Facebook, we need to talk about our relationship. But don't freak out -- I'm not dumping you. Yet.
Look, I like you. I really do. I mean, when we first met, I was really into you. You were so much less gaudy and stupid than MySpace. You helped me get in touch with at least a dozen friends I had lost contact with. And you had some nifty features that I really enjoyed. But now, the magic has faded. You're still useful, but newer, simpler services like Twitter have taken your place in my heart. And I know it's not fair to ask you to change, but screw it. Here are five changes you need to make to keep me.
1. Dislike: It's really cool that we can like things. But why can't we dislike things? Yes, there's a browser plugin that allows this, but it's no fun if my friends can't see my dislikes, and there's no way I can convince all of them (especially the ones I dislike...) to install the stupid thing. It needs to be integrated. I mean, you can't have one without the other, right? I'm hoping enough "disliked" posts might passive-aggressively tell some of my "friends" that they should un-friend me. And it's not just about pouring on the haterade. If a real friend posts "Sick with swine flu, might die" on their wall, I want to be able to express my sympathy by hitting "dislike." I just don't have the time to type "Hope you don't die!" when my stupid peppers need harvesting in Farmville.
2. Fix/remove the comment back door: I appreciate the privacy options of Facebook. I mean, my ex-wives are on there and there's no way I need them seeing what I am up to in my pictures (much less my potential bosses...) But you stupidly, stupidly allow this to be circumvented whenever a mutual friend comments on one of my photos. See, if I post a picture of me carousing with strippers, it's invisible to anyone who isn't a friend -- until the moment one of my friends posts a comment on it. Then all of their friends can see it. And since I have a couple hundred friends and they have a couple hundred friends... it opens things up pretty quickly. WTF kind of a dumbass "feature" is that? Fix it, now, please!
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3. Build a user interface that doesn't suck: Ye gods, sometimes navigating Facebook's features feels like navigating that Greek labyrinth the minotaur lived in. I'm a pretty tech-savvy guy and half the time I can't find something I know exists, much less figure out all the cool shit I could be doing. And my less tech-savvy friends are basically using the kindergarten version of Facebook because they can't find anything on there to customize it. Look, the bottom line is, MySpace has a better user interface -- ugly, yes, but usable -- and that's just fucked up.
4. Speaking of user interface, stop changing it every five minutes: Look, if you just left the damn thing alone, at least I could remember where everything is. But no, you insist on changing it constantly. If these were ever improvements, I could let this slide, but you usually just rearrange things into a different, but no less confusing, configuration, add a bunch of terminology that is just obtuse (news feed? live feed? what?) and bury the things I do use even deeper. Until you figure out something genuinely awesome, just leave it the fuck alone, okay?
1. Better page/group/whatever management and features: The only reason I (or anyone who isn't thirteen) still gets on MySpace is to check out bands. You know why MySpace is still even around? Because it sucks to be a band on Facebook. Right now, every musician I've talked to starts cursing the moment Facebook is mentioned. That ain't good. And it isn't much better for other organizations. To find my own "fan page" for my website, I have to search for it. WTF is up with that? Why isn't there a prominent link on my personal page? Or a separate login? Bottom line is, it sucks to try to use Facebook for anything but goofy personal stuff and ridiculous games. Fix this, and at very least you can eke out a few years of zombie-like existence, like MySpace has, as a media hub for emerging artists, while everyone migrates to the next big thing for their real social networking needs.