In the past week or so, Crabby Old Lady has received dozens of Facebook emails
- from strangers who want to be her friend
- from people she knows sending imaginary snowballs, beer and teddy bears
- from the same people asking her to send the imaginary beer back to them
- from people requesting she write on their walls
- from people asking her to write on their superwalls, whatever that is
- from people asking her to join a group of some kind
Some of these requests require Crabby to install third-party programs to read the messages. One took so long that she made lunch, read two chapters of a book and when she returned to her desk, it was still installing itself.
In addition, Facebook may be the most usability-challenged site on the web. Crabby Old Lady might have sent that beer back if she could have figured out how. And write on a wall? Crabby can’t find any walls on Facebook or much of anything else. The navigation sucks.
Nevertheless, sometimes she succumbs to the email notices and dips in her toe. She is always sorry.
Another annoyance is that whenever Crabby accepts a friend invitation, the form asks where she met the person. Crabby thinks it’s pretty strange that a website created by a college student doesn’t have a “through blogging” choice, and since she didn’t go to college, the numerous requests for college connections and affiliations are useless to Crabby. Plus, there is another irritation no one seems to mention - the pages are incredibly slow to load.
If all that weren't enough to send Crabby fleeing, there is also the uncomfortable guilt factor to Facebook. All those people who send Crabby Old Lady beer, teddy bears and ask her to write on their walls mean well. Some of them are Crabby’s friends, people she likes, and it feels rude to her not to respond. But she can’t keep up with her real email so imaginary beer is not on her agenda and she doesn’t like feeling guilty or unfriendly every day.
Facebook’s ageist groups have been discussed here in the past, but a link recently fell into Crabby’s inbox leading to an even more disgusting report. Facebook founder/media-golden-boy, 24-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a tech conference last spring, had this advice for aspiring technology entrepreneurs:
“I want to stress the importance of being young and technical,’ he stated. ‘If you want to found a successful company, you should only hire young people with technical expertise… Young people are just smarter.”
The TGB Bias Test hasn’t been used in a long time, but these statements cry out for it. The test involves replacing ageist bigotry in public statements with racist or sexist bigotry to show how little attention is paid when the targets are old people.
Hardly anyone objected to Mr. Zuckerberg’s ageist statements, but imagine the uproar if he had said, “You should hire only white people” or “Men are just smarter.”
Wolf Blitzer would have led the The Situation Room with that story.
Thousands of old people use Facebook. Apparently, Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t mind adding them to his questionable membership count, but he wouldn’t hire any of them. His stunning ignorance is an excellent example of the reasons to not give inexperienced young people too much money, adulation and power. This kid doesn’t even know that if it is his hiring practice to exclude old people, it would be better for him and his investors (Microsoft) to keep his mouth shut about it in public.
For all these reasons, Crabby Old Lady tried to cancel her membership. But that’s not so easy at Facebook. In fact, it is impossible. One can only “deactivate” an account and even then, you must be sure to check a box to opt out of future email. A note warns:
“Even after you deactivate, your friends can still invite you to events, tag you in photos, or ask you to join groups. If you opt out, you will NOT receive these email invitations and notifications from your friends.”
Oh, dear - as if this breaks Crabby’s heart. But more important, it means her presence is not removed from Facebook and she has lost control of her information.
In addition, it means that Facebook’s phenomenal membership statistics are false; since no one can cancel, membership can only grow. Do you think Bill Gates thought this through before investing in Facebook? There is no telling how many people, like Crabby, want out and can't do it.
So Crabby Old Lady must be content to “deactivate” her Facebook account. She doesn’t mean to be rude to her friends – real and ephemeral – but to her, the “service” represents all the things that are wrong with so-called social media.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Grannymar tells of her efforts to "gift wrap" her daughter in I Gave My Wedding Dress Away.]