If history is any indication, this structural change to the Facebook layout will be the downfall of the website, causing all of its users to protest, demand revision, and, when their demands are not met, deactivate their accounts en masse, effectively destroying Facebook. I think we all remember how disastrous past adjustments to the Facebook experience have been: remember how great the website was when Facebook only allowed certain Ivy Leaguers to sign up? Okay, bad example. But whatever happened to the joy of clicking through hundreds of your friends' profiles for hours on end to discover any new activity, a time killer that the dreaded News Feed rendered obsolete? The addition of high school students, Facebook applications and games, your mom; I mean, my God, Facebook! The inclusion of Status Updates was so bad that Martin Scorsese, who was originally slated to direct The Social Network, dropped out in protest, and Columbia Pictures could only get the guy who directed Alien 3 and the music video for Paula Abdul's "Straight Up Now Tell Me" to fill in for him.
And while this new look for the Facebook profile will inevitably end Facebook as a website and cultural phenomenon, let's take a closer look at it, anyway, if only for the benefit of future anthropologists and Internet historians wishing to know what finally caused Facebook to so suddenly lose all popularity.
After the jump, a tour of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad new Facebook profile layout.
Yes, a tour. Wait, what? Seriously, Facebook? The new profile requires a tour? A tour? The only things that are so huge and intricate that they require tours are art museums, culinary neighborhoods, and the mountains of France via bicycle. The most popular site in the world shouldn't need a tour; it's not the Great Wall of China, it's a webpage.
No, you know what? It's true that this tour shouldn't even exist, but not because the makers of Facebook shouldn't have been forced to make it: If you need a guided tour of a single webpage in order to navigate it, chances are you should just cancel your Facebook account now, as you are too stupid to be using this website and are going to inevitably, totally ignorantly post something so mindblowingly self-incriminating that you are going to get fired from your job, separated from your spouse, or arrested/murdered. In fact, if it takes a pop-up bubble to point out to you where your name is going to appear on the new Facebook, maybe you should just unplug your wireless router, your ethernet, your FiOS cable, whatever, and just back away from the computer screen, turn on those reruns of Kids Jeopardy you Tivo'ed a while back, and take it easy for the night. No more hollerin' at Farmville biddies for the next few hours, ok?
"You profile begins with your name; then where you studied; then where you live; then where you're from; then your birth date; then your current work information; then the languages you speak; then a button that enables you to edit this information."
First of all, if Facebook really wanted to allow me to introduce myself, they would have approved my name change to "HOV--'H' to the 'O-V'" about three years ago. I do like this new profile, I will say, because it does let me claim to have once "pushed snowflakes by the O-Z." At least those nerds are doing something right.
On the other hand, I find the "Add your current work information" to be oppressive to the point of bullying. As an "out-of-work" "writer" living in the "state" of "New" Jersey--as someone who hasn't woken up before 3 P.M. since August and hasn't seen a need to brush his hair since high school graduation--what, indeed, am I expected to fill in for my "current work information"? That I scrubbed clean the microwave yesterday? That I am looking for job leads in the "SNL Head Writer" industry? That I've been thinking about it for a long time, but that I've finally decided who my memoir is going to be dedicated to, and that now all I have to do is write the darn thing, and I'll be an author? Shouldn't Facebook have a cookie that calculates the amount of time one spends on the site after 1 A.M. on weekdays that lets it know when someone is clearly, clearly unemployed and has nothing to wake up for in the mornings? Let's work on that algorithm, Silicon Valley.
This photo stream at the top of the page is designed, according to Zucks, to "show friends what you've been up to." Well, friends, as you can see, in the recent past, I've been up to sitting on a couch, standing in a dark room, and wearing a helmet outside somewhere.
You know what? That does pretty much sum up the last two months. Did I mention I was unemployed?
I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the potential for pranks that this new five-picture scheme presents:
Good job, everyone.
Oh, really, can I share even more about my work experiences? I do like the idea that I can "include the friends who were there with" me during my various "experiences." I would advise my Facebook friends to be on guard over the coming weeks, as I am sure to implicate some of you--especially those of you with good jobs--in some of the nastiest, most unsavory, unethical exploits you or your boss could ever imagine. "Will not having attended Princeton University or George Walton Comprehensive High School save me" you may be wondering. No, it won't; I was there when we got coked up, boarded Senator Joe Biden's Amtrak car in Dover, and organized [via Foursquare] an all-male all-nude a capella rendition of "Hey Joe" until we were kicked off the train naked in East Baltimore and taken in custody; I was there, and I saw you, man. We shared that experience; we shared the shit out of it.
Thank the deities that this is now all in the same place! Navigation was such a chore on the old Facebook: you had your photos on the left, then your Wall was, like, an inch to the right, and you had to find that, and then the notes were somewhere under the photos on the left column, totally impossible to find (unless you know how to use Ctrl+F). Don't even get me started about the Gifts box. I mean, by the time I could even think about looking for a list of someone's friends, I would be cold asleep, having worn myself out from hours and hours of searching around for the "Like" button.
Now, though, all these pages are stacked right on top of each other, like various meats on a deli sandwich that you can shove in your mouth all at once. There are some people that are very picky about which foods touch which on their dinner plates--they don't want their mashed potatoes touching their peas, and they don't want their peas touching their salad dressing, etc. etc. If you are one of these people, the new Facebook's not for you, man. This shit's for omnivores who enjoy a life of convenience. Everyone else step away, or else you're going to swallow some Ranchy pea-potatoes.
This new layout is good news for me: the profile is "more visual," which is apparently Facebookese for "less reading." And as you can tell by the lack of favorite books, I hate reading. Pretty soon, we will only be able to write on each other's walls using pictures, emoticons, and screen grabs from "ICanHasACheezburger."
If you are wondering why I haven't listed any of my favorite books, movies, or TV shows, it's because I'm waiting to hear what Mystery from The Pick-Up Artist tells me I should list. That's how I live my life. Also, I'm waiting for "those Skechers Shape-Ups commercials with Karl Malone" to be listed as a TV show.
No, Facebook, thank you for taking me on a tour of your new profile--for a while there, I thought, "Man, I'll never be able to figure out how to navigate this new layout, because I can't read and have absolutely no sense of intuition whatsoever, and so the operation of this webpage is totally unclear to me!" But, again, thank the deities, say an Amazing Grace(book), whatever, that Zucky saw fit to give a tour of his new layout, which is perhaps the Finnegans Wake of social media profile-page layouts. Here's hoping an annotated version authored by Harold Bloom is forthcoming.
As I said before, this will all be irrelevant in two weeks, by which time there will be 2,500,000 users in the "BRING BACK THE OLD LAYOUT!!! ONE MILLION STRONG!!!" group on Facebook, at which point ZucklePunch will defend the new layout via blog post, at which point everyone in the world will stop using the site forever, costing Zuck Finn billions and billions of dollars, all because he insisted on forcing yet another inscrutable, indefensible infrastructural change on us Facebookers. Seriously, Zuckerberg: haven't we Jews suffered enough?
In conclusion, I'm sad to see that Facebook will no longer be a relevant website come 2011. It was fun while it lasted, and I successfully alienated my fair share of friends, lovers, employers and coworkers with it while I was a member. And if there is any consolation we can take from Zuckerberg's fall, it is that this all but ensures a sequel to the wildly successful and excellent The Social Network. And though they won't be able to get a top-flight director like Lynch or Tarantino, I hear that the guy who did The Game with Michael Douglas is free.