By making it easy for you to be found by people you’d rather avoid, Facebook and other social networks are destined to self-destruct.
We’re not really sure we agree with this at Proximate.
Doctorow claims that one or a few awkward social interactions will inevitably ruin a user’s experience with a social network, once it reaches ubiquity so that even the sketchy people in your life are on it and requesting your friendship.
Most of us, he claims, won’t refuse to add someone to our friends list, and, at that point, if we’re creeped out or annoyed and as a result enjoy the network less, we’ll jump to the next network.
It’s a fundamental principle of any social network (online or off) that social ties increase over time. [For a good summary of the network theory, check out Albert-László Barabási.) Much like on Facebook it’s awkward to cut someone off entirely, so networks slowly grow.
But much like in-person conferences and events, a bad experience or two is rarely enough to turn us away from networking entirely. There’s too much of what we want to gain: gossip, interesting reading, business opportunities or just social interaction.
And, it could be argued, aren’t all of us a wee bit creepy in our Facebook stalking?
PS: Interesting to note Doctorow’s article is vintage 2008; Facebook has only become more dominant despite progressively more creepiness on a corporate level. On the other hand, efforts by LinkedIn to control creepiness (by requesting some semantic information about your connection before you request it) seem rather weak, though well-intentioned.