I’d Like A Different “Like”

FB-LikesFacebook recently added some new ways to “like” your friends’ posts. Now, instead of a simple like or share on a post, you can also “love” it, you can laugh at it, you can be angry or sad about it, or you can say “wow!”

The problem with all if them, though, is Facebook lets all your friends know if you react to a post, even if it’s a post of someone you don’t know.”So-and-so liked this,” or “So-and-so reacted to this video.” Similarly, you get to see all of your friends’ likes and reactions. In effect, “liking” something on Facebook is pretty close to “sharing” it, in that it goes on all your friends’ news feeds; the only difference is that it doesn’t get put on your permanent timeline.

The result is that your news feed gets filled up with stuff that other people “like” (along with all of the sponsored and “suggested” posts—don’t get me started on those), and you end up missing your friends’ posts, which is what you’re really there for in the first place.

I have fewer than 250 Facebook friends (this being a presidential election year, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number goes down before the year’s over), and I still struggle to get through my news feed most days. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have two or three or four times that many friends. I know people who have more than 1,000 friends there, and I don’t see how they ever keep up. (Personally, I’m not sure I’ve even met 1,000 people in my life.)

So, it’s hard enough to keep up with your friends’ posts, but its doubly hard if you have to wade through all of the “likes.” Particularly when so many of them are snarky political hate-posts, crap that people wouldn’t think of sharing on their own timelines, but it gets plastered all over when people “like” it on someone else’s.

By the way, you may not think you are posting political stuff, but when you “like” a bunch of those memes that make fun of the other candidates, they get sent back out under your name, and your friends will think you’re just a political hack, even though you didn’t originate or “share” the meme.

Sure, Facebook’s goal is to keep you on the site as long as possible; the longer you’re there, the more likely you are to click on one of the ads they so helpfully provide for you. So it’s in Facebook’s interest to clog your newsfeed as much as possible. I’m not optimistic that this will change.

But if it were up to me, Facebook would have a different kind of “like.” One that says, “Hey, kudos on your post; I really like it,” but doesn’t multiply the post to all your friends’ news feeds. They can even make cute little icons to denote things like “That one made me laugh out loud, just not loud enough to share it.” Or, “Way to go, you really nailed the grammar on that post.” Or, “Wow, you convinced me that [Candidate X] is doing the devil’s work!” Or even, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s a cute picture.” It’s all about sending positive feedback to the originator, without spreading the post all over creation.

That way, a “like” is better differentiated from a “share,” and we can all get more work done.


A Day Of Remembering

There was a surprise for me on Facebook this morning: a message from  Sinan in Provincetown, asking if I had any digital pictures of my brother Jim.

I met Sinan through Jim, before Jim died of AIDS in 1987.

Today was World AIDS Day, and Sinan wanted to post a remembrance of him in honor of the day. At work, I only had access to a couple, pictures that I had used in a previous blog post. I sent those off to him. A while later, I logged on to FB, and there was one of the pictures as Sinan’s profile picture for the day. Next to the picture was his post, which read simply, “Remembering Jim”

It was jarring, but beautiful and perfect. Before long, several of his friends who knew Jim had posted brief remembrances of him. Sinan posted the other picture, and a few more people weighed in. I’ll tell you, it felt great to see people who …Keep reading

My Likes Are My Own, Thanks

I was cruising Facebook today, and there, over on the right side in the “ads” section, was something new: it was a picture of one of my FB “friends” (whose name I am editing out here, to protect the innocent), with the message, “XXX Likes Malaria No More.”

Now, there’s an awful lot wrong with that sentence, but  I’m just going to have to ignore the extremely awkward single-negative and get right to the point: what has happened here is that Facebook has stolen my friend’s innocent (and well-meaning, in fact) “like,” and turned it into an advertisement. Presumably Facebook is being paid a little extra by “Malaria No More” because my eyes saw the ad blaring that XXX had “liked” it.

(And OK, I’ll give Facebook the benefit of the doubt here: since Malaria No More is a not-for-profit organization, it’s possible that there was not cash involved in the deal. Forgive me for presuming that. But I will also presume that this “service” won’t be restricted to nonprofits.)

It’s part of Facebook’s new “Sponsored Stories” ad format, where I guess anything you do is subject to being sold out to Facebook’s advertisers. According to ReadWriteWeb, there’s no way to “opt out” of your activity being used in ads:

The funny thing about these “personalized recommendations,” as Facebook calls them, is that an ad could come from a restaurant check-in that led to the worst meal of your life or it could show up after you “liked” a retailer only because they were running an ad that said “like us on Facebook for 10% off.

For my part, it’s going to make me limit what I do on Facebook. Basically, I’m going to “like” things a lot less. Oh, I’ll still “like” my friends’ comments, if I, well, like them. But I’m going to remove any “likes” I’ve put on commercial goods or services, where possible. I do enjoy Facebook, and generally I don’t get as worked up about its privacy issues as some people do — it may not seem like it, but I AM careful about what I post there.

But this is frankly kind of creepy.  I don’t want to be packaged and put up for sale. And I don’t want to be responsible for spamming my friends.

So forgive me if I don’t “like” your “Like if you love Jesus” or if I ignore your call to get a million likes so your dad will quit smoking. I’m not playing, sorry.


“Dislike” graphic from Dissociated Press

Thanks Joe!

Joe S. in 1981

Way, way back in 1981, I traveled to Provincetown, Mass., to visit my brother, and then to New York to visit my friend Geoff, spending about a week in each place. While I was in New York, another friend of Geoff’s, Joe Streno, hung out with us for a couple of days. We all had a lot of common interests — mostly revolving around music — and we had a great time. We saw a concert, we took some pictures, we talked about dying my hair red. This was nearly three decades ago — the first year of the REAGAN administration, for Pete’s sake — and although Geoff and I have of course stayed in contact, for years since then I had no reason to think about Joe.

Enter Facebook. Geoff and I both got into it last year, and there was Joe, commenting on Geoff’s posts. Soon, Joe and I were Facebook friends, and before long we were exchanging the photos on Facebook that we originally shot on film back in 1981. This is one of the coolest things about Facebook — the ability to connect with someone who you haven’t seen in years and who lives thousands of miles away, and pick up old conversations or start new ones.

So anyway, Joe lives in Seattle now, apparently running a computer consulting business, and operating two blogs, one personal and one professional. So when I got the idea of starting a blog, I asked him for some pointers.

And man, did he come through. Not only did he steer me toward WordPress, but he gave me all kinds of ideas and encouragement to get started. I sent him the link to my first post, and within hours not only did he have some more cool suggestions, but he actually went to the trouble to design a new header for the blog! A big Springsteen fan (see  this post of his for some cool photos) he apparently liked the “middle aged in middle America” line from my “about me” page, and created the “Greetings from Asbury Park” postcard-type header you see above. Way above and beyond the call, I’d say. In one fell swoop, he gave this blog a new, more focused identity, and a much nicer graphical appearance. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn about blogging, but he has given me an immense headstart. All this from a guy I haven’t seen or talked to since Sandinista! was new.

So anyway, a big Thank You to Joe, and for anyone else in the Seattle area in need of Macintosh help, look him up!