Whenever I speak with “real life friends” about Facebook, I often hear them complain about how their networks on the site are just too large to manage.
They’ve “friended” so many people over the years that their News Feeds are now streams of chatter from people they hardly know. The ‘hide’ option helps, but it still doesn’t prevent random thoughts and baby photos from bubbling up on the regular. For them — and myself as well — the social network seems to have changed from something resembling an intimate social gathering into a bustling city street.
Apparently recognizing the vapor that is a Facebook friendship, comedian Greg Benson devised a reality television show to demonstrate the loose bonds on the site. In the show, Benson planned to pay visits to distant Facebook “friends” and see how they react with him at their door. While the show never got picked up, Benson decided to release its pilot on YouTube last week. It’s well worth a watch.
For this specific episode, Benson visited a handful of Facebook friends he’d never met before and encountered some interesting reactions. While I won’t give away the whole video, I think there’s one particularly telling scene worth noting. In it, Benson walks up to a gated home, introduces himself, and is met with a “Sorry who?” After giving it another try, his Facebook friend shuts the gate in his face. “No man.” he says. “No. I’m sorry. I can’t let you in.”
The other interactions are not as bad, in fact some actually go quite well. But the point is, if a network based on social connections contains some between people who would shut a gate in each other’s face, then it’s no wonder why visiting the News Feed can end up an unsatisfying experience. Facebook turned itself into one of the stickiest places on the internet, in part, because the content there was so enjoyable. But for many, the random connections on the site have significantly brought down the quality of their experience. As “friends” continue to pile up, it’s hard to tell how Facebook can fix this problem.