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Facebook’s Top Stories Create A Whole New Social Minefield

By / 09.11.12

I’d like to take a break from talking about Apple products and the latest way the government is planning to molest your privacy like it took you to the back room at Disneyland to talk about how Facebook, completely by accident, has created an entirely new way to make somebody you know hate your guts, and worse, have good reason to.

I recently got back in touch with an acquaintance. Nice guy, kept up with him on Facebook, or so I thought, and I asked if he and his wife wanted to play at an event I’m putting together. He told me that he and his wife no longer played together, which turned out to be a very nice way of saying “Yeah, I’m getting divorced.”

Which brings us to the new minefield here, which Facebook is helping to create — really, the implication here, and the embarrassment, is that I should have known this already.

Talking to friends about this I found I was far from alone. Everybody had pretty much put their foot in it with somebody not perhaps close, but theoretically in their social orbit, usually over something pretty major. One person didn’t know an acquaintance had miscarried, bringing social media awkwardness to new heights.

The problem is that Facebook creates a false sense of keeping up, for all of us. Most people see posts from acquaintances and assume that things are smooth sailing, but the reality is, most people do not relentlessly post about their life being in turmoil, and if they do you probably hide them from your feed because you don’t care. They usually do a one-and-done post, if that, and if you miss that, either you’ll catch a vague reference to what’s happening and read their profile for the first time in months… or you’ll miss it completely. And thus, the social land mine is laid.

Again, I don’t fault Facebook for this. The Top Stories algorithm is designed to feature people who it thinks you want to see and, let’s face it, for most of us that list is pretty short. But, we’re there, we’re public, so yeah, we’ll friend this guy we met at a party for two hours. He seems nice. Maybe he’s cool. Then we never think about him until we ask how his business is doing and he tells us it collapsed two years ago.

Remember when social media was supposed to make staying close to people easier?

TAGSawkwardnessSocial Mediasocial mine field

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