tannoy blog — is facebook socially inept

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Having used Facebook for a while, I am finding it useful, but deeply unsatisfying. It allows me to keep in closer touch with movements of family and old friends, but, with them, it delivers the kind of empty conversations you get with strangers over hotel breakfast.

I have to admit I don’t like facebook's stupidities. I suspect that might be part of the problem, actually: they filter out, indeed have sneered at, some of the complexities that make social interaction more interesting. For example, they don’t grasp places, things, can have multiple names. They don’t permit interests that are more than the simply literal. They don’t understand people have different personas for different circles. In fact, I suspect they’re socially inept, anal even; they suppress these examples of the poetry of being.

Here’s one example of their enforced mass-blandness. This is the one that gets my goat, I’m quite sure there are others that will annoy other people. What's wrong is not that they get my goat, what’s wrong is that they enforce blandness. I don’t tell facebook where I live because they won't let me. I live in the City of Light, which is another name for Paris, a name I much prefer. People who understand my chosen name are the kind of people I want to talk with. But the inepts at facebook don’t understand the City of Light, so won't let me enter it, so prevent me from finding similarly–minded people on the site. I find the name poetic, and it so happens it’s technologically significant. That’s me, pretty much.

Now, I don’t mind if they use Paris internally, so when people search for Dylans in Paris, I get found. I do mind that when people look at my profile, they see “Paris, France”, and not “the City of Light”.

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That reveals another facebook error. I live in Paris. I don’t live in “Paris, France”, because calling it “Paris, France” would imply I don’t know Paris is the capital of France. If you’re Brit, it’s the kind of thing you know unless you’re intensely dense, or have suffered the misfortune of a very poor education. I know Paris is the capital of France because I am well educated, & I don’t wish to insult those people who educated me by suggesting they did a bad job, which I would be doing if I called it “Paris, France”. Equally, I don’t enjoy conversations where I have to keep explaining the obvious, such as Paris is the capital of France, unless the other person in the conversation is a young child. That’s why I call it Paris, that’s why I will not call it “Paris, France”. There are all kinds of subtle social signals in naming things, and Facebook do not seem to understand this. This is another reason why I think Facebook is socially inept.

For those who aren't Brit, here’s one way to work out whether you need to specify the location of somewhere. If the place name is used for the first time in this list, and the name is unique, it should be used unqualified:

Is it in context?
Otherwise, is it local?
Otherwise, is it the name of a continent?
… a country?
… a region or state?
… a capital city?
… a major city?
… a famous place, real or imaginary?

So, for example, Paris is not the name of a continent, country, or region, but is the unique name of a capital city, so it should be used unqualified. On the other hand, Congo is the name of two countries, so needs qualifying (e.g. Brazzaville, Kinshasa or Leopoldville). Luxembourg the country does not need qualifying, but Luxembourg the region does (e.g. Luxembourg, Belgium), as does Luxembourg the capital city (e.g. Luxembourg City). California is the name of a state, so does not need qualifying, whereas California the village does (e.g. California, Norfolk)—unless you are local to south–west Norfolk, in which case California refers to the village. Georgia was the name of a state of the USA and a state of the USSR, so always had to be qualified, unless you were in an associated block. Now, following the collapse of the USSR, & unless you’re in the USA, the name refers to the country.