Maybe it’s early adopter fatigue, but I can’t seem to get that excited about anything anymore.
I remember LSU finally getting thefacebook in November 2004. My Ivy league friends already had it. It was being discussed by college newspapers. There were whispers about it being better than MySpace. When LSU got it, all everyone could do was spend every last hour snooping everyone else on campus.
We all added our classes and put names to the sea of faces. It seemed like everyone could recognize everyone else. Random conversations were started with, “I think I saw you on thefacebook.” “Are you on thefacebook?” “I saw her/him on thefacebook.”
There wasn’t concerns about privacy settings because no one outside of your own school’s network could see your profile unless you added them. No parents, grandparents, younger siblings, cousins, and the trash with the super customized MySpace pages. thefacebook was entitlement for college people. The basically anonymous thefacebook guy who hovered in the title bar wasn’t trying to be your lame friend like Tom. You had to make an effort to find out who he was.
It was ours. It was cool. We were too old for homepages on Geocities or AOL. Chat rooms were full of pedophiles. Our AIM friend list was 200 strong (with new friends rotating in for old friends at the end of the list). MySpace was annoyingly cluttered with sparkles, blinking lights, glitters, angels, and unreadable text. It played loud music inexplicably and at the worst times. thefacebook was clean and to the point. It let you check out the nameless girl in your poli sci class. You could post up party pictures and share them. You could argue with anyone about anything without worrying who saw it. There was no noise or blinking lights.
I remember being excited that I was one of the first million users when they announced it in January 2005 or so. I waited impatiently as all my friends who went to smaller schools slowly but surely got thefacebook over the following year. Then I remember getting angry when employers were getting alumni email accounts to sneak onto the networks to spy on potential employees. I remember getting more angry as high schools were added. I remember nearly quitting (now) Facebook entirely when it was open to the general public. The onslaught of apps was coming and we knew it. It was MySpace Part Deux.
Along the way, it became a part of my life and everyone I knew. It became a normal form of communication. It became necessary to stay in the loop with your friends and family. Something that was once ours… the young college kids… now belongs to everyone. It’s to the point where it’s a burden abandon it.
I deactivated my account for 4 months this past spring. I was just tired of being bombarded by the display of the very best of everyone else’s life while I felt like mine was just rotten. I felt unburdened, but I felt alone. I guess you can’t avoid human nature. We’re such social creatures that even prisoners would rather be around murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. over being in solitary confinement.
I got an invite to Google+. I like the simple format. I’m hopeful that Google is using this as an effort to keep market share/hold off Facebook and not an investment to eventually monetize with applications, ads, and selling our data. I only invited ¼th of my Facebook friends aka the people who are actually contacts in my cell phone/email.
But I’m not excited. I’ve been excited for Atari, Nintendo, Apple IIe, Sega, GeoSafari, Super Nintendo, Genesis, pagers, Gateway desktops, ‘faster’ dial up internet, Game Gear, AOL homepages, Yahoo email, AIM, cell phones, Dreamcast, mp3 players, WinAmp, Sony Vaio laptops, blogs, ethernet connections at college campuses, handheld PDAs with styluses, national cell phone plans, Windows XP, XBox, Gmail, thefacebook.com, etc.
I’m burnt out. I’m young enough to be a trendsetter and old enough to spend money. I’m in the 5 year range that is the tech marketing sweet spot, and I absolutely hate all of it. Facebook wouldn’t be worth $100 billion and Google wouldn’t be worth $180 billion if they didn’t have monetize every last bit of it.
It’s strange. I accept billboards on highways, commercials on TV, previews before movies, and ads in magazines, newspapers, and church bulletins. Yet, I can’t stand the cluttering of my internet space. I literally blow a gasket when a video advertisement automatically starts. I want to punch someone in the face if I hear, “You’ve won a …”. I grit my teeth, I clench my fist, and let out a lower octave “arrrgh”.
So now I wait. I wait until Google eventually lets me down. I wait until Mark Zuckerberg finds some way to appease people while closing his iron fist around our data. I wait for someone to find a way to merge my Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Google+, GChat, and FourSquare into some type of super social network.
When really my strongest and best social network is driving hundreds of miles with my beagle in the passenger seat just to let out a sigh when I get a hug from a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time. Monetize that, you fucks.