Dearest Facebook –
On behalf of the blogging community, I have to say: we are all feeling a little put out by you lately.
When you first came on the scene, we all jumped ship from Myspace and came over to you. It was fickle and – for many of us – a little hasty, yes; but you were so new and clean and fresh.
I’ll be the first to admit that you impressed us. You won us over with your charm.
You gave us the opportunity to have Fanpages, which was an awesome way to market our websites and blogs. It wasn’t quite advertising, but it really helped. You said there was a Fanpages community. You said it was free to join. “It’s free and always will be.” We jumped on board. We did the timeline thing when you asked us to. We worried about how many fans we had. We started pinning highlighted posts to the top of our Fanpages like you told us we should. We even made cute, little posts when we reached a certain amount of fans.
We looked into making more professional designs like the big guns did. When State Farm started listing its Facebook Fanpage on its commercial, we really took you guys seriously. We talked about our Fanpages to our friends. We tried to get more fans in our blog posts. We shared each other’s pages in hopes it would grow our Facebook community.
Because we considered you to be a community – an online community where people could come together.
But recently it’s seemed as though you aren’t really a community. Recently it’s seemed more as though you are an enterprise. A dirty, greedy, extortionist-run, capitalistic enterprise.
You see, a community may have ads and billboards and opportunity for financial incentives and growth within it. But it also has some sense of participation that you get just for being there. Just for existing. People can’t be limited to only exist to say 10 or 15% of their community if they are there. If I am in a park, enjoying the sun and the falling leaves and the flowers still in bloom and the autumn breeze that is blowing through my hair, the whole park usually sees me. It isn’t limited to the number of people that I have paid to be able to see my hair as the wind blows it a little bit too out of control.
In fact, I would never, in a million years, expect to have to pay just to exist in the community in which I live. Which begs the question of just why Fanpages now are being expected to pay if they wish their posts to exist to their fans?
I understand, you are running a business. But that’s what the ads were for. That’s why when we go to log in, we have to be bothered by videos automatically playing on your homepage. That’s why in our personal Facebook pages, we are foisted upon with ads for companies we have never even heard of being suggested throughout our Newsfeed. Not just on the sidebar anymore, but between the friend’s baby photos and the cousin’s engagement announcement. That’s why we usually let go of the whole privacy concerns you raise. We move along with all the changes you make. We embrace your so-called innovations that are usually just setbacks.
There are all kinds of Fanpages out there. There are pages for professional companies. There are pages for products, like Tide and Snuggle. There are pages for activities, like turning the pillow over to the cold side when you are hot. There are pages for athletes and actresses, and even the prostitute down the street from our old apartment had her own Fanpage.
And then there are Fanpages for bloggers.
Don’t underestimate the presence of bloggers in your community, Facebook. Think about how many bloggers are out there. There are millions of blogs posted a day, by millions of bloggers. There are big bloggers that write for newspapers and magazines, like Time and CNN. There are little bloggers such as myself. There are people that blog for companies like you. At some point, enough of us will be upset enough by your blatant greed to jump ship from you too. And while some may be able to pay your ridiculous promotion fees, more will not on the principle of just how greedy you have become.
Eventually you will fall like every greedy empire does when it tries to extort money out of people, or just sits by and allows anyone that cannot compete fiscally to be squashed. There is still hope for you, though, Facebook. You could start letting more fans regularly see the posts that Fanpages make. You could make yourself viable again.
When I was in third grade, I read a fable once about greed that I will never forget. It was about a crow that found a piece of meat on the ground. He picked it up and flew to the top of a tree. While sitting there eating his meat, a small bird passed by carrying a dead rat. The crow called to her and asked “
where did you get that dead rat?” But the small bird did not answer: she flew on her way. The crow saw that she paid no attention to him, and he became very angry; and called out, “
stop and give me a piece of that rat, or I will follow you and take the whole thing for myself!” Still the small bird paid no attention to him. At last, full of greed and rage, the crow was determined to have the rat by any means. He left the meat he was eating, and flew after the small creature. Although she was only a little bird, she could fly faster than the crow; so he could not catch her.
While the crow was chasing her, though, a hawk happened to pass by the tree where the crow had left his meat. The hawk saw the meat, and at once seized it in his claws and flew away.
The crow was left with nothing. He had the meat and he gave it up for nothing.
You could make us love you once more, Facebook. But it isn’t going to happen if you expect us to pay just to exist in the community that we built for you. You’ve got the meat, but you’re going to lose it all to your avarice over a dead rat.