Opinion

Facebook wants to send you to internet hell and it's not OK

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Gary Ogden
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Facebook's new algorithm is bad, so here's me whining about it 4

Let’s get this out the way: I do like a good video of a teenager slipping over at the top of the stairs on prom night, I do. Really like someone spouting absolute abstract nonsense in the back of a car after having their wisdom teeth out. Am in love with a cat sprinting into a glass door, so I am. That’s why I have liked an innumerable and difficult-to-moderate amount of fail and meme pages on Facebook - to experience the simple pleasures inherent in watching a foolhardy boy wrong-foot a slimy wooden log and clang his legs either side, screaming bloody murder. What else would I want Facebook for?

Well, if we rewind a bit, like maybe about ten years or so, then I wanted it for photos, didn’t I? Facebook was for photos of nights out. Have a large one on the tiles, and the next morning you’ve got 265 photos - most of which are simply you with your arm around various people displaying differing levels of discomfort - to look at. This was what Facebook was for.

It was also for friending people you didn’t talk to - or possibly even like - at school (but hey, might as well now - gotta up that friend-count!) Thing is though, stalking silly old offbeat Horace got boring after his last Comic-Con, and the only person putting up photos from nights out anymore is your mum - Facebook in 2018 is very different. It’s simple: it’s for memes. Memes and fails, 24/7 - a never-ending scroll of slips and tumbles. Facebook is not what it used to be, but that’s fine by me - at least it still makes me laugh, and is that not what we’re all here for?

But that cyborg Zuckerberg has stuck his digital oar in and upended the whole thing - just got his big spanner and jammed it right into poor, trusty old Facebook’s chest, aggressively shoved it around, and skipped off into the sunset in his Roshes, oblivious to the damage he’s done. Now, the focus is on so-called ‘meaningful interactions’, hastily sidelining your favourite gif-filled wondergrounds in favour of a splurge of ‘content’ from your ‘friends’ and ‘family’. Facebook have made the executive decision to turn off these pages in your newsfeed. No more fun, just your friends and family.

No, though. Nope. That was then. We’ve moved on. I don’t want to look at you, with your holiday snaps - the holiday I wasn’t on. Your baby, there - the one I didn’t have. Your romantic getaway - the one you didn’t invite me to. I want dancing insects, dubious IQ quizzes and videos of people losing control on Segways.

We are human beings, narcissistic, self-absorbed human beings with a shared mentality - the One True Mindset - and if you don’t agree, you’re lying. You resolutely do not care about what anyone else is doing, do you? You care about what you are doing - which is why you obliviously stuck up that picture of a beige IKEA worktop you’d just assembled - but are you, if push came to shove, even remotely interested in a friend’s similar flat-pack furniture odyssey? You might convince yourself you are by giving the 13-strong photo album of tedium a cursory ‘Like’, but you don’t actually, truly care, do you?

Facebook's new algorithm is bad, so here's me whining about it 2

You, not getting your daily dose of memes

You don’t care at all, you just want a boy accidentally pressing the front brake on his bike and going over the handlebars. The simple stuff.

Oh, hark! It’s a picture of some keys! Wow you’ve got your first house, have you? I HAVEN’T. Remember when I didn’t post a picture of the black rubber stain on my bedroom ceiling from the time I kicked my shoe into it after stressing over a broken drawer? I didn’t do that, because nobody cares about where I live - they care, instead, about a baby being sick on her dad’s head, served to us by a funny Facebook page with a name that ends in “my dudes” or something.

If that very Facebook page had posted a picture of his head, dirty goo setting up shop in the middle of his crown, caption reading “Just got a new hat, my child baby gave it to me, from his mouth” I’d give it a thousand likes if I could, but that didn’t happen, because people are boring, people post close up pictures of keys, instead. Keys with a - get this! - blurred house in the background, so you can’t even see where they live, it’s irrelevant! You want my likes for keys?

Really, what I wouldn’t give to catch a sweet how-to video of a big bit of burger-meat with a truck load of cheese dripping all over it, and then chips on it, just loads of chips on it - but thanks to Facebook and that grey-t-shirt-wearing android Zuckerberg, it’s M.I.A, and we have to make do with some spurious video about your 2017 and all you have achieved in it, bring on 2018, let’s smash it! 

Lord, up there, in Heaven, is it too much to ask to just have a quick gif of a man falling into puddle? Can I have just that? No? Because Facebook wants to be ‘meaningful’ now? I can’t? I have to have someone’s opinion on the already done-to-death issue du jour? Please no, Facebook is not the place for opinions - don’t get into an argument on Facebook, please! The puddle man! I want the puddle man, for crying out loud.

So why, Zuckerberg, have you denied us our memes? I, with my own actual hand - I was controlling it and everything - pressed ‘Like’ on one of those ‘brand’ pages. I clicked my cute little finger down on that plastic mouse because I saw the way Facebook was heading, and I decided that this large collection of bog memes would helpfully dilute it. I wished to see more. I wished to forget. Stick my lovely comedy-blinkers on and let me scroll through actually enjoyable content - nothing close to home, nothing of any note, nothing that makes me actively dislike anyone. 

Facebook's new algorithm is bad, so here's me whining about it 1

You, wondering where all the memes went

I want more people hitting a rake on a gutter and getting shunted to the ground by a roof-full of snow. I want a video of The Rock shouting in a gym. I want weird, distorted images of SpongeBob SquarePants with nonsensical lettering plastered over the top to form a barely-recognisable ‘joke’ that I truly don’t even understand. These are the things I want, not your damn hot dog legs.

But look, and this is important; this should not signal the end of days - if we work together we can combat Zuckerberg’s assault on the current Facebook, his initiative that blindly fails to realise that most of his website is a flaming cesspool of sewage and horse chud. All we need to do is rectify our (your) posting habits, and we can offset the balance, and return things to a happy equilibrium.

To help you out, here’s a small but handy list of things it’s acceptable, and possibly welcome, to post:

  • Pictures of your cat or your dog
  • Pictures of someone else’s cat or dog
  • Pictures of a wild cat or dog
  • A funny video/meme/article you have found on the internet
  • A funny video/meme/article you have made all by yourself - in fact, anything you’ve made, as long as it’s moderately impressive (IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, btw, you are not the 21st century’s greatest architect)
  • Amusing pictures or videos of either you, or your friends, being a bit drunk and maybe knocking a chair over at a BBQ
  • The odd shameless boast - maybe you’re a doctor now, or something else important (no humble-brags though - if you’re going to show-off, be brazen about it - go very large, or go very home)
  • Literally anything you want, but only if you are specifically me, because my life is endlessly fascinating - for example, people care very much that I have tried the new WKD flavour (27 likes)

But more importantly:

  • Just think, have a proper think about what you would like to see, and if what you’re about to post (like that picture of your new car with you sitting in it, door open, one leg on the concrete) doesn’t fall within that category, then keep it to yourself

Of course, this won’t happen, and you’re going to push forward with your very specific solo quest to bait me, so hammer up that status update about your weekend away that consists of a large paragraph of mundane things you did, including private jokes, quotes, and ‘prosecco’, all separated by commas, and then sit back and put your feet up. More people are going to see it now! More people will hate-read it now!  More people are going to hurl their phones into the nearest fire now! But at least it’ll be ‘meaningful’ - cheers Mark!

(Images: iStock)

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the screaming thing though. @garyblogden

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