Why the facebook changes irked me, and it's not what you think.

This week has been an explosive week on the facebook front. Their user base was worked in to a tizzy in response to some upgrades the company is doing to be competitive with Google+. One thing is for certain, people REALLY take facebook personally.

We see change around us all the time. Services we use change. They are always going to be looking for ways to grow share, and investors in these services want them to grow share too. We want companies and services we like to succeed. But what if the only investment we have in something is our time and energy? I liken it to spending the day building a sand castle only to have the tide wash it away. But facebook didn’t wash away our sand castles, they just changed them a bit, and the reaction was spoiled child silly and made me want to avoid the environment for a few days. As someone said to me on Twitter, these are first world problems, and frankly I was embarrassed to be part of the first world this week.

It seems the #1 complaint people have with facebook is that our info is not private and that facebook makes money off of us. Well, I hate to tell you this, but our info isn’t private. Every single thing we do in every store is watched; our purchasing behaviour is watched and sold to companies that can build profit from it. There are even people studying our eye movement in stores to see how we shop, what aisle we’re most likely to next go to, what demographic we fit in to.

But what is it really all about?

In a nutshell – They want to know what’s most likely to be our next purchase and how they can be the ones to sell it to us. And THAT is IT.

The only value our personal information has is to know how to leverage it to make more money from us through our purchases or in facebook’s case, our presence, period.

So why do we fear this so much given it is the consumer climate of the day and really started with the corner store owner 2 centuries ago, who wanted to make sure he had everything his customers wanted and needed so he could be the one to sell it to them.

Here’s the basic reason I am not offended by this: They can study my behaviour all they want, they can assume that because I like baked beans I also like lima beans and they’d be wrong. They can plaster the side of my page with ads for lima beans and it is never going to make me want to buy lima beans.

What the outcry this week translated to for me, was that people don’t feel they have any control over anything, and they want control.

But here’s the thing – you have the ultimate control because you are the one with the wallet. You get to decide. You get to decide with money and you get to decide with your time. If you don’t like what facebook is doing, then leave facebook, stop clicking on their ads, stop being one of their numbers, but, don’t ever assume because you posted your best baked beans recipe on there that it was private. Nothing you post on the internet anywhere is truly private, and that has been proven over and over again.

Why did this response irk me so much? Because there are REAL WORLD PROBLEMS we’re faced with these days. Climate change will kill us, and probably pretty soon, if we don’t get it under control. Millions of people are starving in Africa. Species are falling off at record rates because of our relentless desire to acquire.

I wish the world populace (or at least the facebook populace) would get over themselves just for one moment and get that fired up about things that really do matter. I don’t think anyone recovering from the tsunami in Japan or the drought in Africa or the dissolution of leadership in the Arab world would feel too sorry for us because facebook made a few changes. I don’t think they would care if anyone was using their personal information either; all they care about is how they’re going to survive another day. How would you feel if the cards were reversed?

I am wishing you a week of perspective and tolerance and outreach, and perhaps even a week of generosity. The more you give of yourself, the less you feel things are being taken away from you.


1 comment

  • dankitti


    And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually. I heart Jimi Hendrix!

    And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually. I heart Jimi Hendrix!

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