Is Facebook Making Us Into Lazy Friends?

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Image: Public Domain

I have been considering closing my Facebook account for a variety of reasons. I have been telling myself it is because of the company’s dishonesty, trickery, sneakiness, and liberal definition of privacy. They also use aggressive means to try monetizing their business with advertising, gaming, and selling of data, which are all rather obnoxious.

Of course we have control over this product. Although it is free, it is still a product and we are paying for it in some way. If I am in control over this, why am I considering canning the account instead of just ending my relationship with this company that I constantly complain about?

Facebook has become the only way I connect with friends (other than the few that live nearby). It is more than just a product because it is your social life, which is what makes it so brilliant and so dangerous.

So, this morning I realized the real reason I may be so uncomfortable with Facebook; it has allowed me to justify being disengaged from my friends. I don’t have to call, because I see a few things that are going on in their life on Facebook. Plus, I really have not been getting any satisfaction from using it lately. I know that it isn’t in my personality to really reach out to friends over a distance. And those distances have only grown in the last decade following high school graduation. But Facebook has made it worse by making me think it was okay to just settle for a few likes, because that’s what relationships are nowadays. But all relationships (romantic, familial, and friendships) take work.

What do you think? Does Facebook have this effect on friendships and the way we socialize? Is it worth closing altogether and go back to calling people and writing letters?

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The Risk of a Personalized Web and the RSS Solution

This morning, I watched an excellent TED talk posted by the Inter-tech Education blog¬†about how personalization of the web can block us from different ideas and sources of information. This type of thing is already happening on Facebook and Google, without us knowing about it. The presenter makes a call, to the big companies already doing this, for more transparency and control for users. I believe that what he calls the possible “web of one” is a bad thing that will separate us all rather than having the internet bring us together across the globe. I do not like the idea of personalization without my explicit input or authorization. One example of transparent personalization is the iPad reading app Zite, which allows readers to give a thumbs up or down to articles. Then the app tries to learn what types of articles you would like to read. This is no different, but the reader is a conscious participant. There are many other tools out there using this type of model.

I think another solution to this is RSS technology. With the death of Google Reader, we have had plenty of replacement services, Feedly being my choice. RSS gives you total control over what you subscribe to and what you read – no filters.

Do you think RSS fits in to this conversation? Do you see it as a viable solution for the masses? Do you care that Google and Facebook are personalizing your experience without telling you?

Watch the TED talk below. It is definitely worth your 8 minutes.