How many times today have you checked in on your Facebook profile? And don’t lie and say you haven’t got one or that you don’t check it that often or that you were corralled into signing up but never use it. Stop lying you lying liar! You’re on there and you compulsively check it an ever-increasing number of times every single day. You’re probably something like me, you check it religiously but don’t actually use it. It’s a strange situation, one that makes you all indignant that no one has sent you a message but you had absolutely no intention of sending anyone else one. They should just come to you damn it! I myself have opened up Facebook no less than ten times today. If that doesn’t sound like a lot look at it like this: every time I sit down at my laptop and dive into the infinity that is the entire world and all its possibilities mapped out and delivered to me through a glowing screen, my cursor drifts over automatically to the tab that details what my close friends and immediate family thought about having to get up this morning. I choose to habitually go to a website that lets me know that that girl I sort of knew from my old school is thinking about having a biscuit. We all make a conscious decision, every time we use the internet, to go to a place where we can read that some friend of your brother’s friend took a test to tell him what type of farmyard animal he is. We’ve only got ourselves to blame when the secret police start dragging us out of our homes in the middle of the night because we are no longer deemed to have anything to contribute to society judged solely on how many status updates we’ve made that day. Hell, we’d probably blog about it as it was happening, ‘lol state-sanctioned unlawful abduction brb’.
Even now as I type this out, countless status updates have been added (I know because the window is opened and minimized just in case obviously) and none of them have any point. None at all. A girl I barely recognised the name of when she added me is thinking about shopping for a dress. Someone from my university days is thinking about having an ‘earlyish’ night. A girl I work with is mad she fell asleep and missed a godawful Angelina Jolie movie. And I didn’t even scroll down! The really troubling thing about all this is: what does Facebook call this automatic home page that reveals these terribly important missives? That’s right, the News Feed. News. We are to liken these inherently pointless brain-farts to a service that provides the most vital, most up-to-date events from around the globe. Riots in Iran are now officially as critical as the knowledge that Lizzie can’t wait for Saturday (‘becoz then is PARTY TIEM!’). This is essential stuff. The internet after all is the deserving cornerstone of your entire life. Even now my word processor wants me to capitalise the word internet. I’m just surprised it doesn’t want me to change it to INTARNETS! ARRRGGHHH!!!!111
So now that Facebook has the entire world’s complete and undivided attention it can torture you with some truly twisted little things (Christ this sounds like a really bad Doctor Who plot). It can start – hang on a sec… sorry, someone ‘liked’ my status. It can start diverting your attention to matters of the utmost banality. Here’s a selection of such matters courtesy of that Facebook friend who you know, don’t like all that much and who you didn’t have the heart to ignore when the friend request popped up. In his profile picture he’s pulling the sort of self-satisfied grin you’d never tire of backhanding. We’ll call him Gimpy McGurnface.
· How well do you know Gimpy McGurnface? A particularly spiteful prank a program maker vomited onto the world of social networking sites. If you are foolish enough to take your friend’s quiz on how well you know them prepare to reveal to the world just how clueless you are. This function allows the user to write and supply any old question and any four potential answers they can pluck from their fevered brain. Most of the time these answers are picked completely at random and there is no chance on God’s green earth that you will be able to select the correct ones. Nobody takes these quizzes seriously and maps out a detailed and comprehensive exam to truly separate the top level friends from the low level acquaintances. If they did they deserve the secret police fate that awaits them as detailed above. Rather you get a list of questions comprised of gobbledygook. You won’t know who Gimpy’s cat’s favourite daytime TV presenter is so you will fail miserably. You’ll know it’s because of the questions but what your peers will glean from the NEWS FEED is that you only know McGurnface a paltry 33%. For shame. And heaven help you if you think it’ll be a good idea to take a quiz authored by your partner.
· Gimpy McGurnface became a fan of… Sleeping. Tea. Television. Fresh Air. Uvulas. Lunch. Hugs. Blinking. Basically the most mundane things in the world. Think of the most pointless, boring thing in the world to state yourself a fan of and you can guarantee Gimpy McGurnface has clicked ‘become a fan’ whilst snickering to himself. You hate this with a passion. So much so, you become a fan of the ‘Stop becoming a fan of every little thing’ group. Congratulations, now you’re worse than Gimpy.
· Gimpy McGurnface commented on your status… about a hundred times with his insipid friends. You know this one. You write a simple status update and forget about it, you do something else not INTARNETS related for a little while. You come back to find you have something like twenty new notifications. Your heart skips a beat. They love you, you’re so bloody popular. Oh no wait, Gimpy has ‘liked’ it which has sparked an in-joke laden back-and-forth with one of his neanderthal mates that all comes up on your profile every time you look at it. You are forced to read this. It’s like some sort of violation except of course it isn’t because it’s out there in the public domain. Still, the righteous indignation is massive. They have high-jacked your status! (I was going to coin this Facejacking but that sounded way too much like something that went on in Holland on a weekend you’d be best to forget.)
And so on. I could go on and I probably will. On Facebook. For there is no escape! It is loved and hated in equal measure. People don’t necessarily enjoy Facebook in the same way that alcoholics don’t enjoy alcohol. Give it time and it will insert itself into your every venture online. It’s terrible but don’t think I haven’t been considering posting this whole thing as a note on my profile.
I’ll never get a Twitter account though. I mean come on, that’s just sad.