Blog Post

Why do we have Facebook Fatigue?

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!

93 Responses to “Why do we have Facebook Fatigue?”

  1. These days you can see millions of peoples actively participating on social networking sites because social networking sites are providing a great facility to enhance your ebusiness through ‘Social Applications’. Social Application provides you a platform to attract the users interesed in your products.

  2. kathy mcleod

    why can’t i get all my requests of my request board it’s been like that for 2-3 months no matter what i do i can not dot the ignore or edit. even a friend tried it and no go ssoo what’s up with the facebook board?

  3. facebook is dumb

    All social network sites are the same…incredibly boring and pointless and eventually they will all be left with millions of old dormant accounts. What is so exciting about creating a profile and adding a picture? Theres no excitement at all. Why would you want to post your pic anyway? Are you telling me your friends don’t know what you look like or where you live or how old you are? Totally pathetic really. Also, I really don’t understand why anybody would want to keep in touch with the clowns they went to school with a couple of years ago. I mean as far as I’m concerned I’ve moved on from that years ago and don’t want to be reminded of it. And if you use facebook to keep in touch with your family, GOD HOW SAD ARE YOU! Haven’t you heard of a telephone or just send an email direct to them, why do you have to contact them via facebook?

  4. In my opinion (with all the social networking sites we’ve seen so far) fatigue boils down to the issues of:

    1) Privacy (or lack thereof)
    With Facebook, I can limit my profile to “All My Friends”, and make sure I’m strict with who I do or don’t invite/accept as a friend… but surely even this isn’t intimate enough? I still have a partner, close friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, close family, relatives, and so on – all of whom I like, or need, to get in touch with, but usually about very different things.

    2) Time being wasted.
    I think a lot of people are perhaps missing the point of SN sites being an efficent communications tool (probably because Facebook has diverged from it with all the added extra, yet totally useless, bits and pieces) and hence users are getting frustrated with wasting so much of their precious time. Whether it’s from updating your own profile with stupid apps to look cool, being spammed and having to reject app requests, or stalking other users – none of it is constructive.

    There’s no doubt that the social networking concept is here to stay, but users are realising their basic need is simply a great looking site with conventional SN tools and far more flexible privacy/sharing controls (i.e. users get to choose exactly who sees what, right down to the individual level). These sites also need to start playing a more constructive role in our personal lives, instead of egging us on to waste time poking everyone – maybe then our workplaces won’t go banning them.

  5. There’s an obvious difference between the high visibility bloggers like Om, Calancanis, Arrington, Scoble and the rest of us….. That extends to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social network sites. These are the guys who have the high visibility and with that come all the invites and pitches.

    Most of the rest of us don’t have that problem. I’m not overwhelmed. The same applies to the amount of comments, just see how many are here…..

  6. The thing with Facebook is, is that, like anything else, takes a large initial time investment to find a handle on the in’s and out’s.

    If one joined a off-line networking they would be hard pressed to gain any value in just one session, they need to invest in coming back week after week, in order to gain connections, build friendships and the like.

    The same is true with Facebook and other social networks; you get out of it what you put in, whether you participate for fun or not.

  7. Biff,

    “this kind of subject is very tech related in the Web 2.0 sense”

    With such adept usage of the english language by all means you should throw yourself head first into this anthropological gold mine.

    But the sad thing is there are BRILLIANT PEOPLE , make BRILLIANT things and we are still sitting here talking about the same web app OVER AND OVER.

    This guy has all this talent and resources and he is wasting his blog on this pre-school type topics and thats all I was saying.

    Maybe go to a university research facility read a real computer science journal , or any science journal you will realize that there is much more to be reported than this.

    I agree that it should be tracked but not like this its just enough already.

    Maybe your a little green and thats why this sort of fluff still amuses you.

  8. Its funny to hear these “new media” types that have just come to Facebook. Facebook fatigue? Try being a college athlete before a huge game. I just graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and there were entire groups of thousands of students organized solely to poke the opposing quarterback or goalie before the Badgers played them. Result? Thousands and thousands of emails from Facebook saying, “You have been poked by…” Now THAT is fatigue, my friend.

  9. Jon Jarratt

    Is there something wrong with Facebook??

    My profile is behaving very strangely today for the first time. My inbox is someone else’s, and clicking ‘Profile’ often takes me to someone completely random. I have friend invites from several people I’ve never heard of. When I go to ‘Log in’, someone else’s email is pre-inserted…weird!

    Any thoughts?



  10. liquidcow

    The nightclub analogy is spot on. People are on Facebook to be seen, to show off about what exciting things they are up to or how succesful they are. It’s fine if you want to let your friends know how you’re doing, but I get invites from people I barely even know – including people I haven’t spoken to since primary school, my mum’s ex-students (who I’ve never met in real life), and various other people who I’ve either not met properly or wouldn’t speak to me in the real world anyway. I get the impression that some of these people only add you so that they can either have a nose at your profile and see what you’re doing, or so that you take a look at their profile and they get to show off what they’re doing.

    I was fed up with getting hourly status updates from people I couldn’t care less about, so I went and deleted everyone who I didn’t consider an actual friend.

    It’s worth noting to people that Facebook doesn’t notify anyone when you remove them as a friend.

  11. Nima,

    On the contrary, this kind of subject is very tech related in the Web 2.0 sense: how we use systems (badly or otherwise) is as important as what constitutes those systems. Facebook is a social application, and so any comment (for or against) on how it affects life is valid.


  12. Robert Miller

    It’s interesting that everyone seems to be ignoring wider, cultural issues that social networking sites create.

    What about lack of roots and the need to recreate the communities that we have decimated through car-use, insistance on privacy, desire to be “autonomous” (in the face of decreasing autonomy everywhere else) and prejudice (fear of crime, fear of the ethnics, fear of everyone else, fear of our own fear).

    What about the desire to accumulate friends in the same way that we accumulate possessions, trinkets, panini stickers – and what this says about our social skills and ability to form meaningful, adult relationships? Are we unable to grow up?

    What about our inability to let go, to give up the dream that we may become what we have always wanted to become (the result of years and years of advertising through Hollywood, television, glossy magazines, ritual, customs…), thereby making it really hard for us to jsut accept who we are, take responsibility and commit to our current job, partner, friends, community…

    All of the posts just seem to be ignoring these wider social aspects and focusing on trivia. Facebook is further evidence of our narcissism: of refusing to grow up and invest time in what really matters (people, society, environment, economy) and instead worry about facebook acquaria, how many facebook friends you have and whether you’re on anyone’s Top Friends list. Eejits.

  13. taservictim

    I signed up for Facebook, within a few days I got messages and emails from Bambi, Cricket, MissyHorny, MeLuvYu, some gay guys looking for love (in the wrong place)…

    Well, to me it started out as a spam generator. Just what I needed. My friends and I don’t need to twitter constantly anyway.

  14. ohigotchya

    Okay, we reject a lot of people and it hurts their feelings. And we get a lot of invitations. It’s a crowded nightclub. But this nightclub is so clean and efficient, you can eat a buffet right off the dance floor.

    Facebook’s success, I think, is because it is one of the most efficient, clean looking, amazingly-run websites out there. MySpace is corporate, slow, ad-infested, and a nuisance. I hope more people do defect from MySpace, as a lesson to all sloppy individuals out there:

    Keep your social network websites user friendly.

    And even if facebook begins to suck because child molesters are taking advantage of the fact no one uses their privacy settings… a Lexus is a Lexus. No matter how old it gets, the engine still sounds perty.