(Don't) Like

Is it because people are idiots, because Facebook are just being persistent, or am have I finally lost patience with the social network? In the last few weeks and months, the amount of “likes” that have been appearing in my Facebook feed has become incredibly impossible to ignore. Each day someone’s liked photo, or page, or company, or status, or comment have appeared in amongst actual updates that my friends have posted. Not only is it the “XXX has liked a comment” but also the “XXX has liked Pepsi”. I know this isn’t just me seeing this, but is it just my friends? Are they so blithely stupid to just be liking everything they see, all the time, and as such am I being bombarded not with Facebook’s ways of monetising their BILLION users but instead, being awakened to the internet illiteracy of the majority of my peers?

I don’t know why people click “like”. Well, actually I did – I liked a whole bunch of stuff, because in the old Facebook it was a quick way to build your profile. Remember profiles? It was the thing that gave you the chance to write stuff about yourself. Now relegated to a separate page, your “profile” only exists as a hangover, with Facebook focusing on your “timeline”, or essentially “the place all the stuff you’d like to forget goes to rest”. Timeline is nice, in theory, but not when you can scroll back to 2007 and see you’re tentative first posts on the site. Before a BILLION people could see it. I locked my Facebook down – you can’t even search for me, I don’t exist, and to be honest, neither should you.

But even locking it down like I have done doesn’t stop you from a) liking something on a page and b) being exposed to other people’s likes. And the sheer amount of them is astonishing.

The worst offenders are pages which say “like this if you remember Button Moon!” or “you’re a child form the 1990s if you remember The Racoons!” which is strange. Because with the internet preserving everything (even TUGS) you don’t have nostalgia. You have a fabricated sense of belonging – like the reams of teenagers who profess to like the song Summer of ’69 each time it comes on in the Garage, who are only screaming and yelling because the older and more impression-forcing older generations of students remember their cyclical ritual too. Seeing 340k people liking Rainbow doesn’t mean anything. Is it the people who make the pages who are at fault? Is it the people who are liking it?

No. In all likelihood, it’s me. Hi. I am annoyed at it because it’s so brainless. And I wouldn’t notice it if it weren’t for Facebook reminding me of it each time I log in. There should be a difference between sharing something and liking it – if I want to see what people want to show me, let them share it to me, not just throw up a list of stuff they’ve liked. I don’t blame Facebook though – if they suddenly have a way to catalogue what people like, they should emphasise this, because at some point they’ll sell that to an advertising man (if they haven’t already) and then use it to put (more) adverts into your feed. Which is something they’ve already started to do.

Intrusive advertising is also pissing me off – The “Pages you might like” feature, which uses 70% of my (iPhone 5, so larger) screen to tell me things I might like can piss off too – I do like Amazon. It’s great. I also like Audi. And Sega. And Cargo Publishing – but I don’t care to tell people that fact. 

Here's the biggest problem too - the BBC have been using Facebook a lot. So do several of the sites I like to read during the day. Facebook though, and it might surprise you, is their competitor. Facebook is the way people are supposed to find things, be recently has become the place to go to read things. The Guardian Facebook "app" which posts what you read onto your timeline is incredibly frustrating, and one I've actively avoided. And Facebook knows that for me to avoid it, it's more effort than to just click "Connect" - I did it with my Vimeo account and I instantly regret it because now I can't log into my Vimeo without having to use my Facebook account, which means I can't look at it in work (not that I would, of course). But once Facebook starts to really abuse this power, people won't be just reading your site via a link, but instead be bombarded with a Facebook advert before your own. Facebook could start asking you to pay to let your readers to your site. It's already started asking for payment to reach all the people who have brainlessly liked your pages, and it can only get worse.

The moment Facebook starts to use it's power as the global sharing network, sharing is broken.

You know what? The more I see this kind of thing on my Facebook account, the more I want to kill it. I’ve been close recently (deactivating for two weeks a while back) and not that it matters in the long term, but it actually felt liberating. And if it feels better to not have a service, then surely that's the site killing themselves.

Or are they? Am I just the minority? I don’t like the ubiquity of Facebook, it’s annoying and utterly asinine system, but obviously some people do like it – they like being able to comment on articles on websites without logging in, or having to sign up. So maybe it’s me – not you, or Facebook.

Why don’t we all just use Twitter? It’s much nicer.