Friday, September 23, 2011

An Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg:

I was going to say, "You don't know me, but..." but that would be an inaccurate salutation.  Chances are you know more about me than most people. 

First of all, I want you to know that I am grateful for you. Facebook has given me the opportunity to know and connect with people in a way I never imagined possible. Like millions of other people, my life is better because of your invention. Thank you.

I watched you via livestream yesterday as you gave your f8 presentation. I don't know what f8 is, but I'm guessing its a really cool technological seminar.  Good job.  Clearly your team worked hard to pull that whole presentation together!

I do have some thoughts on your new format, and Facebook in general, if you'll indulge me.

I've been doing some research.  It appears your average Facebook user is about 38 years old.  38!  Now, I know you have oodles of information and data, but I'm not sure you understand 38-year-olds.  I'm coming up on 35, so let me share with you how I'm feeling.  I think I speak for a many of your average users.  Here's the thing, Mark:  We're smart, but we're busy.

I'm 35, and I'm a parent, and I'm a professional.  I'm very busy with my kids and don't get many opportunities to get out of my house to socialize.  Facebook is my daily coffee break, my communication with my friends, my opportunity to maintain friendships with men and women I don't have the time in my busy parenting and professional life.  It is, truly, my social network.  I realized something really important the past couple don't know what it's like to not have social networking as an adult.  But you know what?  WE DO.  We were without these people, these connections for 15+ years of our adult life.  And we really want to keep it.

I'm 35, and I like things to be simple.  Between making school lunches, and paying bills, and cleaning my kitchen floor, I don't have time for Complicated.  I'm a work-at-home Mom, so I have snippets of time between work-work and home-work to check in on my friends and family online.  You don't need me to tell you that Myspace didn't work because of the clutter.  Facebook has kept away from that, and there is no doubt in my mind that the streamlined format has been one of its biggest assets.  Easy for 35-year-old women like me.

I'm worried about the new layout, Mark. 

You say it's a way to showcase our life.  Let me tell you, I'm far less interested in showcasing my life as I am maintaining my social network.  My relationships.  But if half of my friends can't use Facebook any longer, and leave, then Facebook no longer serves its purpose for me, either. 

You know who the new layout is perfect for?  Every smart 20-something who works for you.  It's a beautiful product.  Particularly for young, smart-phone using college students.  But you know that that's not your only demographic.  And I certainly am not that user.  I've got kids to read to!  I've got cookies to bake!

I have to hand it to you, Z.  A lot of people have gotten really rich from Facebook.  And I don't pay you a fee to use the service, but I still pay you.  My information is invaluable to your advertisers.  Heaven knows they pay you a lot of money to obtain it.  And you're welcome to it, because it's been a fair trade for the networking I've been given.  But don't be fooled -- I'm not oblivious to it.  I know that you have to give your advertisers/partners what they want...and you're probably always going to have to keep changing to excite them.

I'd just encourage you, while you're servicing them, please don't forget about us. 

I imagine when you come into work in the morning, and you talk to all the other 20-somethings, most likely the smartest tech people in the world, you guys are so excited to discuss the next big thing.  And your creative juices flow until that is satisfied.  God bless you -- I certainly appreciate you contribution to the world.  All I ask is that when you're deciding what to do next, consider how this program works for me.  We've put up with an awful lot of changes because there is nothing out there to compete with it (yet). 

I can only speak for myself, but I'm not trying to sell anything on Facebook.  I'm not looking for a spouse, nor a job.  There are different online sites for that.  I don't need my site to look like I am.  I just want to continue to sit in my virtual living room and share ideas and support with my friends (who range in age from 10 ( if everyone is the required age) to 75.  I need these people, Mark.  Don't make it hard for them to stay here.

Carry on.  Be well.




Ang Campbell said...

bravo! bravo! bravo!! so perfectly explained and articulated!

Ally said...

I said a few of these things just yesterday as a rebuttal to someone who told me to stop whining. I say, you are SPOT ON!

mom of many said...

very well said!

Kori said...


Leslie G. said...

please oh please oh please oh please paste this into a note so we can share it without sharing your blog world wide unless you really want us to. You are such an articulate writer and you said it all perfectly.