I had forgotten that I ever signed up for Facebook.  I think I may have done it about a year ago, for some reason so unimportant that I don’t even remember it clearly now.  Suffice to say that for a while I thought the name of the network was "Faceparty," and I was somewhat surprised to discover that in fact it was not a collection of bukkake images involving people I knew.  Didn’t it used to be mostly college age girls posting drunken pics of themselves to be used against them in years to come during job interviews?  No longer.  And so there my account sat, unused, unupdated, unfriended, until yesterday when I happened to read J.’s blog.

Would that it remained so.

I think it was while reading Damned Vulpine, which like this blog is mostly unused, that I saw J. mention it.  Hey, I could find his embarassing Facebook profile and make fun of him!  And off I went.

Lo and behold, I had friend requests pending.  How did these people find me?  I didn’t really enter anything interesting in my profile… actually I think I may have entered nothing, defaulting my identity to a totaly uneducated asexual entity with no specific marital status and no date of birth.  Oh well, I actually did know some of them, so I approved the requests and went on my way to try and find J.  No dice.

In the meantime however, I suddenly found myself with a wall absolutely crammed with crap.  I mean, it’s sort of flattering to think that people I left behind in a life that I would have just as soon burned from my cortex remembered me, but is it really necessary to know that someone that knew someone that I knew twenty-three years ago was admiring the color of their nail polish at 3:52PM exactly two days ago?  And what everyone else thought of this startling revelation?  Okay this is not exactly what happened, but is a good allegory fo the sort of stuff you find when you innocently hit "Approve Friend Request," little knowing that you have set off a chain of friends of friends of relatives of people who may have known you but you forgot a long time ago, ever-multiplying and growing exponentially like some form of internet-powered cancerous alien yeast bent on consuming your life.

Once you give this tacit permission, it’s out of control.  There’s a little thing called "news feed" which is your default view on login.  It consists of every post of everyone who got your friend approval posting every little damn thing they do all day within reach of an active browser or a text-capable phone.  And all the comments from the people that they unwittingly approved.  I log on, and here’s what I get…

  • Four videos I’ve already seen at least five times each
  • Forty-seven comments on said videos from people I do not know
  • Private conversations between said people that evolve during the video commentary thread, which sad to say contain no fights or dirty talk
  • People’s picks for top five teams in sports that I do not care about
  • People’s picks for top five albums or movies or TV shows that I am not interested in
  • Pictures of feet belonging to people I do not know with painted toenails (oh, I suppose my nail polish thing was rooted in reality)
  • Pictures of people and families that I do not know
  • People’s scores in Facebook games that I do not know and cannot for the life of me find
  • People talking about upcoming events that I cannot get to
  • People talking about what happened at said events as if I knew what they were talking about
  • Proud announcements about being in line at the supermarket, going to see movies, eating dinner, or perhaps just how cool it was to be on Facebook, posting about posting on Facebook

It’s utterly useless, but somehow hypnotic.  As I go through posts from people I don’t know about things that I don’t care about, I find myself lulled into a kind of weird Facebook stupor.  If you’ve read Snow Crash, keep that image of people with antennae sticking up from their heads all speaking in glossolia, and you get an idea of the sort of future awaiting us all, although Facebook is probably more interested in selling junk for their advertisers than they are absolute mind control via neurovirus.

However, they do have a solid base to build a large extortion racket.  Privacy is extremely limited on Facebook.  Okay, let’s be real:  whenever you upload anything to the internet, just assume it’s likely to go public.  Uploading anything to a site that you don’t personally control is really asking for trouble.  Facebook goes the extra mile to make sure that everyone and their grandmother gets access to everything you upload.  And given the recent ruckus over their terms of service agreement, you’d think that people would think twice before uploading all of their photos as they take them in realtime.  Apparently not so, much to my personal dismay (not so much over Facebook’s eventually monetization of them, but just the fact that I wind up with the damn things all over my stupid wall).

The worst part of all of this is, I still did not find J.’s account.  The good news is that I wound up disliking Facebook so much that I no longer care.

2 Responses to “Failbook”
  1. There are only about five different Howard Collinses on Facebook, and at least a couple are black guys.

  2. For the record, Mu found my Facebook one whole day after this post, and his sister tried to argue that they were not in fact related.

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