If you've been checking your Facebook wall lately and wondering what the ---- (insert your own favorite four-letter expletive here) is going on, you're not alone.
I've been using Facebook for a good six years now, and like many folks, I use it primarily to keep track of what's going on with my family and friends.
Early on, I liked the fact that in one quick scan, in the morning or evening, I could scroll through my wall (or newsfeed, or whatever the hell they're calling it these days).
When Facebook got more aggressive with their advertising, working to "monetize" the "stream" with personalized ads, I figured my seeing ads for new Calloway drivers was the price of admission.
No worries, that's a fair "exchange" in value.
But with the most recent changes to the News Feed algorithm, I feel as though I've entered into a living, breathing version of the movie Memento.
If you never saw the movie, check it out.
Guy Pierce stars as a character named "Leonard Shelby," a man with anterograde amnesia. The movie is told chronologically, but interspersed with scenes told in reverse chronological order.
I won't give away too much about the plot, but suffice it to say it involves a murder, and Leonard resorts to consulting Polaroids, notes, and tattoos to try and put the story back together in his mind.
It's very confusing and disconcerting, and only at the end does the story all start to come together.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I would characterize the "new and improved" Facebook wall, only in the real Facebook world, nothing is really coming together.
Like Leonard, I went in search of answers to find out what was going on, only instead of resorting to tattoos, of which I have none, I started looking around on the web (and *outside* of Facebook!).
Two of the changes announced in August centered around what were referred to as "Story Bumping" and "Last Actor."
Story Bumping involved bring to the fore stories that you hadn't yet seen because they were "below the fold" (or, not on the top of your Wall).
The second, Last Actor, involved a weighting of the last 50 engagements of a user, giving more weight to people and pages the user had recently interacted with.
But as Ezra Klein recently observed in his Washington Post "WonkBlog," this seems to have had some unintended consequences, ones that are making me feel more and more like Leonard from Memento every day.
Klein writes, "There's so much more viral content being launched and so much more competition to one-up the last viral headline that the emotional pitch of the news feed has been cranked to 11."
People then hit the "Like" button on this content, which only makes it MORE popular, and suddenly Facebook becomes a harbinger of real-time sensationalism, instead of allowing me to find out that the freckled kid Fred from high school recently bought himself a new rattlesnake.
It kind of reminds me of CNN, which once upon a time aired actual news.
In any case, maybe I don't want to Like Fred's new rattlesnake news -- maybe I just want to be informed that Fred HAS a new rattlesnake.
Remember that old marketing campaign that MCI ran for years, "Friends and Family"?
That's what I want my Facebook wall to look like again.
Not the latest from Kanye and Kim.
If you'll excuse me now, I need to run down to one of Austin's finest tattoo parlors and get some tattoos so I can try and put together what's actually going on on my Facebook wall.
Oh, and don't forget to Like this blog post on Facebook, whether you did or not!