So I bit the bullet about 2 weeks ago and signed up to Facebook. Why? Well, I have complained about how much I dislike the entire thing for at least the last 6 months (if not longer) but it was rightfully pointed out to me that I cannot complain about something of which I have had no experience of. Well, I’ve got 2 weeks of experience now and this is what I think.

I spent the first 48 hours or so quite addicted to it, adding everyone I ever knew ever as a friend and having fun setting the details on how I met each person. I’ve just gone over 100 friends and my ego is satisfied. Great. It’s kind of cool to say “Hi” to someone I’ve not hung out with for 7 years, but after the “Hi” that’s about it. It’s a bit awkward. Is this because I’m a bad person with no social skills, or did we just stop hanging out for a reason?

Then, I had fun adding a few of the applications. Connecting myself up to a few of the sites I actually DO use on the ‘net (flickr, upcoming, dopplr, etc.) so that in theory I could show those that cared (who does?) what I do on other sites or more likely, I could pretend/brag to myself and others that I have a life outside of Facebook. It’s a bit of a one way street. Just dragging in stuff from other sites to display in another place. I can’t push much back out to those sites though. This must be the walled garden I was hearing about.

As I was locating and finding applications, I discovered that other people had slightly less useful, but more personally interactive apps., and I love a good excuse to fill out a survey to see which Pok√©mon I’m most like or which film star I’m most likely to marry. General time wasting. I can compare my film tastes with my friend? Sounds like potential fun and conversation. OK… oh wait, I’ve got to add this piece of crap to MY profile as well just to do this? Erm… no. It appears that to interact with anything you’ve got to also say you want to use it too. It’s viral in a bad, forced way. Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, my inbox is now filled with requests to try out just about every application my awful friends have decided is fun today (I’m turning off all notifications I can as I pause from typing).

The search. The most irritating search I’ve ever used. Just to say certain names are pretty common. I can only search with more attributes if the person I’m searching for is in a network that I belong to. That seems a bit ridiculous. I have friends that aren’t in any specific network, or I associate with a group of people too small to require their own network. Yeah, I can try and find people from my IM listings (that’s useful) but if a friend is unfortunate enough to have a common name, and not be listed with their IM details, it’s virtually impossible to locate them unless you find them on a shared friend’s list or you ask them (but if you’re using Facebook to get back into contact with old friends, it’s possibly safe to assume you currently can’t contact them).

So, I really am failing to find an actual use other than for time wasting and ego-boosting. I’m quite nosey, so I suppose I do enjoy seeing who’s just fallen out with who or just started seeing someone else etc., and I do like friending people I haven’t spoken to for ages just because I want to see where they’re working or if they’re still with so’n’so. It’s passive gossip and I like that. It’s the same reason I like Twitter, but at least it’s not as nerdy.

I also am reasonably keen on having all of my contacts in one place. Granted, most of the people I really want to talk to I already have in my phone book or on my IM or (heaven forbid) I see them regularly, but it is valuable to have a centralised list of people from various networks. I haven’t figured out WHY yet, but I can see a time when I might want to organise something or announce that I’m emigrating to Mars and it would be a lot less hassle for me if I can just mass-spam this information to everyone I’ve ever met.

At the end of the day though, I’m bored of signing up for networks. This is a fad. I think I said MySpace was a fad too and refused to sign up to that, and that’s fallen away to be replaced by Facebook (and dare I say it, but at least MySpace was helping to expose some musical talents, if nothing else). Something else’ll be along and I’ll be complaining about that this time next year too. Someone please tell me why “this is the one”?

Can’t I just have one home and this can be it?