“Facebook isn’t real life!”

People have this view of Facebook where they think it somehow isn’t substantial, that it doesn’t “count”, that it isn’t “real life”. I think they are almost entirely wrong.

When I write anything on FTSOS, Facebook, or elsewhere online, I make it a point to not type a single word I wouldn’t also be willing to say to someone in person. Doing otherwise betrays a false bravado and that isn’t the sort of person I ever want to be. However, not everyone feels this way. Or, at least, they don’t act this way. For instance, I have had a number of people get into heated debates with me over Facebook and then, upon seeing me in person, they try to cool things off, occasionally even apologizing. My response is to consistently say that I don’t care that they were speaking harshly or that they were being rude or whatever. My view is that the reason they said those things is because they believe them. If anything, I’m happy they spoke what they think is true. I may think their beliefs are erroneous, even stupid, but I would rather read what they really think than read what they think is the nice thing to say.

There is an unfortunate reason why people change their tone (and not just with me) so quickly when they see their ‘opponent’ in person. The Internet amounts to a comfortable buffer which insulates people from many feelings of awkwardness, distress, etc. This causes people to place less value on the words they are willing to type versus the ones they are willing to speak. In other words, people believe, as I so often hear and read, that ‘Facebook isn’t real life!’ They think there is a fundamental difference between in-person interaction and online interaction. I think they’re wrong.

I’m not about to deny that there is a clear difference in dynamics between so-called ‘real life’ interaction and online interaction. There is. But that is the only difference in non-anonymous situations and it is not fundamental (due to the lack of anonymity). What a person says on Facebook and other online places still impacts the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and mood of a person sitting at the end of another connection. Right now, I mean right now, anyone reading this post is considering what I am saying; anyone reading this post is computing in their minds what they think and how they feel about my argument. Is that not real life? Is that somehow fake? Is everyone who sees this just pretending to exist?

None of this is to say that online interaction is better than in-person interaction. I think in-person interaction has many advantages over online interaction, including a wider array of dynamics. On the flip side, I think online interaction has its advantages, including the ability to formulate detailed points and stories and arguments. However, I think the people who scream that Facebook and other online media platforms aren’t ‘real life’ would be the same people decrying the ‘realness’ of telephone conversations back when they were still a new thing. They have a ridiculous argument – ridiculousness that is just as real whether it is said over a cup of coffee or on a status update.

Thought of the day

My love/hate relationship with Facebook has been very much trending towards the “hate” side lately. I would be fine with having a Facebook within my Facebook so I can Facebook while I Facebook, but don’t take away my friggin’ option to toggle between top stories and recent stories. I don’t need Facebook arbitrarily telling me what is relevant in my feed.

Didn’t we already know this?

A new study says older brains are less nimble than younger brains:

The elderly have a harder time multi-tasking than young adults because older people are far less nimble at switching neurological connections in their brains between activities, according to research released on Monday.

The findings of neuroscientists from the University of California at San Francisco add new insights to a growing body of studies showing that one’s ability to move from one task to another in quick succession becomes more difficult with age.

I thought this was already pretty clear. I don’t mean from the stand point of common sense – it is clear from the position, but evidence is important in actually knowing what is true. What I mean is that for the past several years Facebook has been open to everyone. Once the company did away with requiring school email addresses to sign up, the number of technologically inept people skyrocketed, primarily with old people. (As I’ve said before, “old” does not necessarily refer to age here.) It wasn’t too long until it became obvious that quite a few old people were unable to deal with Facebook like adults. From responding to other posts by making wholly new status updates to trying to keep their conversations straight between posts, links, and statuses, anyone who has been paying attention knows that Facebook is not the place for old people.

(Click to enlarge. If old, retrieve your reading glasses.)

Harvard twins cannot undue FB settlement


A federal appeals court ruled Monday that former Harvard University schoolmates of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg can’t undo their settlement over creation of the social networking site.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were savvy enough to understand what they were agreeing to when they signed the agreement in 2008. The deal called for a $20 million cash payment and a partial ownership of Facebook. A third classmate, Divya Narendra, was part of the settlement with the twins but did not pursue the second lawsuit seeking to undo the agreement.

Monday’s ruling upholds a lower court decision enforcing the settlement during the six years of litigation that grew so contentious that the dispute was dramatized in the Oscar-nominated film, “The Social Network.”

