Mar 21 2013
Ever since I’ve deleted my Reddit bookmark from my browser bar (yes, I stuck with it), I’ve been spending a bit more time on the site that took its place. My auto-clicks in that area now lead me to Facebook, a place that’s getting increasingly strange as time goes on.
When it started, it was pretty fun. “What’s this non-tacky version of MySpace? You need a college email to sign up? Fancy!”
My friends and I joined, and we immediately friended all the hot girls we could find. Eventually it morphed into a medium for non-creepster contact, and you chatted with your actual friends. College lead to lots of new acquaintances and subsequent friend requests, but in the time since? Things have gotten a bit…odd.
Now it’s a site I rarely update because I couldn’t possibly think that any of these people I knew once upon a time care about what I’m eating for breakfast. Or to see the photos from my last trip home. Or that some article I wrote is getting a bunch of pageviews. Why would they care?
Well, 47 people care at least!
But people DO think others care, and strangely enough, some actually do. There will be one of those breakfast posts with 20 people commenting “Yum!” underneath it.
When there’s a news story that pertains to one of the 20 or so people on the site I’m still actually talking to in real life, Facebook can be interesting. But what about my OTHER 437 friends?
My newsfeed is now a bizarre combination of random thoughts from people I haven’t spoken to in weeks, months or years and a bunch of ads from either places I actually like, or places I don’t in the least. Here are the top ten news stories in my feed right now:
1. A girl I worked with at Best Buy seven years ago talking about her camping trip.
2. A friend of a friend I don’t particularly like talking about a sports team I don’t particularly care about.
3. My childhood friend’s little brother whom I literally haven’t seen in person since he was in first grade talking about changing his guitar strings.
4. A kid from my high school I talked to perhaps four times ever posting pictures of an antique gun
5. My roommate’s ex-girl-he-dated-for-three weeks that even he’s no longer friends with posting about SXSW.
Look at all the fun you’re not having!
6. A link from Unreality’s Facebook page that has eight likes and one comment despite the fact we have 145,000 fans.
7. A girl I thought was cute in college who now has two kids and is posting about free Dairy Queen Day.
8. The daughter of my mom’s friend posting a picture of her grocery receipt.
9. A dim kid I went to junior high with who doesn’t understand that hashtags don’t work on Facebook. #almostfriday
10. The girls gym teacher at my old high school saying that she’s “having a rough day.”
I have to scroll down for three full minutes to find someone I would even consider remotely relevant to my life. And what’s my actual friend up to? “Chillin.” Riveting.
I know what you’ll say. Why don’t you just delete them all? I did, for a while. I went through a culling process of people that I deemed even more irrelevant than the ones I’ve mentioned, if you can imagine that. But all these people friended ME, and I’d feel like a dick for deleting them, as they’re not doing active harm to me other than perhaps killing a few of my brain cells.
Really, it’s sort of fascinating to watch what Facebook is morphing into. At my age now, it’s this bizarre fishbowl of past figures from my life that any other generation would have probably just forgotten about.
But not us. Not with Facebook. We now have this eternal log of everything that’s happening in these people’s live if they’re the frequently updating type. If trends continue, I could watch the entire lives unfold of the girl I sat next to in college for a semester or the guy I worked with that one summer or the girl I awkwardly asked to a school dance that one time.
Face obscured to protect the innocent.
It’s already happening. How many people you no longer actually care about have you watched get married or have kids right on your newsfeed? It’s fascinating. It’s all completely useless information of course, but the fact that you can do this seems like something out of Black Mirror, even if we all take it for granted.
I think Facebook is completely useless for anything important. My real life friends and I talk to in real life. Promoting my website is pointless as Facebook drowns us out with those paying big bucks for prominently placed ads. Rather, it just becomes this odd window into people’s lives that are quickly becoming strangers. But now, and this has happened a few times, if I run into someone on the street I haven’t seen in years, the conversation goes like this.
“Hey, I saw you got engaged on Facebook!”
“Yeah! And I saw you moved to Texas.”
“Your fiancée is cute!”
“Isn’t it your birthday this week?”
Or something along those lines. The point is, with enough information fed into the site, we can feel like we continue to know these people even when we don’t. I don’t talk to nearly anyone from my high school anymore, but I’ll be damned if I can’t rattle off what 30 of them are up to these days, and they could probably do the same for me. It’s really weird.
Facebook isn’t useful, but it’s an interesting collection of non-interesting personal crap from strangers the site makes you feel like you still know. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it seems like it’s only going to get stranger over time.
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