Friday, 15 April 2011

Why Do People Keep Complaining About Facebook ?

Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch
Here's a little joke I got from wikipedia:
An old Jewish man riding on a train begins to moan: "Oy, am I thirsty; oy, am I thirsty", to the annoyance of the other passengers. Finally, another passenger gets a cup of water from the drinking fountain and gives it to the old man, who thanks him profusely and gulps it down. Feeling satisfied, the other passenger sits down again, only to hear "Oy, was I thirsty; oy, was I thirsty".
To Kvetch is to complain in Yiddish. It is said that Jews never cease to kvetch. As is told in this joke, which I had heard since I was small at the dinner table being told by all of my uncles at least once a year, the guy complained when he was thirsty and then complained because he wasn't thirsty anymore.

It seems to be contagious though as the whole of Facebook now kvetches about every single thing they can on Facebook. Probably passed on by the founders of Facebook to everyone who uses Facebook. This phenomenon is clearest and brightest when Facebook decides to change some of its features or the way things look on the social networking website. All of a sudden hundreds of groups and events appear with millions of people complaining about how they want things to work the way they used to.

Eternal Change
"I think every change that we've ever made, ever since I was a child — 100 years — every change has been good for the people." - Walter Breuning
Walter Breuning - World's oldest man dies at 114 years old.
Like Mr Breuning - who, unfortunately, recently passed away - said: Change is good. Facebook has been changing, evolving and adapting as it grows older just like humans and technology have been doing for millenia. 
Another things Mr Breuning said:
"My God, we used to have to write with pen and ink, you know, (for) everything. When the machines came, it just made life so much easier."
Imagine if this wasn't happening. We would still be living in caves, we would still be having to make fire by rubbing stones together. 
Facebook started as an exclusive club for Harvard students. Imagine if it had not changed since then. You would not be using it right now - unless you're a Harvard student of course. Change has been part of it from the very start. Yet, people keep on clamoring for the days of old.

2006 to 2011
Facebook has seen many changes since 2006. Facebook apps didn't exist at first and it took a long time for them to become anything more than a pass-time. The first applications were things such as: Interview yourself, hugs for free, Sketch Me...
Interview yourself was just an application that asked you questions you were supposed to answer and it then put it on your profile. Hugs for free let you sent little cartoony characters which hugged each other or smiled to people for birthdays or loved ones. Sketch  Me did this with your profile picture:
Other things that changed were the way groups work, the wall, your private information and things that didn't exist at all were the chat and the home feed. 
Now you have games like FarmVille and CityVille which have not only taken kids' lives over, but also the productivity of some of the major corporations in the world who have had to ban Facebook at work. Facebook has more than 500 million users now and has been estimated to have a worth of more than $50 billion. None of this would have been possible if Facebook didn't adapt to the times.

Facebook didn't start as the major powerhouse it is now. When it started there was MySpace which was massive for a Social Network at the time. MySpace was the epitome of what social networks were supposed to be. All the other social networks were secondary to MySpace which had a following in the tens of million at the time, which people thought would not be surpassed for a long time.
What Facebook offered in contrast to Myspace however was a simple-to-use & intuitive interface that connected people in a very simple way and allowed people to easily share many things. It did not have all the fancy customization options MySpace had, which allowed you to change background colors along with putting up your music and tons of pictures on your main page. Facebook separated everything fancy from the everyday wall and profile. 
Facebook was seen as clean, while MySpace became something for kids.
Some other competitors also popped out at the time but most of them have all been forgotten and lost in time.

A few exclusive competitors such as aSmallWorld still exist, but they do not compare in size or reach to Facebook at all. That's also what makes them 'special'.
However, some other countries like China and India do have their own social networks which are quite big. The only difference is Facebook's international appeal, which these do not have. Also China has banned Facebook, so that also adds another reason why there actually is a Chinese social network.

Complain and Forget
I had heard about forgive and forget a long time ago. A concept known to most of you probably. In it simple form it is basically to forgive someone for their wrongdoings and forget about them, which allows you to start anew. 
With Facebook I have learnt a new concept, the one of "Complain and Forget". This one is about Facebook users who complain about all the changes Facebook makes one year, create and join protest groups and then a month later forget all about it as they got used to the changes. Then, the next year or the next changes, whichever come first, they do the same thing again. The difference is that they do not only forget about the changes that have been made, but even forgot that the first changes were ever made and do not ask Facebook to restore things to how they were originally, but rather for Facebook to restore things to how they were after the first changes had been made. They want things to be the way they had previously campaigned against.
This concept is very strange to me, but that's how some people are apparently.

Is Facebook Evil?
Of course, before I finish this post I have to touch upon the fact that some people consider all big companies and organizations evil. I believe I need to disabuse people from this thought process. All companies are not Evil, all they want is profit. Facebook is the same and as it stands they need to keep making their changes to please more and more people and to attract an even bigger crowd. The bigger they are, the more money they can make. 

Why do people keep complaining ? I don't know, but hopefully for them, that is their only worry in the world. Then their lives must be amazing. If not, they should find something else more important to complain about, like crime in the neighborhoods or how people in their country are starving or how the middle class they probably belong to is slowly disappearing.

And in case you want to read a bit more on social networks, here's an interesting read: Reflections on Social Networks

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