The settlement is now worth more than $160 million because of Facebook’s increased valuation.

As much as I have a love-hate relation with Facebook, this is good news. It’s nothing but manipulative greed and bitterness to go after more money here.

Thought of the day

Old people should be banned from Facebook. That doesn’t necessarily mean anyone over a certain age; that isn’t my definition of “oldness”. But the site certainly was better when it was only open to college students and therefore had a higher percentage of technologically competent people.

Not okay, Facebook

Facebook wants to once again screw with everyone’s personal information.

Facebook announced today in a letter to Congress that the social-media platform is moving forward with plans to give third parties access to user information, such as phone numbers and home addresses.

In a letter to Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.), who both expressed concerns over Facebook’s plan to make such data available, company officials reiterated their now-familiar pledge to leave it up to users to decide whether they want their personal contact information to go out to app developers and outside websites. Markey has previously said that “Facebook needs to protect the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn’t become Phonebook.”

I discovered a few weeks ago that my number was actually posted on my profile. Presumably it happened when I got a BlackBerry and added the Facebook app. I’ve looked and seen that other friends with smart phones also have their numbers available; I doubt most of them know. And now Facebook wants to take advantage of this fact. It’s horseshit. I’ve removed my number, and I never had my address up there in the first place, but this is much too far. Facebook needs to pull itself back. It has 500 million users – there’s plenty of ad revenue to be had. There is no need to give seedy companies access to this sort of information.

Facebook gets with the times

I know, I know. You wouldn’t think Facebook, of all companies, would ever be behind the times. But up until Thursday it was.

Jay Lassiter is no longer “in a relationship.”

Let’s clarify that: Lassiter, a media adviser for political campaigns who lives in Cherry Hill, N.J., is still with his partner of nearly eight years, Greg Lehmkuho. But since Thursday, when Facebook expanded its romantic-status options, Lassiter’s profile there echoes his relationship’s legal status: “Domestic partnership.”

It may not be a life-altering change. After all, you can call yourself anything you want on a social network. And Facebook is merely that.

But, Lassiter notes: “I’m no different from all those other Facebook users whose identity is tied up with their Facebook pages, for better or for worse.”

And so, he says: “It’s high time. It’s an affirming gesture. It’s sort of one tiny step for gays, but a giant leap for gay rights.”

Facebook’s addition of civil unions and domestic partnerships to the list of relationships its users can pick from came after talks with gay rights organizations, including GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

I just wish everyone could stop referring to organizations as being for “gay rights” and other such nonsense. I realize it’s a conveniently short phrase, but there is no such thing as “gay rights”. Or “black rights”. Or “white rights”. Or “straight rights”. There are civil rights for everyone. When one group is denied them, we’re all denied them. After all, how can I possibly have a “right” to marriage if my state and the federal government refuses to recognize that same right for another group? As it stands, most states only have marital privileges.

Anyway. I’m glad Facebook has caught up with the reality of a huge number of human lives. Maybe the rest of the world can do the same.

New Facebook setting

I guess this is why Facebook was down all last night.

Facebook finally provided a way to keep any random jerk in the café from hijacking your account. But you have to go out of your way to enable this protection, and you might have to wait. Still: Jump on this.

Facebook has at long last offered an option to use the encrypted “HTTPS” protocol, a feature it will begin rolling out today but won’t finish for a “few weeks.” You should check now if it’s available, and sign up as soon as it is enabled for your account. The performance overhead is minor—zippy Gmail, for example, uses HTTPS for everything—and it’s an important step to keep your Facebook account safe from being hijacked on an open or poorly secured wireless network.

I can’t access it yet, but if you can you’ll want to go Account>Account Settings>Account Security and then check off Secure Browsing.

How much is Facebook worth?

A lot.

Facebook Inc.’s valuation topped Amazon.com Inc., leaving the social-networking company behind only Google Inc. among U.S. Internet companies.

Facebook is valued at $82.9 billion on secondary exchange SharesPost Inc. and has jumped by more than 40 percent since mid-December. Amazon shares dropped 7.2 percent yesterday after a disappointing sales forecast, pushing its stock market value down to $77.2 billion.

With all that worth, you would think they would have completed their current maintenance about 6 hours ago.

Okay, I have to steal this one

via PZ