Mindless Blather

The Internet Sucks

05 Dec 2012

I realize that title probably seems like link-bait. Maybe it is. After all, without the internet, I wouldn’t have a job. You wouldn’t be reading this post. I wouldn’t be sharing this post on TweetBook+. Let me be a little more specific about what I’m trying to say here:

The social internet sucks.

Still sound too general to you? Deal with it.

Let me apologize for the tone of this post being the exact opposite of what it was for Love Your Terminal. The response I got to that post was amazing. This post is basically a rant. It’s what I’ve noticed about the internet since moving away from friends and family. It’s also what I’ve noticed as a slow, growing trend over the last two to three years. I’ll break it down into a few key elements.

Everything is too disjoint

I don’t have “Facebook friends,” “Twitter friends,” and “Google+ friends,” I have friends. Unfortunately the spread themselves out across many different social networks. Fortunately (I suppose), most of them choose Facebook.

I’m not saying that I want one social network to rule them all, or anything, just an easy way to communicate with my friends on a larger scale. When I make an event on Facebook, I don’t want to have to turn around to copy and paste all the details to an event in Google+. When I find an interesting link on Twitter, I don’t want to have to copy that link into Facebook and Google+.

My solution to this problem is fairly simple. Whatever I post on Facebook auto-posts to Twitter. Many of my tangential social networks (like Foursquare, Instagram, and this blog) auto-post to Facebook and Twitter. This poses some problems, though.

  1. Google+ doesn’t have a write API.
  2. I still have to maintain (at least) three threads of conversation between friends.
  3. For my tangential networks, either party can choose to remove functionality at a whim.

We’re at the mercy of our providers, and they don’t seem to care. Some can argue that they don’t have to, and they don’t really. It’s just disappointing that they don’t want to.

Everything is too combined

…but wait, you just said…” Yeah. I did.

When I’m reading about the new baby that my friends just had, I really don’t care about the fact that Michael Arrington is at Starbucks. (Sorry, Mike.) Twitter is worse about this than Facebook, now that Facebook uses some algorithm for posts. That just brings about new problems that aren’t worth bringing to light right now, though. Somehow, Google+ seems to deliver this information te best.

I want my news separated from my friends. Not to rip the two apart, but to find a better way to graciously mingle the two together. Or some sort of slider to show just how news I want from pages I like integrated with my friends. Sometimes my friends are more important and I want little to no news. Sometimes I just want to read the news. Facebook always seems to get the amount wrong every time, though.

Organization is hard

This point feeds off of “Everything is too combined,” but I felt it needed to be stated separately. Despite what Facebook wants you to believe, I don’t have 325 friends. I couldn’t maintain a group of 325 friends if I wanted to. I have a few (maybe 5 or 6) good friends, 15-20 friends outside that initial group, 20-30 acquaintances, a lot of family, and some people that I met at that one place that one time for that one thing (and now I don’t know who they are, where I was, or what I was doing). Each social network seems to have a different solution to this:

  1. Google+ has circles …that I have to maintain myself.
  2. Facebook has DumbSmartLists …that often gets the groups wrong or just flat-out doesn’t add them.
  3. Twitter has …something, I’m sure they do.

Sure, at some point it’s up to me to keep track of who’s my friend, who’s an acquaintance, who I work with, and who I meet once a week for my yodeling club, but a little help would be nice. Not only that, but sharing is a two-way street. I know a lot of my friends don’t care about my terminal blog post, but I don’t care that the Razorbacks got a new coach. I can solve your prolem by putting all my nerdy friends in a list and only sending the status to them, but how can I solve mine? And I’d really like my posts to be public, just filter out the friends that I know don’t want to see it.

Some solutions exist, like SocialFixer. I appreciate what SocialFixer does, but it doesn’t really fix the problem. It’s a browser extension, so it only works on the website. It also filters based on regular expressions, which is just gross (and not a solution for people that don’t know regular expressions). SocialFixer is a great bandaid, but it’s just not a remedy.

What can we do?

I don’t have some big call-to-arms to boycott Facebook. No sweeping declaration that I’m leaving Twitter. Right now it doesn’t look like there’s anything that we can do. I’m open to suggestions, if you have them. It’s just a realization that I had after I moved. This was more of a post about how I’ve realized that communication sucks right now. It’s better than it ever has been, I imagine, but we still have a long way to go.

a photo of me

Andrew Hays

I'm an SDE at Amazon.com, writing services and user interfaces for third-party merchants. When I'm not working, I'm probably redesigning my blog for the thousandth time. I like UI design more than service design.

I'm happily married to Ashley Hays. I was born and raised in Arkansas and attended UALR earning a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Computer Science.

I'm on virtually all of the major social networks, but for the most part, you can find me at the ones below: