Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's clearly too late for me to make peace with 21st-century social media, but I've still got questions


[Click to enlarge]

by Ken

I have freely confessed that when it comes to utter cluelessness regarding the brave new world of 21st-century social media, nobody is more utterly clueless than I am. I guess I feel bad about this, at least the being-left-out part, but that's not your problem. I do have some questions, though.

Maybe this would all be clear to me if I had seen The Social Network, but the thought of sitting through an entire movie about Facebook and its mystical leader Mark Zuckerberg gave me such a case of the willies that I didn't even care that the script was written by Aaron Sorkin -- and I revered the work he did on Sports Night, The West Wing, and yes, even Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.


It seems like every week that the FB people send me an e-mail saying that I have "notifications" that I haven't looked at, and offering to waft me there at the mere click of a link and filling in of a password. The first couple of times, I was so concerned about these alleged un-looked-at notifications that I spent countless minutes rummaging around the site trying to find them. I went round and round, following link after link, until finally I arrived at a definitive screen message that I have no new notifications.

Fair enough, but then why does the FB e-mail always claim that I do? Have unread notifications, that is? True, it also rattles off a list of FB friends of mine who have posted babblings that I haven't looked at, and sometimes I actually click through to "catch up." Many of these are people I like and respect. But their FB babblings, not so much. Never mind, though. My question is, how does Facebook get away with lying on a regular basis. The e-mail always insists that I have "notifications" to investigate. (Sorry I can't give you the exact rest of the wording. I get so peeved that I always take pleasure in deleting these e-mails. If it had occurred to me that I might want to write about this some slow Sunday night, I would of course have saved one.)

The thing is, "notifications" are veryspecific things FB-wise, and I never have notifications. I think Zuckerberg should be hauled before some appropriate investigative body to get to the bottom of this.


Oh sure, I know it's common for individuals and companies who for some reason seem to measure their worthiness by their tally of FB "likes" to beg and wheedle for same, and even to attempt to bribe. But I was caught short recently when my new cell-phone company issued one of these shameless pleas. I forget what it was exactly they kind of stuff they wanted me to buddy up to on their website (again, I really should have foregone the pleasure of deleting the e-mail in order to have it available now), but the answer to this particular prayer turned out to be, sure enough, issuing a FB "like." I recall there were even instructions for how to participate if you're not on Facebook.

What got me in this case was the nature of the proffered bribe. Usually it's "a chance to win [fill in the blank]." This is something else that drives me nuts. All over cyberworld are people and organizations telling me that I "have a chance to win" such-and-such, despite the obvious fact that this is true only in the most technical sense. If I do whatever it is they're trying to get me to do, it's theoretically not impossible that I might win whatever-it-is, but we all know that's not going to happen.

But I digress. As I say, this proffered bribe wasn't (gasp!) a chance to win something I'm not going to win. No, there wasn't even anything conditional about this offer. No, if I came through with the desired "like," they were going by God to plant a tree. I have no idea what kind of tree or where. And I have nothing against the planting of trees. Who would be against the planting of trees. And my phone company, you should understand, is famous for its progressive sympathies, putting its money where its promotional mouth is. But do they really think I'm such a good person that I'll drop everything just so they'll plant some kind of tree somewhere?

If they think that, they're wrong.


"I'm a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage." -- news anchor Will McEvoy

HBO's "On Demand" channel has a new two-minute tease up with a first peek at Sorkin's upcoming series, The Newsroom, in which a straitlaced TV news anchor played by Jeff Daniels is goaded by reporters trying to pigeonhole him into talking about his politics, which he has always kept rigorously private, and he goes crazy and tells a bunch of embarrassing truths about what passes for TV news coverage. Looks really promising to me. I'm psyched. It's under "Inside Series"in the "Series" section. On second thought, it finally occurred to me that if HBO has put this sneak peek up on "On Demand," it's bound to be elsewhere. Sure enough, there it is on YouTube.

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At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, i get those fake notifications for an account i set up to help me research stories. it's an account where i've never posted on my wall or uploaded any photos but the kindly people at facebook raided my gmail account to find friends with whom i should connect - including you because i wrote a few guest blogs. it was so invasive! i felt as if facebook would tell the world i wear boxer briefs because i once jokingly filled out a fruit of the loom survey via gmail!

At 6:56 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Cool! Now what else should we know that might have come up in that Fruit of the Loom survey?



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