“Facebook as McMansion”

Amidst the conversation and consternation regarding Facebook’s recent purchase of Instagram, one commentator makes this comparison: “Facebook as McMansion.”

In the flurry of blog posts, tweets and status updates about the Instagram deal, Facebook was likened to Dr. Evil, Foxconn, the North Korean army, and the Evil Empire — precisely the same nickname given to Microsoft in its monopoly phase.

In his (incredibly fun) take on the acquisition for New York magazine, Paul Ford suggested that Facebook buying Instagram was “like if Coldplay acquired Dirty Projectors, or a Gang of Four reunion was sponsored by Foxconn.” He also called Facebook the “great alien presence that just hovers over our cities, year after year, as we wait and fear,” and likened it to the “monolith in the movie 2001.” Big and scary.

According to BuzzFeed’s Matt Buchanan, “beloathed” Facebook’s purchase of “beloved” Instagram means “the neighborhood just got demolished by giant bulldozers loaded with money and is being paved over with 800 million McMansions.” Facebook as McMansion — a symbol for complacent corporate culture and stodginess if there ever was one…

We love an underdog, and we’d probably love Facebook more if we thought it were one. While snapping up Instagram allowed Facebook do to away with a competitor, it may be that a rival — or even the illusion of one — is exactly what it now needs.

While the other comparisons aren’t exactly flattering, the comparison to a McMansion is not a good thing for Facebook. Although the term McMansion has multiple meanings, it is clearly a negative label and is tied to these ideas: excessively large, much larger than “average homes,” and a one size fits all approach.

Perhaps these comparisons are getting at a larger issue: is there a point when Facebook plateaus or continuously encounters widespread pushback because it is too big and/or too popular? There will always be a small group of people who dislike the dominant company or product just because it is the biggest and can throw its weight around. At the same time, there could be competitors who arise or circumstances online and with computers that change in such a way that Facebook is left behind. See the case of Microsoft who still has a lot of products and influence certainly its way past its peak.

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