even when we don’t. I don’t talk to nearly anyone from my high school anymore, but I’ll be damned if I can’t rattle off what 30 of them are up to these days, and they could probably do the same for me. It’s really weird.

Facebook isn’t useful, but it’s an interesting collection of non-interesting personal crap from strangers the site makes you feel like you still know. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it seems like it’s only going to get stranger over time.

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  1. You’re doing it wrong.

    First off, you don’t have to delete all of the random blasts from the past, just hide them. Hide every. single. one. Any game or stupid bs from apps, block all from those apps. (Facebook makes it very easy to do this from any post you see.)

    Then, the more you interact with people, the more you will see from those people. Eventually, if you use it often, you will only see what you want to see. I only see close friends and their happenings on my feed. Facebook adapts to you overtime. If stranger dangers from highschool want to stalk my page, more power to them. For me, Facebook is a great place to keep in touch with my actual friends. (Of course I live in the south so all of my friends are pretty spread out. Not like I can just stroll on over to their houses or meet up with them for a beer after work.) I never ever see game invites or bullshit religious/political posts because I have hidden all of those crazy fuckers. Makes it much more pleasant.

    Also, it’s not pointless to post site content to Facebook. The more people comment/like/share, the more they will see of your page, whether you pay for ads or not. Plus anytime someone does interact, it will show to at least some of their friends. Thus spreading your audience further. The pages I want to see, I rarely miss a thing from because I interact with them regularly.

    For me, Facebook is the new email. From the ease of contacting people you only know the names of, to the event planning and even business deals.. Facebook makes everything so much easier.

    1. Yeah I’ve hidden my fair share, but I should probably keep going.

      It’s just frustrating to have so many fans but have Facebook shove your content somewhere it’s only seen by 0.8% of them.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Love your website and I’ve been following it for a few years now, I looked for a email link and didn’t find one. I just wanted to let you know something is broken today. The background is white and the text is showing in times new roman. I tried chrome and IE 10 both show the same thing.

    Oh and BTW I left you a tip in your Torchlight 2 article a few weeks ago… (user name Wurm)



    P.S. On topic, I’ve never used facebook or myspace and only have a google+ account for youtube, everything on it is blank. I hold the opinion that social media is the devil, and I work in IT.

  3. Honestly, Facebook has been a huge part of my success (? hahaha) as a writer. Getting “likes” and bringing in traffic is a big part of why blogs keep people as writers, and if it wasn’t for a cavalcade of (at times, decent) Facebook friends, I am convinced I wouldn’t have lasted five seconds in this field. If your feed is boring, be the one things that makes it interesting. And if Facebook helped convince even one person to buy your book, Facebook has helped. I feel you about how trite it all feels, though, definitely.

  4. I totally agree. I hate the Facebook Edgerank (determines how many people see your posts). You just have to do things that get people to comment or like it. Once they start, they will see everything and it becomes a better community.

    Posting your articles with just articles name as the description does not encourage interactions. Why not ask a question or give a comment about the article you can’t get from the site. You have a gillion followers.. you should be getting more. Give more, get more. I run a profile for my job with only 3k followers (we have a very specific demographic) and get around 10-50 interactions each post, with no advertising.

    I’d suggest posting more pictures from articles with links in the captions, plus a tagging strategy when you mention tv shows or anything else with a page. (And make a cover picture to look like you’re sorta trying.)

    Sorry, I’m a search marketer..

  5. Pro tip: create a professional page for your followers to like and subscribe to you. this should contain just that stuff you want to share with those that follow you on unreality, or forbes, or whatever else you have. then go through your personal facebook and remove the people that you either don’t care about or just don’t know who they are (but be sure to tell those that are fan know about the professional page).

    i’ve seen this dynamic quite a bit with actors and other people, should work for you as well.

  6. Oh, and honestly, feeling like a dick is meaningless because they probably won’t even notice that you deleted them. if you really care, put up a public message that says “i’m cleaning my friends list and might accidentally delete someone. just send me a friend request”, and if it’s someone you dont’ care about, ignore the friend request or redirect them to the professional page.

  7. I think what I hate more is the sponsored ads.

    Seriously Facebook, you are probably tracking everything I do and look at, am I likely to buy a £70,000 Land Rover???, my rare FB status is usually something to do with Ghostbusters action figures or moaning about how Michael Bay needs to stop ruining Transformers.

    I think you are missing your demographics a bit…

    Now I think about it, I dont think Ive had a single sponsored advert for spiderman comics. Weird.

  8. Give your link posts better descriptions or at least something besides just the name of the article or ‘here’s this’. If you want them to get interactions, you have to give your audience a reason to take action beyond the click.

    Also, .. creating a whole new ‘pro page’ is just going to complicate your shit even more. Unless you’re having problems with fan/grandma crossover, this is pointless imo.

  9. There are some uses for facebook, although I know very few. I’m involved with the local music scene in my area so the option to create events on facebook has kind of replaced the new show flyers of yester years. Other than keeping track of local concerts, ya facebook has just turned into spam.

  10. I have no facebook or twitter. I swore off reddit months ago. THIS is the biggest community I belong to on the internet, and I like it that way. You should be proud, Paul. You’ve facilitated a strong community here on this site.

    Also, once again, I apologize tremendously for past instances of me personally being a douche bag on this site. I was going through a rough time and being a real keyboard warrior to take my frustrations out. Real healthy, right? I’ve since found more proactive outlets.

    Thank you again for the quality and content of this site.

  11. I wholeheartedly agree.

    I permanently deleted my facebook over three years ago, though I was dragged (kicking and screaming) back into creating a new profile about a year and a half ago. The thing is, in that time I’ve lived on three continents (aside from the one I grew up on). So now my feed is filled with a very large contingent of strangers from all over the world, who I had one crazy night with (we had to be friends so we could tag each other!). Most people in my feed don’t live in the same country as me, and only about 10% in the same country. Most of my feed is in foreign languages (that I don’t understand), and I find the whole experience extremely unrewarding.

    It also creeps me out when people know what I’ve been up to. In a year and a half I’ve updated my status about three times, and added about 60 photos.

    I detest how much of a necessary part of life the site has become. Because it’s hella boring.

  12. you are totally right. I mainly use it for organising things with friends seeing as everyone I know uses it.

    My girlfriend uses it to stalk other girls I know and make herself feel like sh*t and sometimes better haha.

    Facebook is pretty useless.

  13. ” I don’t talk to nearly anyone from my high school anymore, but I’ll be damned if I can’t rattle off what 30 of them are up to these days, and they could probably do the same for me. It’s really weird.”

    This is precisely why I like facebook. So that I can keep track of what other people are doing, even if I don’t talk to them. I might not still “know” them, but I do find it nice to know what they are up to.

  14. Great article.

    I just hide things and people from my news feed and spend most of my time reading from groups I belong to. It’s just a passing hobby for me now, and I admit to not liking it or participating as much as I used.

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