Do you hate Facebook, or just your friends?

19:00, Nov 14 2012

Facebook is kind of like Shortland Street - half the people engaging with it claim to hate it. People post ridiculous updates from their friends and then complain about Facebook as if Mark Zuckerberg wrote the post itself. So, is it Facebook you hate, or the people you are friends with on it?

For a long while, I've replied to these complaints with "make better friends". If you are in high school (and thus are probably friends with most of your year) you are bound to see some horrid stuff on there. Been added by people you went to primary with? You are DEFINITELY going to find out stuff about people you would rather not.

Hating the content on Facebook is pretty understandable. You think someone seems relatively nice, you haven't talked to them in a few years, then suddenly, of course, your "friends" and your Facebook friends are vastly different. Though deleting someone can often seem awkward (and announcing that "people who still see this have survived the cull" is narcissistic, even for Facebook), you can always essentially block them without them knowing or just not accept the request in the first place.

But maybe I'm being too kneejerk here. Maybe Facebook is making your friends terrible, rather than the other way around. The structure of likes and comments oft results in needless oneupmanship, and a small passage of text is much easier to misread than spoken word. Facebook can feel kind of intimate when it isn't - you might feel as though only the 20 or so people you talk to are seeing a post, letting you type as though far fewer people are watching. The medium of Facebook is relatively open - much more than, say, Twitter - but it still imposes certain limits and requirements upon users. You are supposed to use your real name, and a profile picture/cover photo is all but mandated.

Maybe it's not Facebook itself that engenders dickheadedness, but the idea of a large social gathering itself. People are much more on guard in large social situations, which contrasts with the removal from fear that a keyboard and internet connection provides. Is Facebook how we would all act in high school if we cared much less about social norms?

In the end, though, if someone is a real dick on Facebook, or you find what they post boring, just hide them from your feed. Facebook enables us to be a-holes, but it certainly doesn't force it. Facebook is a social network that you can fill with whoever you like. You probably just hate your friends.

Email Henry or follow him on Twitter.

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