March 26, 2012 at 11:42 AM ET
Let's face it. Not everyone you're "friends" with on Facebook is really your friend. What's more, there's plenty of stuff on the social network and in real life that you don't "like."
Acknowledging that the real world isn't such a rosy place, a college professor has created EnemyGraph, a Facebook plug-in that highlights the things (and people) that generate dislikes.So gripers, if you're sick of all the positive vibes on Facebook, EnemyGraph is the perfect app for you!
Not only does it the app let you add Facebook friends you really (or jokingly) consider "enemies," it also lets you dislike pages, groups, celebrities, movies, bands, etc. You can also see who or what on Facebook is most "disliked" by other users.
Some of the top "Trending Enemies" on the app include the Westboro Baptist Church, the "Twilight" series by Stephanie Meyer (I'd be willing to admit a dislike of sparkly vampires, though I am entertained by the movies) and racism.
Dean Terry -- director of the new Emerging Media + Communications program in The School of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas -- is the instigator behind EnemyGraph, which begins with the assumptions that mutual dislikes connect people as much as they things they like.
"Most social networks attempt to connect people based on affinities: you like a certain band or film or sports team, I like them, therefore we should be friends. But people are also connected and motivated by things they dislike. Alliances are created, conversations are generated, friendships are stressed, stretched, and/or enhanced."
EnemyGraph is a critique the social philosophy of Facebook. On it’s developer splash page Facebook invites us to “Hack the Graph” - and so we did. We give them a couple of weeks at best before they shut us down for broadening the conversation and for “utilizing community, building conversation, and curating identity” their three elements of social design. EnemyGraph is a kind of social media blasphemy.
The ironic thing is - and this is a byproduct of the project rather than the intention - we are generating a whole new set of personal data that could potentially be mined. I found it a compelling tool for self expression, at least as powerful as the likes list on your Facebook profile page. Often, it tells you a great deal about a person in a way that an affirmative list can not.
I'm giving EnemyGraph a try, and so far the activity has been minimal. I did add "Oranges" as something I dislike (intensely) and found pages to click on to add to my "Enemies" list.
The app also runs "dissonance queries" that match something a friend declares an "enemy" (and again, that could be most anything) with something you like and put it into a "Social Dissonance" box on the app's page. As Terry puts it, "Relationships always include differences, and often these differences are a critical part of the fabric of a friendship. In the country club atmosphere of Facebook and it’s platform such differences are ignored. It’s not part of their 'social philosophy.'"
Right now, the app tells me, "There is currently no social dissonance between you and your friends. The world's demons rest." (Then again, none of my friends are using this app yet, so that's probably why nothing shows up. Looks like you and your Facebook friends have to add the app to make this work.)
But I know, were my Facebook friends to use this, that there would be plenty of such reports generated. Just because you're friends doesn't mean you always agree on everything. My friends and I have many differences, but I suppose for the most part, we agree on the big things -- including things we dislike.
Also, who's to say that there aren't already some "enemies" amongst your friends? Some people actually abide by that whole keep your enemies close adage, and by checking out their updates, you can do just that.
Terry admits that "enemy" is not exactly the right word for what he's trying to show, in that "the fact that you can make pretty much any object, place, or thing that has a FB page an 'enemy' EnemyGraph is in some ways an unfortunate name. So it’s not just a list of people. In fact you can have an entire list with no people on it at all. In a way we are misusing the word “enemy” just as much as Facebook and others have misused 'friend.'"
He told The Chronicle of Higher Education he didn't even know "if Facebook would even allow his plug-in application to pass the company's approval process, and even though it did, he still believes administrators will shut it down if it becomes popular."
Would you use this app?