In the early days of FaceBook, you got an email for every single thing someone did to communicate with you. Everything, that was, except for private messages. Wall posts, friend requests, pokes, and group invites dominated our inboxes until the inventions of photo comments, photo tagging, note tagging, and eventually private messaging. I guess they figured something along the lines of, "If you're expecting a message, you'll check FaceBook, and if you're expecting an email, you'll check your email." Then came the emails that just said, "You have a message." Click the link, view the message, delete the email and the message through FaceBook. Too many steps, right? Finally, they did send you the actual message via email.
But what about all those other things? Every wall post, comment, photo tag, etc.? You had to check your inbox to know that anything had changed. One day, we all opened our FaceBook accounts and found a little red box in the lower right hand corner with a number on it. That number corresponded to the notifications we haven't viewed. Now, you could unsubscribe from all of the emails and just go straight to your home page instead of logging into your email account. Most recently, the notifications moved up to the top left, right beside the messages and friend requests, each of which got their own little red box.
I used to get so excited to see those little red boxes. It was like a present waiting on me every time I logged in. In my defense, I've always loved checking the snail mail, email, voice mail, text messages, and every other form of stored communication. Even as a kid, I loved getting to the mailbox and answering machine first, in the off chance that something in there was for me. Only when I got older would I learn how much of my parents' mail was junk.
So when the little red boxes came along, I would hope for some word of encouragement from somebody. I started to get tired of it when i would get countless comments on a status or photo I forgot that I commented on or liked, usually an inane conversation between two people I didn't even know. FaceBook worked to alleviate this by only sending you the first five comments, but sometimes even that was too much.
After deleting my account, I moved to blogging and found new friends here. Then I found Google Analytics and started doing the same type of thing with visiting statistics and comments. Funny, Jon Acuff writes about doing the same type of thing and having to get counseling, all due to Google Analytics. Glad I haven't gone that far (yet). Nevertheless, I do appreciate your page views and comments. I've found some very interesting people here, and quite often I have to pull myself away from the gravity of your interestingness.
So what about you? Do those little red boxes mean anything to you? Are you the type of person who can just let them sit there and ignore them? How else do you find validation?