Are you registered on Facebook? I bet you are. Or were. If not, you’re probably not quite sure what it is. Or are very wise.
One of the above.
It’s a weird thing, Facebook. I find it’s the modern day equivalent of the executive toys yuppies used to have on their desks in the 80s, weird constructions made out of massive ball bearings and strings. Strangely absorbing but completely useless. Facebook is fleetingly amusing but it’s also totally pointless in so, so many ways.
Firstly, Facebook’s Scrabble application, Scrabulous. Definitely a good point. Nowadays, in a quiet moment, I can fire up Scrabulous and lay a few tiles on the old board. It’s important not to get too many games on the go though, or this can actually take up entire afternoons as you realise you’ve landed yourself in an interwebular tournament and find yourself searching your mind (and google, if you are a pathetic cheat) for a word containing ‘Q’ that doesn’t require a ‘U’. I don’t actually do that though, as I am a decent, upstanding individual. In small doses this is all excellent larks, but spend more than half an hour at a time at it and you become little more than a hapless scrabjunkie.
Next up – photos. If you’re an exhibitionist you can store as many photos as you want on facebook. Stick up photos of your wedding day, your birthday party, your Facebook-arranged school reunion, your christening, your new baby, your old baby, your grandpa. I’ve seen examples of all of these. Personally I only stick up photos of myself wearing false moustaches or pulling stupid faces. Family photos belong in a photo album I find, not up online for the whole world to gawp at. It’s bizarre finding yourself looking at photos of balding school friends on their wedding days, or holding weird shaped babies. It’s unnatural at best, voyeuristic at worst.
Occasionally photos of me from the past have been ‘tagged’, meaning other people have pictures of you that they attach a tag to so others are notified of it’s display. This is often mortifying, as they are usually pictures in which you have inexplicably gained or lost two or three stone and look like a confused skeleton or a drunk and hirsute Matt Lucas. It’s not pleasant.
Another facebook feature is the wall – a startlingly obnoxious way to have a conversation in which two people can publically have a conversation on one another’s profile. You receive an email saying ‘Peter Pim (or whoever) has written on your wall!’ which immediately makes you think someone’s vandalised one of your internal organs. Then you see that the message is from Facebook, log in and write on their wall in retaliation. As the conversations are public they are either so bland and dreary that nothing good comes of them or, at best, you might occasionally get in a public slagging match, which sadly usually tends to peter out before anyone gets too insulted. No gossip can be shared and no solid drinking appointments can be made as this is essentially a public forum, so really, there’s no point using it at all. Imagine if everytime you received a text message a massive neon sign appeared displaying the content of what you’re reading beside your confused face. You’d be slightly embarassed I’ll wager.
Sometimes people see fit to draw graffiti on your ‘wall’. This is more fun than writing you a message as they generally only use it to insult you or vandalise your profile with surreal (and rubbish) artwork. I recently worked out how to do quite intricate drawings on graffiti, then worked out how many hours I’d spent making those intricate drawings, then had a breakdown as I realised how much of my life I had spent vandalising an umimaginably tiny portion of an incomprehensibly minute fraction of the internet.
What other functions have we got on there? Well there’s all this crap like zombie, vampire, aquarium, garden and fortune cookie applications, all totally arbitary and nonsensical – designed for children or people who still have soft toys on their bed past the age of 10. There’s also a bizarre ‘poke’ function where you virtually ‘poke’ people, nudging them for no other reason than you like annoying other human beings no matter how the receiver feels about it.
There’s the ‘ask a question’ application that is pure Ronseal. You ask a question of all your friends. It’s sick and wrong, but I do use this from time to time, making such flippant queries of my associates as ‘what’s the best bar/pub snack’ or ‘which is better: the north or south of england’. There are no excuses for this other than the fact it passes a handful of minutes and takes the mind off paperwork.
Facebook also allows you to note what books you’re reading, what music you’ve been listening to and all the films you’ve been watching. Sadly, this is quite dangerous, as the human impulse is to boast, or at least act economically with the truth. Instead of being honest and saying that they watched Rocco’s Anal Winnebago and read Heat whilst on the bog, most people stick up art house flicks and trendy/classic books. If the truth was genuinely out there, we’d all be very disappointed with one another.
The fundamental problem with Facebook and many other social networking sites is the question of ‘friendship’. You’re obliged to ‘add’ friends or be added by them. ‘Friends’ is a completely flexible term in the virtual world. It starts off being the friends you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Then family becomes involved. Then old friends from college you’re glad you resumed contact with. Then school friends you probably would never have resumed contact with. Then people you once met at a party when you were 15. Then people you shared a paddling pool with when you hadn’t yet developed memory function.
It’s not a natural thing to have contact with all these distant memories and might actually be quite unhealthy, I reckon. The odd sociopath might be able to use his new divine powers to wreak terrible vengeance on former lovers or schoolground enemies. I’ll admit in the past I’ve looked over the odd bully’s profile and been tempted to send them a spiteful message, which is the equivalent of turning up to a school reunion with a knuckleduster. It’s a pathetic impulse and demonstrates that Facebook has the potential for triggering MASS MURDER.
My intention, from hereon in, is to start the ball rolling and head back to sanity by doing the following, in this order:
- Deleting people from school I only vaguely remember and don’t speak to, even through facebook.
- Deleting people from school I wouldn’t otherwise be back in contact with (unless they are easy to beat at scrabble).
- Deleting people from college I wouldn’t otherwise be back in contact with (unless they are easy to beat at scrabble).
- Deleting people from University I wouldn’t otherwise be back in contact with (unless they are easy to beat at scrabble).
- Deleting people I know currently but don’t particularly like.
- Deleting people I know currently and like.
- Deleting everyone else.
- Deleting myself.
Hopefully none of this will affect what happens in the real world.