Every week, we get thousands of notifications on Facebook, and because our lives are privileged and lonely, we pay attention to them. Everyone has commented on everything. It is everybody's birthday today. Everyone but you has had a baby and is also celebrating their four-year anniversary with a decent human being. Facebook is a constant hum of people begging for your attention without looking you in the eyes.
If that's not enough, the network puts you in the awkward situation of dealing with a constant flow of hellish invites. A high school friend wants you to come to their pre-engagement party. The barista from the coffee shop down the street has invited you to visit his new art gallery composed entirely of Lolcats and pictures of trees at the zoo. Your aunt really, really, really wants you to play Candy Crush Saga. And of course, some asshole wants you to like their band.
Maybe you do it, maybe you don't. Personally, I now refuse to like bands on Facebook -- even if it's a group I adore. While I could probably stack about a hundred reasons on top of my mighty throne of musical morality, let's start with a list of six reasons why I won't like your band on Facebook.
6. Facebook Extorts Money From Bands
I've always joked that if Google was going to take over the world, it would probably be a lot better than most of the corporations that currently run things. Seemingly, Google operates under the platform that what is good for the user is good for Google. While behind the scenes they may be running a clandestine operation designed to further the reptilian aliens through the suppression of fourth-dimensional tryptamine gnomes, on the front end, they seem to recognize that by serving their customers they will instill a loyalty that serves them.
Facebook, on the other hand, views its members as things to be exploited. Your sister's newly launched and still struggling cupcake bakery has been suckered into believing they need a Facebook page and with that, Facebook requires payment in order to allow their posts and updates to get to their subscribers -- the people they've asked to "like" their page and who have done so because they wish to support this business. And while showing people these updates actually helps Facebook by forcing you to flush more of your time on their network, it isn't enough. They want money. It isn't enough that you put in some effort to support their site by inviting people.
It's the same story with bands. And because people are still clinging to the absurd notion that being in a band is a viable way to earn money (it never was and never will be), Facebook still makes money the good ol' American way: by exploiting people's hopes and dreams. So unless you're part of this delusional constituency, why would I even bother liking your band on Facebook? As they restrict the reach of your posts, I'm unlikely to see them anyway. It does nothing.
5. I Can't Tell If I Actually Like It
Remember that two- or three-year period when Myspace was dying but was still a fairly useful site because you could listen to bands? It was a holy period in which you could hear virtually any artist, no matter how obscure, through the reliable and easily navigable Myspace music player. It was also, from a band perspective, far more useful. Click through a band's Top Eight and you can easily find a fistful of new music, already approved by the band, through which you learned about them. The Bulletins feature, which served as a basic News Feed in which you decided whether or not you were interested in the status update by clicking the headline, was also vital in helping bands book tours. Myspace was stupid, but it was a good tool for bands.
Is there a music player on Facebook? Who knows. Could be. But evidently it sucks to the point where both you and your favorite bands can't find it.
More importantly, who cares, when you could be spending your time peering into the inner lives of former co-workers who you hate yet have always been strangely attracted to.
4. You Can Just Buy Facebook Likes
My friends' band, Much Worse, is excellent, but because it plays fairly intricate, hardcore punk, there isn't exactly a gigantic opportunity for it to roll around in piles of money and genitals. As a prank, I started using a website called Fiverr to purchase the group a ridiculous amount of Facebook likes from the country of Turkey. Going from 500 to 22,000 likes, the band believed it was spontaneously popular over in the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It also landed them the incredible opportunity to open for the band Green Jelly out in some suburban strip mall, probably for an audience of 30 people. The promoter of the show incorrectly assumed that they were a huge band.
In other words, Facebook likes don't mean shit. If they were important, you couldn't just buy them.
3. It Makes Me Look Dumb
We're all a little vain deep down inside. The fact that you actually have a Facebook, which serves little function aside from broadcasting to the world who you are and how you feel, think, eat, etc., is proof that you've enjoyed a mirror at least once in your life. Asking me to like your band is essentially the same as asking me to wear a patch of your face on my jacket. It's an endorsement -- something that declares to the world that I support you. That's quite a commitment.
I tear the tags off my Levi's because they aren't paying me to wear them, so I'm definitely not going to plaster your likely terrible music across something that represents me as a courtesy to you. Besides, what if someone in your band pulls a Lostprophets Dude and tries to have sex with a baby? I can't take that risk -- too much is at stake.
2. It Makes You Look Dumb
There is something inherently unattractive about watching people try. By taking the time to ask me to gaze into your perfect art project, I'm instinctively uninterested. Granted, a huge part of life has to do with one's ability to self-promote, and there is no graceful way to say, "Hey, join others in worshiping me by signing up for my fan club." However, it is incredibly fun to ignore the fuck out of people who are begging for your attention.
1. I Don't Care
I use Facebook to tell jokes, to try to get people to like me more, or to distribute articles that I write. It is a selfish, shitty network -- just like Myspace, just like Friendster, just like Makeoutclub. Occasionally it does something good, but 99 percent of it is self-congratulatory garbage. Blah blah blah, everything sucks; nothing matters. If you want a favor, ask me to go to your show or ask me to tell you where to get your shirts printed so you won't get ripped off. Ask me for a beer. Ask me for a contact to book a good basement show in Buffalo, New York. But please, don't ask me to like your band on Facebook.
Follow Drew Ailes on Twitter @CountBakula.
GIMME NOISE'S GREATEST HITS