Ya Bunch of Ingrates

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last week, Facebook revamped their design to include a scrolling quick-feed in the top right corner of their page so that, as my friend Brad put it, “You can stalk people up in the right corner of your page…while you’re stalking people on the left side of your page.” Exactly. They also updated the way that stories show up in your feed, discarding the old “Most Recent” and “Top Stories” dichotomy to blend them together. These are just a couple changes out of the drastic redesign. As you can guess, people were wrought up by this atrocity. They were happy with things the way they were. How dare Facebook change the whole site AGAIN? Every other status update spat vitriolic vocabulary about the redesign, every person being sure to vent their disapprobation of the social networking company. This uproar puzzled me. Why is everyone grabbing their pitchfork and torch over such a relatively minor change? After all, even as I’m writing this a week afterward, everyone has long forgotten their frustration and adapted, as they have every other time Facebook has updated the site. My friend Josh sent me this cartoon that encapsulates my thoughts precisely:

What is it about our human condition that we so naturally assume we deserve what we’re given? In this case, the problem looks something like this:

1) Facebook gave us a site to use freely (if you don’t count your private data being sold to advertisers ;))
2) Facebook changes some features of their product, which still costs nothing to the user
3) Facebook users become livid with Facebook for ruining their lives.

Somewhere between steps 1 and 3 there is a massive assumption on the part of users. Perhaps, instead, it ought to look like this:

1) Facebook gave us a site to use freely (if you don’t count your private data being sold to advertisers ;))
2) Facebook users assume that because they have been given the privilege of using the site for so long, they have earned the right to have everything about the site stay exactly the way they please.
3) Facebook changes some features of their product, which still costs nothing to the user.
4) Facebook users become livid with Facebook for ruining their lives.

But what sense does assumption 2 really make? On what grounds does the user deserve to have things stay the way they please? This reaction is akin to a child opening an iPod for Christmas and yelling at his parents that it’s not the right color. For some reason, when we have been given something for long enough, we escalate privilege to the level of right, and we’re furious when somebody steps on our supposed rights.

Don’t we tend to do this with everything in our lives? We hold a job for some time and we’re devastated when it’s lost. We have our health for our whole lives, and we’re destroyed when we find out we’re ill. We have a long, happy relationship and it crumbles. But were we ever right to assume these, or are we guilty of equating blessings with rights? Are we not merely users in God’s cosmic free site?

“”Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”” -Job 38:4-7

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