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I’ve lately noticed several symptoms of a premature slide into curmudgeonhood — frustration at trying to converse in restaurants that play music loudly, which in New York City is most of them; a dislike of mass-market documentary techniques; and the hipsters! Don’t get me started — but the most fully-formed is my relation to Facebook, which combines both bafflement and distaste.

My failure to understand why people spend so much time on Facebook is, of course, only a function of my own particular — and, perhaps, slightly misanthropic — manner of sustaining relationships. I’m in no hurry to base a case on it. History isn’t kind to those crabby souls unable to recognize that time passes and tastes change, that one can’t always extrapolate the experience of others from the perspective of self.

My distaste, on the other hand, I consider valid. And though my reasons are many and inchoate, I can at least name one: the user interface, with its stock Web 2.0-minimalist blue-on-white theme, simple underlying grid and ubiquitous advertisements. It feels like a corporate office or, at best, a corporate office cafeteria. That’s not where I choose to spend time with friends.

Sure, the office is well-designed; it’s full of glass and steel and bamboo; it’s the sort of office one sees in movies set in Midtown Manhattan. And like a visit to Midtown, I come away from Facebook feeling a bit emptier, a bit more alienated, than when I arrived.

Image: Budi Akbarsjah

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