May 17th, 2012
08:05 PM ET

Letters to the President #1214: 'Facebook? I'll pass'

Reporter's Note: Not a day passes without me writing a letter to President Obama. A remarkable number, however, slip by with no response.

Dear Mr. President,

With all the kerfuffle over Facebook finally going public, I find myself pondering once again why this “thing” is supposedly worth so much money. Yes, I know a sizeable portion of our economy is now based on service and tech industries, and F’book counts in both categories. I realize that millions of people can’t imagine a day without updating their status or checking on what their friends are up to. And yet, I must say I’m still not impressed.

I have a Facebook account, but I don’t really know why. Every few weeks I sign in to see if somehow I’ve missed the point of the whole thing, and each time it continues to elude me.

Don’t get me wrong. I like people. I like knowing what they’re up to. But F’book seems to be constantly boiling over with posts about what people ate for lunch, or some inspirational sign they saw, or some video clip of a dog sneezing. When I signed up, I thought I might enjoy seeing pictures of friends and acquaintances, and sure enough, that was fascinating. For about six minutes.

I post things about myself once in a while, but I always feel weirdly egocentric even doing that. I mean, seriously, anyone who is really a friend already knows what I’m up to, and anyone who is not…do they care? Should they? I don’t think so.

Not to be mean about it, but I guess I just find Facebook boring; a land of shallow observations, goofy pictures, and cheap gossip, where time goes to die.

I know you’re a pretty techie kind of guy, so take heart: I won’t give up yet. Clearly if so many of my fellow Americans love this thing, and if investors are willing to spend as much money as they seemed poised to shell out for a piece of it, I must be missing something. But I can’t bring myself to invest too much in the quest for “Facebook meaning.” To me, it is at best a fun little fad. And, btw, woe unto all those investors if that turns out to be true.

Hope all is well with you.


soundoff (One Response)
  1. agingagonist

    Hi Tom,
    As with most technology you have to look beyond the end of your nose to see the long range benefits of it's usefulness. You write useless  letters to the president on a daily basis through your blog whether you believe he reads them or not. I am assuming you are an adult holding down a responsible job and supporting a family. Hell,  you may even be paid an exorbitant wage for writing your uninteristing opinions! Ha! You have evolved beyond the raging hormones of your teen years yet, you insist on your daily gratuity of getting-in your two cents worth. 

    Facebook, texting, tweeting, etc. is pretty much identical to your whimsical blogs but, aimed specifically at teenagers and their families. For a lot of teens, this medium provides almost instant communications with family and friends plus, a pulpit to display their thoughts and way of life without the stress of physical interaction or conflicting judgements from their peers. It's like driving your vehicle and being cut off by someone in traffic. You can honk your horn, shake your fist or flip them the bird without the immediate threat of face to face interactions or conflicts. Let's call it techno-rage.

    This same social networking medium provided the necessary conduit for a consensus of opinion and organizational platform for the overthrow of the government in Cairo; and is instrumental in developing and promoting the true global opinion of the democratic majority throughout the world. Social networking will, maybe even within your lifetime, bring the greed and abuse of governments and industry toward public accountability. It will give all citizens a direct vote or veto on all decisions made in the fiscal responsibilities of C.E.Os and government leaders. "Power to the people" is definitely what these social mediums are providing, whether they want too or not. This is the reason why all governments, including the US, are scrambling to regulate and control it's free use. Let's see that they do not accomplish muting legitimate public opinion.

    May 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |