Through their constant tinkering, Facebook has foisted a lot of unpopular features on us over the years (Ticker, anyone?). But to me, the worst is the new Story function.
Excuse me, “story.” Those should read as air quotes. The biggest, most sarcastic air quotes you’ve ever seen. Dr. Evil-style air quotes.
Why has this feature earned my bitter enmity? Several reasons. But first, some quick background.
What is the Story Function?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just look to very top of your Facebook feed (top right column in the desktop version).
Depending on the extent to which your friends have inflicted their stories (“stories”) upon you, you’ll see a series of bubbles encircling their profile/cover images. That means they’ve got a “story” to share.
When someone posts a “story,” it stays perched atop your page for 24 long, long hours.
The feature has been around for about a year, but Facebook recently raised the stakes by giving us the option when posting a picture or video to make it a “story.” Since they’ve been pushing this feature harder I’ve noticed a definite uptick in the number I see.
Here’s why I hate them.
1. These Are NOT Stories
First, as someone who teaches storytelling in my books and workshops, I can assure you that 99.99999% of the “stories” I see are not stories. Just to be clear, the following things are emphatically NOT stories:
- A picture of your cat (no matter how adorable she is) or your lunch
- A video marketing your business
- A trite observation along the lines of “Who hates Mondays?” accompanied by a GIF
I know I’m being pedantic about this, but stories are about character and conflict and human interest and all the rest. For reference, this is what a story is.
2. They Don’t Merit “Top of Feed” Placement
Second, their placement at the top of the page (FOR 24 HOURS) suggests an importance wholly out of line with what most of these “stories” deliver, since most of them are indistinguishable from ordinary, everyday Facebook content.
3. They’re Obnoxious and Intrusive
There’s a thing called “permission marketing,” the definition of which is pretty clear. It means you have to have an audience’s permission to market to them. So you can’t, say, add them to your mass email list without getting their explicit okay.
Putting yourself at the top of my Facebook page (FOR 24 HOURS!!) is a serious violation of that principle. It’s like walking into a party and interrupting a conversation to yell, “Hey, look at me!”
4. They Won’t Go Away!
To continue with the party analogy, if you do look at the person yelling, he won’t go away. And if you ignore him, he STILL WON’T GO AWAY.
He’s stuck there, FOR 24 HOURS, hogging valuable real estate, eyeballs, mindshare, whatever you want to call it.
Honestly, I’d start looking at more of these “stories” if it meant they’d disappear afterwards, but THEY WON’T.
5. Facebook Gives Me No Control
If I decide I don’t care for someone’s posts on Facebook, I have a few options. I can unfriend them, I can mute them in my feed permanently with the “unfollow” function, or I can take advantage of the recently added “30 day snooze” function to put them to sleep for a while.
With “stories,” I don’t have that option. I can’t turn off the feature itself or get rid of individual stories.
The only choice I have is to unfriend, unfollow or snooze each of these “storytellers” individually. Which I have done for persistent “story” tellers, but pretty soon I’m going to run out of Facebook friends in my feed!
Please Make it Stop
So I’m begging you: stop posting your “stories.” Alternatively, create actual compelling stories and post those. But just don’t force me to stare at them all day — make them a regular part of your feed.