Until I was about fifteen, my mother cleaned my room. I didn’t ask her to clean it, but we’re Italian, and in an Italian household, a dirty corner or a dusty bookshelf is worse than canned pasta sauce; it’s just not part of our culture. Although I realize my mother had the best intentions, all I wanted to come home to my room to find things exactly as I’d left them.
I still remember the exact feeling of irritation when I’d open my bedroom door and discover she’s “organized” things for me. It’s the same feeling I had about a month ago, when I logged onto my Facebook account. I’d expected to find my page how I’d left it, but I was startled to discover that everything had changed: the familiar icons (“Home,” “Profile” and “Account”) weren’t where I’d left them; Across the top of my webpage, there was a stream of my photos – photos that I thought were neatly tucked away behind the “Albums” button. When I clicked to view the photos, I was suddenly directed to an unfamiliar black page that displayed my pics in a Windows Flash Player style. What’s going on? Whose been in my room?
Facebook keeps “upgrading” and I don’t like it. For me, and for a generation of web-savvy twenty-somethings, my Facebook homepage is my digital room. Nobody likes leaving their room in a specific way only to return home to find it in disarray. While Facebook may think it’s doing me a favor by “improving” or “organizing” my room for me, I appreciate this as much as I appreciated my mother invading my room when I was fifteen: somehow, I feel violated, as if my private space has been invaded.
While I’m not suggesting our Facebook profiles (and the information contained within them) are “private,” I hate being forced to “upgrade” my homepage every five minutes to accommodate the ever-expanding Facebook universe. While I appreciate the upgrade options, Facebook needs to learn not to fiddle with a good thing; as my grandfather used to say, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” Perhaps my beliefs are rooted in an archaic generation, but I can’t help but wonder if at some point in the near future, Facebook will get too complicated.
Last month, thousands of My Space users switched to the music sharing site Bandcamp for one simple reason: My Space kept changing things around. “My Space has become ridiculous” my musician friends told me, “It’s so complicated, I can’t even upload a song any more.”
While Facebook faces no major competition at the time being, the multi-billion dollar company risks losing (or at least irritating) members if they don’t stop tinkering around. Researching for this article, I found many blogs authored by exasperated Facebook users threatening to quit the Social Network if it didn’t stop changing. Yet amongst all the threats, I couldn’t find one person who’d followed through on their threat. How could I find them even if they’re out there? In the digital world at least, once you quit Facebook, you no longer exist.
Us irritated Facebook vets can complain all we want, but the fact of the matter is this: if Facebook wants to clean your online room, they will. It’s just a part of our culture.