Facebook add-ons hinder users

Facebook add-ons hinder users

In my free time between class and my job as the Skiff’s chief recipient of hate mail, I like to surf the Web.Like any 21st century college student, Facebook is one of my favorite destinations. Between posting pictures, keeping up with friends from out of state and the time honored tradition of Facebook stalking, it’s like a restraining-order-free party that never stops.

During the summer, however, the streamlined and uniform look that made Facebook so popular received a major downgrade. All of a sudden, people were able to add all sorts of crazy applications to their pages.

Gone are the days of being able to write on someone’s wall instantaneously. Now you have to scroll through a seemingly endless number of useless features such as “My Blood’s Current pH Balance” and “Pet the Imaginary Kitty” before you can even come close to any sort of digital contact with another party. Not good.

Look, not all the new applications are bad. “Graffiti,” in which a user’s friends can draw pictures for them, is a great tool. Now I can draw pictures of the unicorns, princesses and rainbows that all of my friends seek.

The “My Heritage” tool is also great. Now the entire world can be privy to my English/Scottish/French/Dutch ancestry and the obvious fact that my ancestors had a thing for making babies with foreigners.

It’s the other things that make the proliferation of applications all over Facebook a pain. Not a day goes by where

someone I know or I don’t get an invitation to choose sides in the

“Ninjas versus Pirates Mega Destructive Super Apocalyptic Death War.” I’ll remain a conscientious spectator.

Ninjas and pirates aren’t the only thing clogging inboxes, though. Zombies are equally as guilty. Sometimes they bite you in the jugular, and you get to choose to join their posse, presumably hemorrhaging to death if you don’t. Other times they’ll play the diplomacy card and cordially invite you to join the zombie team. Either way, most people want no part of that.

Even when you find an application you like, it’s not all fun and games. To add nearly any feature to a profile, the user has to agree to a checklist full of items such as allowing the application to “know who I am and access my information,” “publish stories in my news feed and mini-feed” and “give my firstborn to Facebook.”

Disabling any item on the checklist may interfere with your ability to add the application.

Facebook’s effort to give users a way to personalize their pages is a noble one. But what’s to prevent the Facebook landscape from being pumped full of fluff and turning into another way-too-pimped-out-for-its-own-good social networking site like Myspace? There’s a line between personalization and anarchy.

What was once a utility for college students and professionals is now open to anyone with an e-mail address. Uniformity for the sake of use has given way to chaos and the “Honesty Box.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see customizable backgrounds and music that automatically starts whenever you visit the page become features by year’s end.

MySpace 2.0, here we come.

David Hall is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears Wednesdays.