The People v. Facebook

Here is the thing… we’re too high maintenance.

But here is another thing… these days, we can afford to be. Or can we?

Clearly, I’m not about to write a post about the economy. If that was the case I would not have made either of the two statements – not even jokingly… No, I’m talking about the one luxury we can all afford because it is oh, so free – at least for now and for the most part – social media.

As you may have noticed (and I posted about it before so hopefully you did 🙂 ) Facebook changed the layout of its home page / news feed and turned it into what most of us have identified as a wannabe Twitter attempt. The people did not approve. So Facebook issued a response to appease the people. But the response, as Kara Fisher writes on her blog on All Things Digital was less along the lines of “sorry guys, we’ll take it back” and more along the lines of “we hear ya, kinda, sorta… not really.

“The reality is that even if TechCrunch does write, not one but two posts, about Facebook redesigning the new home page in response to the millions who complained about it, the little give that Facebook gave was a placebo for the millions who still think that there is an democracy about social media that makes it lean towards anarchy more than anything.

We are high maintenance, we can afford to be, but even a high maintenance girl (or guy!) doesn’t get everything she (or he…) wants and he/she eventually needs to be rational and either argue a strong case or cease and desist.

I am a huge fan of social media. I love and am fascinated by the way it brings people together, for good or for evil. I love that it give people a voice when they would normally not have one. I love that it lowers barriers to entry for the “little guys” and helps nonprofit organizations, volunteer action causes and small business startups to make it out there.

But don’t be fooled. The tools we know and love are continuously reinventing themselves and they are figuring out a way to pull in money that will keep them afloat, help them grow to offer even more services and still be more than enough to take care of their employees’ salaries. Sometimes, we won’t like the reinvented versions of the things we are familiar with, but we really need to learn to do something besides clicking on a “thumbs up or down” poll, creating an angry, anti-Facebook (or whatever you’re complaining about) group, mass-emailing our friends and declareing victory.

Sure Facebook revisited its redesign when millions complained, but we shouldn’t think of it as a win for the democracy or anarchy that we think exists with social media. We should see it for what it was – simply, feedback. And of course Facebook listened… what business doesn’t? Perhaps if we keep that in mind we will learn hwo to give feedback that is truly constructive and not just angry-mobbish.Facebook, and all the other ones (forgive me… there are too many to list here) are in constant beta and it makes sense because social media is a collaborative, two-way street; however, the street is paved. There will always be a structure that is juuuust the right amount of flexible to allow for input, feedback and change.

The people win the battle. But Facebook is that other country… you know, the one that supplies the guns. They win. They have what we want and they can decide to give us as much of it as they see fit.


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