02. October 2011 here now 3
Admit it. When you change the site, you have an equation that predicts the socioeconomic profile of every annoyed user who will leave. Each vaguely annoying shift purges the unwilling, those refusing to shape themselves to the technology instead of letting it shape them. Admit it. With every change, you monitor us more closely. We sign up to watch others, and the price we pay is being watched by you. You factor the lost users into the profit you will make. Because you sell all our late-night patterns to data-miners. There are people hungry for ever-more precise information on who it is that we cyber-stalk at what time of night. What is the relationship between lots of annoyed status updates, and each user’s statistical likelihood of clicking on an ad for Heritage Quilting and More? Why did B. keep getting served ads for disco pants? How do you generate that column of pictures of my friends that appears on the left hand column under mine on my profile page? Why do certain people that I haven’t heard from in ages sometimes suddenly pop up there? Is it because they are cyber-stalking me? Or because we are cyber-stalking each other? Admit it. It’s all entirely random. Admit it. You are run by a group of bright young people running in circles with blindfolds on. Why do your impenetrable formulas calibrate the tone of the hundreds of status updates from hundreds of my friends to a flat, univocal timber, where only a few of the people I know show up, all seeming the same age and a little snarky and not exactly happy but generally not wallowing in misery? How did you know that we would police each other? That we would mock people who laid down too much raw human emotion. Too much politics. Too much of a muchness. Is the QR code the future? Why did I blush when it showed up in my feed that I was listening to a playlist that my ex from college made on Spotify? Someday, my daughter will ask, “So, you were like, addicted to Facebook?” Will I have to say yes? Will Goldman Sachs one day just start farming out our bank account information to business America so that no one making under two hundred grand a year will be able to sign up for ad-driven content any more? Then will we be free? I know I’ll try to explain: Darling, at first, there was the the hamster movie. Then there was 25 Things About Me. And then… It was a time where we could actually type our status updates instead of just rating our mood on a scale / color bar… A time where we could see “recent stories,” check who was online. We were waiting for the trivia of a thousand idle moments in our friends’ lives to coalesce into a majestic tide of connection and gossip and pleasure and revolution. And while we waited, it was a good way to cyber-stalk our exes.