Anybody who has spent any sort of time on Facebook will quickly agree that it has the potential to be an absolute bottomless pit. Between the sporadic litanies of “update” from people you claim are your friends, requests by people you never know, and an inability to escape, the likelihood of getting sucked in is high.
What started as a fantastic means by which college students could remain in contact quickly spiraled out of control to anybody with a computer scrambling to combine a pile of crappy photos and useless monikers to let everybody who also has no life keep up with just how dull theirs is, too.
The reality is that half those “friends” aren’t even friends in the first place. They’re people whose names you halfway remember hearing somewhere at some point in your long boring life. Then, in one rather lengthy and desperate spell of boredom, you search the Facebook archives for these virtual strangers and enthusiastically add them to your friends list. Most you will never speak to – even as friends. Nor will they make any effort to speak to you. It’s a game. A competition. Whoever has the most friends is the least like a loser. Trouble is, you have to be more of a loser to go to the necessary lengths to even find these people. Furthermore, musicians, politicians, writers, and celebrities do not count. Stop acting like your “friendship” with Brittney Spears counts for something. It doesn’t. It means you have horrible taste in music, and are willing to publicly announce it by adding a sub-par musician as your friend. Try finding a real friend – if you can pry yourself away from the computer.
And that is actually hard to pull off. I may very well take the initiative to close Facebook, but unless I divest myself of all electronic media, I will still be connected. Not only will Facebook e-mail me friendly reminders that there is some activity on my account, but I will also get blasted with similar reminders to my phone. I would probably disable them if I knew how, but I do not. And I sort of like pretending like I have friends.
“John is sleepy and going to bed.” Well holy damn. It happens to the best of us. Are we to feel empathy? Solidarity? Cheer for him? How about wish he wasn’t on your friends lists. The most annoying are people telling you about every detail of their life from front to finish. “Jane woke up in a bad mood.” Well, I do every day – because I have to wake up. The one aspect of their life that is always omitted is bathroom habits. I, to help overcome this terrible limitation, frequently include the nature of my movements. I’m setting an example. Inquiring minds want to know, and I will tell them. If they don’t like it, they can delete me from their friends list. But they won’t, because secretly they all really enjoy reading about everybody else. In their heart of hearts, they themselves with their own status updates indicated they had the most screwed up, dysfunctional lives. Why? Because then people would comment these status updates and they’d feel like they had friends.
I say, however, why limit oneself to the truth? It’s terribly inconvenient. Make something up. Consider it creative advertizing. And you’re advertizing yourself; in this case attempting to “outdo” the other Facebook posters and steal them from spying on everybody else’s accounts.
And that’s the scary fact: people DO spy. Proof of this occasionally comes when you’re minding your own business and are suddenly blasted with an e-mail, a text message, and a little red alert box all informing you that somebody has commented on a status update or photograph you posted weeks ago. Somebody, specifically one of the people claims to be your friends, has poked around the bowels of your archives, seen something that caught their eye, and felt inclined to tell you what they thought of it. What would otherwise be alarming because of its indication of their nosiness, you quickly write off because you’re thanking God that somebody is paying attention to you.
“Sorry man, I can’t go out tonight. I have to catch up on Facebook stuff.” Well, then, I’d say it’s failed as a social network. It’s become an online identity. But who else has online identities? Stalkers, Hollywoodophiles, and pederasts. Welcome to their ranks. You have no friends, per se, but you have 1,243 Facebook friends, so you’re not alone, right. Well, actually you are. Pathetically so.
Another continually annoying feature of Facebook is the ease with which one can join or even create groups, events, or some stupid application that otherwise burns valuable electrons. “Tim has joined the ‘I like Huffing Farts’ group. Click here to join.” No thanks.
“Rose is now a fan of Bulimia. Click here to binge with her.”
“Todd joined the Order of the Flambouyant, Left-Handed Gay Man. Click here to win a left-hande feather boa.”
“Shannon is a fan of Auschwitz Victims Turned Comedians. Click here to see show schedules.”
“Muffy is celebrating ‘Let’s All Hug a Stranger Day.’ Click here to join the movement. Now 27 strong nationwide.” Wow, what a rousing success.
Instead of joining these lame causes, I will start my own stupid groups and events and see how many people I can sucker into joining. These will include, “Let’s Waste Electrons Together,” “Facebook Users That Admit They’re Losers and Have no REAL Friends,” “The Machete Fascination Group,” “Fans of Public Urination,” “Let’s Celebrate National Take-The-Toilet-Paper-Out-Of-Every-Stall-And-Run Day,” and whatever else comes do mind. I’ve already started the Machete Fascination, too. Seriously. I have…
Facebook Applications are no better. I subscribe to NONE of them.
“Maggie has hidden an Easter Egg in your profile.” That’s littering. Get it out of there. RIGHT NOW.
“Tank sent you a martini.” All Tank does is either take photos of himself drinking and post them on Facebook, or send drinks to people. Tank should pursue help, not an electronic social forum.
“Jack has poked you. Click here to poke him back.” Good for him. That’s battery. Next time I’ll use a machete.
“Jenna gave you a pet baby alligator. Click here to feed it.” Is it edible? Can IT feed ME? If I could abuse an electronic pet, I would, and then blame you for giving it to me without my approval. The internet needs to be spayed more than anything – and most of the people using it.
Perhaps most important is that while I perpetually complain that Facebook is an utter waste of time, electrons, and time SUPPOSEDLY intended for work, I too spend a notable portion of my day on it. But I claim to have an excuse. I keep up with Marine I haven’t seen in years, pretend that the 87 people that I have added as friends actually care about me, and then, in my quieter moments, I prowl through their photos looking for something incriminating. Facebook, I suppose, doesn’t get you any real friends; it just allows you to be lonely, pathetic, and nosey all at the same time. If it weren’t for this program, we’d have to look out the window and spy on our neighbors. How boring would THAT be…
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
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