Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
January 105+5 , 2008


Soapbox, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love Facebook

Maybe I’m increasing the signal-to-noise ratio at Facebook?

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile probably know of my contempt for so-called “social networking” sites. If they were merely about getting in touch with long-lost friends and looking up someone’s e-mail address, and maybe even bragging about how many favorite colors you have, I’d have no problem with MySpace, Facebook, and the like. But they’re run by for-profit companies, of course, and that means they need a way to monetize our eyeballs. My eyeballs don’t want to be monetized.

I once described social networking sites as “one giant, conflated popularity contest”. I still think that’s the case with MySpace, but Facebook has since been more cunning about its whole business. You can easily find fault with a service where you’re encouraged to maintain a tell-all profile, add as many “friends” as possible, and chitchat with them, but do nothing much else. Facebook, however, caters not only to the super-vain among us, but also to those who have something better to do there. Applications. Facebook is a bazaar, and there’s something for everyone at a bazaar.

This blog has been my soapbox for nearly six years, but after high school, its readership declined considerably, not helped by the fact that Google relegated it to the second page of results for my name. That’s where Facebook came in. Although I was initially wary of its terms of service, Facebook was an irresistible distribution channel for my blog. I relented, and now it’s where the majority of my readers come from.

People are quitting Facebook cold turkey. But as much as I’d like to follow suit one of these days – having already backed up everything I’ve ever done on the site with the glory that is ScrapBook – I can’t quite leave yet, because along with Facebook would go my audience: you. My profile stays, for now. As much as I dislike their tactics, I know how the record labels must feel, so beholden to Apple for sales.

Soapboxes exist to tell everyone what they didn’t know they wanted to hear. If you stand on one, you scream at the top of your lungs, at every chance you get. It’s too bad Facebook just happens to be holding the donation hat.


  1. Minh’s Notes


    Wikipedia&rqsuo;s page design, Facebook’s new user profiles, and why both are flawed.

  2. Minh’s Notes is now responsible for the most pointless use of the word “app” in recorded history.