I wrote this recently in regards to Facebook relationship status changes, after seeing quite unexpectedly that two friends had went from “in a relationship” to “single”:
There’s nothing quite like Facebook relationship status updates… they’re like seeing a headline without reading the story. They take so much and reduce it to a predefined set of options. Perhaps it’s a good metaphor for our culture. Flashy, intriguing, but missing the crucial backstory and the depth of context.
With Facebook’s recent update focusing on updates for every digital action (through applications) and the addition of the ticker, this seems even more relevant. As interesting and potential-filled as Facebook’s ability to capture so much (and instantly and automatically share it with online friends, then keep it all categorized on a timeline) is, it’s essentially reducing actions and interests to basic updates lacking substance and context. Headlines without stories.
It’s information, certainly. Your friend listened to this song, read this article. Who, what, when. But why and how are equally interesting and important, yet completely missing, and when sharing is automatic and “frictionless,” there’s no opportunity for them to be included.
Frictionless sharing gives the illusion of “signal” when it’s mostly just noise.