Facebook, one has to admit is a great time sink. Given how much you have to do to just manage your Facebook life, it is hardly a surprise; some organizations are taking a draconian approach to them. Jason Calacanis has declared Facebook bankruptcy. What is prompting […]

Facebook, one has to admit is a great time sink. Given how much you have to do to just manage your Facebook life, it is hardly a surprise; some organizations are taking a draconian approach to them. Jason Calacanis has declared Facebook bankruptcy. What is prompting such extreme reactions?

Bankruptcies often come as a result of excess and poor management. That sadly seems to be the case, for those who are getting fed up with Facebook. And the truth of the matter is that we are to blame.

We are not using the privacy settings of Facebook, and are too polite to say no to invitations from people who want to friend us. No wonder, the social environment is starting to resemble a crowded nightclub. (You go to clubs to be seen, not talk.)

However, if you treat Facebook more like a dinner gathering, inviting only the closest friends and family, it can be a rather efficient way of staying in touch.

What we need is something more intimate, more private. It’s not about the number of friends, but it’s about connection. (My previous post about Privacy also touches on some of these issues.)

Lets put it another way: do you go hang with hundreds of people, accept every invitation for coffee or try out everything that is new in your real world? Do you invite everyone you meet to your house for dinner? So why would you do that in Facebook?

The second problem is that we are treating Facebook as a tool for communication (my inbox on FB is filled with invites for conferences and other junk, just like my email inbox) when we should be treating it as a tool for real time interactions. RTI tools are those that save time and yet let us remain connected to those who matter the most.

Facebook if used properly, in one quick glance can tells us what our friends are doing, new photos, who has broken up, and who needs a little wink and a smile. Instead we are spending time declining invitations from random strangers, or trying to deal with events that we are unlikely to attend anyway.

In the euphoria around Facebook, many of us (and perhaps Mark Zuckerberg as well) forgot the real premise (and promise) of Facebook. In their overarching ambition to become a Microsoft like entity, Zuckerberg & Co. forgot that what makes them great is not the apps, but the ability to create a private, fun, controlled and easy to use environment. Then bankruptcy or bans won’t even be an issue.

Tip: The best way to ensure the fidelity of your social network is by taking a look at the names and numbers in your mobile phone’s address book. It kind of tells you who matters the most to you!

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  1. Jeremy Pepper Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Or, you can just accept people you think of as friends, or whom you like as friends.

    There’s no reason you should or have to accept every invitation. I have invites sitting there right now that are going to continue to sit there.

    Same with LinkedIn.

    The problem isn’t that there’s a bankruptcy. The problem is that people don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. We could probably all take a lesson from ClubPenguin – where you can see kids literally turn their backs on people that don’t interest them.

  2. Clay Loveless Sunday, July 29, 2007

    What you’re describing sounds kind of like LinkedIn :)

  3. David Mackey Sunday, July 29, 2007

    I like Facebook and haven’t had these bankruptcy issues. I use it for perhaps 5-20 minutes once every several days. Its not a big time commitment and as you said, allows me to keep up with others.

  4. ColinPape.com Sunday, July 29, 2007

    I think you media pundits are forgetting that most of us don’t have 4,000 people wanting to become our friends, and we don’t seem to have invitations to trendy events flooding our inboxes.

    For us, Facebook seems to work just fine.

    I have a feeling that Zuckerberg’s intended audience was not the 10 people out there who are geek media moguls like you, Calacanis and Scoble.

  5. Daniel Gibbons Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Do you think it’s simply because Facebook works in the college environment for which it was designed, but not in the broader world?

    College is generally about broadening both one’s horizons and one’s circle of friends. Post-college, most of us have an established circle of friends, and plenty of ways of communicating with them. Almost by virtue of its design, Facebook is about the fleeting and the superficial, so why are we surprised when it descends further into meaningless, immature inanity?

    On top of all of these grumpy reservations I’ve yet to see a compelling case for how Facebook offers any unique value when it comes to business communications

  6. Om-
    You and Calacanis have similar complains and I can’t help but feel that it is because you two are a rare breed: tech blogger media types. Even Scoble has admitted to being this. I’m sure you guys get way more invites/notifications/friend requests than your average Joe.

    I work in Silicon Valley at a Web 2.0 company and have many friends on Facebook but do not have your problem. I don’t feel overwhelmed with Facebook, it doesn’t take daily tasks to keep my profile in order and I’m not being spammed with app/friend requests.

    I do have to say, though, that I’ve been pretty selective about who I add as a friend and more recently have been opening my network up a bit.

    I don’t think Facebook has gotten anything wrong.

    My suggestion to you is this: create 2 different profiles. Have 1 for your media persona which you use for blogging/media purposes. Create another private one you keep where you only add family and close friends and a select few colleagues. You’ll have a much better time with your latter profile. Trust me.

  7. Robert Dewey Sunday, July 29, 2007

    I finally joined Facebook after getting several invitations from people that I’ve only corresponded with a couple times – most likely because I was in their address book.

    I uploaded my address book and sent out about 100 invitations… so far, only 30 of them have actually added me. The ones to add me the quickest are those with the fewest friends (i.e. less content to manage).

    You were on my contact list, Om, but I suspect that you’re going through bankruptcy right now :)

  8. I agree, for the most part. A friend asked me to join, as he had set up a meeting page for a few of us who are trying to start up a local LUG. I’ve followed the philosophy of adding only those who I already know and want to be in touch with as friends. I go for quality over quantity as well. Otherwise, its not a useful medium for me.

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