My email to Facebook
If you’re one of the people who follows me on Facebook (thanks by the way), chances are you almost certainly don’t see every one of my posts – or more to the point, don’t even get the opportunity to see all of them. There’s also quite a good chance you get the chance to see fewer than half. In fact there’s some chance you see none at all and you’re reading this post because you also follow me on a more dependable service like Twitter, Google+ or email.
And it shits me up the wall.
This Guardian article gives a really good summary of how and why it happens. It also reveals that I’m by no means the first person who’s thought of writing a letter to Facebook about this very topic. (But let’s be honest, blogging smart-arse emails was never sparklingly original, anyway.)
Anyway, I wrote one. It’s undoubtedly my most self-indulgent, tangential and metaphorically jumbled yet. You’ll bloody love it.
Have you ever come across the proverb “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”? What am I talking about? Of course you have. You’re Facebook; you know everything.
Anyway, I think it’s a stupid phrase. If you can’t eat cake that you’ve been given or made, what’s the point of having it in the first place? What’s the point of cake full stop? Why was cake ever invented as a foodstuff if it was never supposed to be eaten?
And if the meaning of the saying is, in fact, you can’t retain a cake and its value as a saleable product if you’ve eaten it, that’s almost as silly. A cake is just about the most perishable of all perishable goods. There’s no point holding on to it. Every hour it goes uneaten its cream gets fouler and its icing crustier. Leaving a cake in the fridge hoping to flog it at a later date is utter madness.
Now, Wikipedia tells me that there are numerous alternative proverbs meaning essentially the same thing. One of them, from Denmark, is “You cannot both blow and have flour in your mouth.” I have absolute faith that this is true and correct and that nothing has been lost in translation. I consider it an eminently sensible version of the “You can’t have it both ways” maxim.
Keep that in mind when I get to my point at some stage in the eleventh paragraph.
Facebook, I’m not a greedy man. I’m a humble blogger. Some would say the best humble blogger in the southern hemisphere, but let’s not quibble over whether I’m the best, second best or third best. The point is I am a humble blogger with a modest goal: I merely want to scatter my iconic brand of highly literate sarcasm to the adoring public like sunflower seeds to ecstatic crimson rosellas in that little forest up in the Dandenongs. (My brother and I used to call it the Birdie Park when we were little.) Have you been there? What am I talking about? Of course you’ve been to the Birdie Park. You’re Facebook; you’ve been everywhere.
As a humble blogger, I don’t advertise and don’t have any money to spend on advertising so I’ve had to build my reputation using social media, one of them being your channel. After some luck with a Shakespearean drunk on a tram, a letter to the tram company and the best customer service response in the history of humankind, I have managed to build up a bit of a Facebook crowd. Some would call it a community, others a multitudinous legion of devotees. Again, quibbles.
Now, I’m not a logician or behavioural expert, but I’m fairly certain that when members of this group/thriving congregation make the decision to like my page they do so because they like my page. Am I working on a fallacious assumption here?
Here’s what I’m thinking happens in the lead-up to and immediately following a standard like of the Haught Facebook page:
- Prospective Liker reads one of my now-famous emails to well-known companies or buffoonish individuals
- Prospective Liker finds my turn of phrase beguiling and my understated self-assurance comforting
- Prospective Liker seeks out my Facebook page
- Prospective Liker presses ‘Like’
- Liker hopes to occasionally see some of my posts from that moment on
This brings me to the Danish proverb. I don’t think I’m asking for much, Facebook. I signed up to your service simply wishing to shove some of White Wings’ finest into my gob. And that’s it. Nothing more. I never mentioned anything about blowing. If I’d wanted the best of both worlds I would have begun my email with something like this:
Please show all of my posts to every one of my followers and let them decide to unfollow me if they don’t like what I offer. Also, please separate my posts into a discrete stream, away from the swill that we might describe as Standard Facebook. (This new stream could be called Facebook Premium or maybe Acebook if you want to appeal to the group I believe we now know as “Millennials”.) You see, my content is of a rare standard and I don’t want it anywhere near the contaminant that is 75% of Facebook status updates – the references to morning commercial television, the repeated use of the word “awesome”, the sports betting ads, and the earnest selfies, oh those self-conscious selfies, like a neverending cascade of narcissistic vomit consisting only of gorgonzola cheese and over-cooked broccoli and some rancid camel dick (why were they eating camel dick in the first place – that’s what I want to know?).
