Yesterday someone who is a casual acquaintance of mine from the WKRN Nashville Is Talking days–a person I cannot even recall having met in real time–issued a general complaint about the contents of status updates on Facebook. As someone who once had the same complaint and is now a user of those games I was kind of struck by it.
If you play the games on Facebook you’ll notice quickly that the developers want you to post as many game-related status updates as possible. It amounts to free advertising for them and as a person who has more than once been involved in a new business I can’t begrudge them that. As a user of Facebook I do understand, though, that if you really want to know what is up with your friends you don’t care to know they’ve baked too many cheesecakes in Cafe World or need someone to fertilise their Farmville crops. Thankfully Facebook makes it very easy for you to hide the status updates from the various apps you don’t care about. (I confess to blocking any and all things to do with Mafia Wars, as I’ve decided I don’t want to bring more violence into my life.)
What made me wonder, though, about what some people think of friendships is that several commenters on the original complaint began to air their grievances against not just the games but also about various other types of status updates. Some didn’t want to see people posting about their meal or their workday. Others didn’t want to read about people’s children.
That’s what is starting to fascinate me about this whole Internet endeavour. Back when blogging was The Hot Thing the folks involved most deeply were more a literary sort and used to trafficking in words. Now that Facebook and Twitter draw from a larger cross-section it’s a different story.
I admit to having complained about those ‘Eating a sandwich’ tweets and status updates years ago when these avenues were new. But now, the more that I think on it, I’m fascinated by what people choose to tell others. I often wonder what the backstory is behind this or that bit of news. I also wonder why some people feel the need to talk about the mundane things like fixing a meal but avoid the deeper things, like worrying about the failing health of their parents.
As these socially-intense applications gain traction I find myself having a more live-and-let-live approach toward what other people deem shareworthy about themselves. The only things that bother me now are strident politics (which gets the poster hidden in my feed) and showy religion. But all in all I’m very glad–especially in my present circumstance–to see what is going on in the lives of people who’ve been gracious enough to share their time with me.