Thursday, 27 May 2010

I don’t want to sign up to MyFaceFreaks!

For some time now I've managed to evade following the herd in many aspects of life; music tastes, attitude, political and philosophical opinion and not least, fashion. If I've managed to achieve anything at all in this life it's the deft avoidance of joining in.

Where technology is an issue I don't so much avoid it as take a fleeting glance when all the bugs have been worked out. I generally believe that the people who dive head first into anything new are the ones who will have their time taken up with having to reassess their approach, continuously amend, upgrade, abandon, and ultimately end up out of pocket both in finances and time-you can't get either back easily if at all.

The same can be said for social networking. It was a good while before I created a Myspace page, and even then I wasn't sure what I'd use it for. I was primarily a musician years ago so of course being me, I made the first mistake of creating a 'personal' page rather than a 'band' page. So I had to close that down and start again. Once I'd done that I experienced trouble trying to get my music into the little Flash player thing. Then there was the page customisation and…oh my god, pretty much everything was hassle.

After several months I got the hang of it, used it to its full potential, then just as I was able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labour, swapped tack to be a DJ. At least then I didn't have to change my Myspace profile to a personal one, I just had to make a few text changes.
Meanwhile, it was about that time when everybody started to migrate in droves to Facebook.

Being the stubborn bugger I was, I staunchly refused. From what I could see, it wasn't customisable enough, had no music player support and was generally fiddly to use. Then even more people slowly migrated to it which really left me baffled.

What was the problem with Myspace? Nothing that I could see, apart from when they automatically (and almost stealthily) allowed band profiles to accept any old friend request from clearly inappropriate profiles 'for our convenience'. Bad Myspace; very bad social networking site. You caused me much frustration when all I got was additions by metal bands and hip hop labels that, lets face it, were sent by someone not intelligent or respectful enough to even take a look at my page. They see the 'DJ' at the beginning of my profile name and immediately think I'm going to be a target audience. Doctor Who is a Timelord. He flits round space in a telephone box and zaps daleks. I wouldn't take my high blood pressure problem to him just because he has 'Doctor' in his name, would I?

Then of course there's the irritatingly imposing Flash header adverts that expand all over the page you're trying to read just because your mouse pointer was a few pixels too near the bottom of it for a split second. It then takes a while to find the 'close' icon to get rid of it, by which time you've apparently ingested all of the information that the oh-so-clever marketing guy thinks you should have done whilst struggling to get shot of it.

Here's news for you, marketing guy; it's atrocious, invasive advertising. I'm not reading the details of the advert; I'm trying to find the 'close' icon. If I ever meet the person responsible for them I will more than likely cheerily stab them in the eyes with a plastic chip fork.

Anyway, I sorted that problem out easily enough. By then though, the rot had certainly started to creep in; Myspace was becoming as quiet as an old folks home post nuclear winter, and Facebook was filling up with its desperate refugees…

Nowadays, I'm a 'Twitter' man (and a 'Blogspot' man, obviously). Twitter blows away the competition when it comes to getting a message out in 140 characters or less; World Goth Day is evidence of this. To ramble on in further detail requires this blog page, and all I have to do is pop a message in Twitter about a new blog and people will come to read it without needing to sign in, give blood. No commitment, nothing. It's insanely simple.

The one infuriating thing about Twitter, though more about other users than the platform itself, is the synchronised 'links' thrown out by cross-connected social networking sites, worst of all, Facebook. There's been many a time when someone posts a tweet which might be interesting, so I click the associated link and presto; a bloody Facebook sign in is required to read the rest of the post or view the photo gallery. Thanks for that dead-end link, guys. No, really…

Nothing on earth is important enough make me sign up to yet another social networking site just to read something that probably isn't as life-essential as first thought. I've toyed with the idea, but right now Facebook is having a lot of bad publicity with its security issues. I'm too scared to submit little more than a username and password in fear of it having enough information on me to allow a kid in Pennsylvania to organise a Facebook House Party at my home while I'm at work. To quote a good friend of mine, "'s usually just telling me someone I don't know is doing something I don't care about and then demanding I take a quiz about it...". Well, screw that for a game of soldiers. Doesn't that sound suspiciously like work to you? If I had to dutifully log in each day, read some information then answer random queries, I'd expect to be paid for it.

I have constantly bemoaned social networking sites as been the cause of death of the 'official' band website. It's made bands lazy; their 'dot com' addresses frequently lead to landing pages which promptly redirect you to Myspace or Facebook pages. Almost any shred of originality and artistic quality are either discarded or suppressed in favour of uniform looking blocks of text and graphics. When even large corporate bodies see fit to sign up to Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in order to be seen around the world, you know we're in trouble (and I don't even need to point out the irony of such bodies imposing lockdowns on accessing such sites at work).

It's time to take back what is yours and not let your life become the intellectual property of backroom geeks that you've never met and who have full access to it. I won't waste my time or yours telling you why because it'll never happen. Seeing as I can't convince everyone to go and delete their social networking accounts for the sake of their own identity, and to be fair I put a LOT of time into getting my rarely updated Myspace page looking something like coherent to just go and erase all my work, maybe I can politely ask one request of all Twitter users:

If you're going to synchronise all your 'potential identity fraud outlets' to send a Tweet, please make it publicly viewable.

Meanwhile, here's my request of the internet in general:

Dear Internet,

Just give me the information quickly and without consequence. I don't want to sign in. I don't want to create an account. I don't want to register for a monthly newsletter. I don't want to enhance my old feller or purchase a Thai bride.

And I certainly don't want to take a bloody quiz.

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