That, I think we can agree, would have been greedy and silly, some kind of flour-in-the-mouth-while-blowing fantasy gone mad. But that’s not what I’m asking for. I’m simply asking for more than a small fraction of my loving fans seeing what I put on Facebook as a matter of course.
And it’s not as if I’m coming to you having not tried to indulge your feted (or should that be foetid?) algorithm.
I’ve tried posting daily.
I’ve tried sharing stuff by The Oatmeal.
I’ve tried posting articles accompanied by outrageously beautiful images of waterfalls.
I’ve even resorted to posting a picture of my cat. And it was a “good” picture too. He had forced his way onto my legs while I was slaving away over one of the written works that you never show anybody and I managed to take a photo of him on my lap with my bluetooth keyboard on top of his bulbous, silken-furred body. AND ONLY ONE IN FOUR OF MY FOLLOWERS SAW IT! And that was, comparatively speaking, quite a high level of what you call “reach” for my page.
So, that’s it; I’m not playing your stupid little algorithmic games any more. They’re clearly rigged.
And unrealistic. I mean, posting numerous times a day. Are you kidding? Do you know how long it’s taken me just to get to here in this email? Seven weeks! I started writing it in January. It took me a day to write the above paragraph alone – and it’s two fucking words long. And you want me to post daily, at least? And then you want people to remember to return from this glorious shit to Facebook and like or share or comment or otherwise “join the conversation”. What? The only conversation they’ll be joining is the one with their housemate or partner apologising for having wet the couch, either with amusement urine or admiration juice.
And the alternative is just as shithouse. Paying? Come on. You’re off your chops, aren’t you? You seriously think I’m going to pay to get my stuff seen by the people who have already, by liking my page, made it abundantly clear that they want to see my stuff?
There’s less chance of me touching the Boost Post button you so transparently want me to press than of me touching a button marked Donate to the Carlton Football Club or Find Out More About Gun Ownership.
You have gone mad with power. You had flour in your mouth, but you weren’t happy with that. You wanted to turn that flour into a cake. While it was in your mouth. You wanted to mix in the egg and sugar and heated butter and orange rind and vanilla essence and somehow use your mouth as both a Mixmaster and then as an oven. And after forty-five minutes to an hour you wanted to eat the cake with the mouth that you’d just incomprehensibly used to bake it while paradoxically retaining it as a saleable item while impossibly retaining the flour, while blowing… probably fire or glitter or additional cakes out your mouth.
I think of you, Facebook, as a mighty leviathan, ruler of the seas of social media, unhurried, unworried, unchallenged. I am but a humble blogger – perhaps the best humble blogger in the southern hemisphere – traipsing through the desert of the internet, head down, occasionally forlornly looking towards the ocean for my mouth flour, knowing it will never come.
No, but seriously, Acebook – think about it.
Yours in a shared loved of cynicism,
PS: Have you ever killed anybody for ridiculing your barefaced greed via email? What am I talking about? You’re Facebook…
Genuinely think I’m half a chance of getting a response from Zuckerberg himself here.
…or choose one that takes your fancy from the list below:
My email to Yarra Trams
My email to Metro Trains
My email to Microsoft
My email to Coles
My (unsent) email to the Victorian Department of Transport
My email to Alan Jones
My email to Kyle Sandilands
My email to Gasp Jeans
My email to Jim Beam
My email to Ben Polis
My email to Hoo haa Bar
My email to Weis ice creams
My email to some tobacco companies
My email to Margaret Court
My email to KFC