Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do You Facebook?

Facebook is a social networking web site launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg that at the time was still studying at Harvard University. I don't intend to denigrate this brilliant 24 yo guy that had a genial, amazing idea, in fact i subscribed and I'm still part of his community. But day after day i log in to see what's going on on my wall, i feel like I'm doing something really weird.
Let's start with this, during the last week-end i received more or less 50 e-mails from Facebook, there was people inviting me to join groups like "i hate slow drivers that don't keep the right on highways" or "i love to ask my bartender for a rum and coke with no coke". Sometimes it happens that even your best friends can tell you bullshits like these, or you as well can do it with them. The most important thing is that, by the way, someone thought about me and sent me an invitation to join a group. This always made me joyful, even if, fortunately, i never have the time to get into all the invitations i receive everyday. So where is the problem? The first of my problems with Facebook is that i think that a lot of people got the fact that other people send them such a bullshits with the fact they have a lot of friends. If i receive 50 mails in a week-end from Facebook what does it mean? Does it mean that my friends are thinking of me? My real friends? The ones i grew up with?
To answer to this question i took my Facebook friends' list and i divided it in 4 categories: Best Friends, Close Friends, Acquaintances and Total Strangers. I can say that among my actual 108 friends there's 25 people that I've never met in my life, maybe i saw a couple of them somewhere i don't remember when...what i can say is that i just accepted their requests because I'm afraid that having a lot of friends on facebook is starting to be cool and mindlessly appreciated. 54 of them are acquaintances, i mean people that have never cared that much about me and vice versa. I don't wanna say that i don't like them, i just think the contrary, but i feel embarrassed, i mean, after that long time having the chance to talk directly, what do we need to say each others now, and so urgently and quickly? Through Facebook?! I live abroad so next time I'll go back home I'll try to know deeper a lot of the very interesting acquaintances i have in my friends' list. I found myself surprised when noticed that i could see in 19 people a close friend, i mean, no thinking just at the Facebook side of the matter, i realized that at the end i can say I'm a lucky guy thinking to have 19 close friends, and others and not less interesting and important with no profiles on the Facebook. That made me happy. I can honestly define the last 10, people that i love, the friends i usually spend most of my time with once at home, the frends i spent most of my life with during the past 10 years. But strangely we don't get into any relation through Facebook beside to say hi each others, that's all. I mean, we're 30/40 years old, do you think we really need someone to invent this thing to keep in touch with ourselves? C'mon, i don't like to chat on Facebook with the guys with whom i shared the funniest and fullest of experiences part of my life, and i don't want to to discover who they are on the web. This time, for the first time, i feel i don't need the Internet. Ok, that's my situation, if you want let me know about yours voting the poll.
The problem is that Facebook is for people that already know each others, this give to the subscriber the impression to know a lot of people, to be popular if his/her stupid list counts more than a hundred or thousand of people. No matter if you don't even know who these people really are. We can say that this is a good, sane way to know new people, all right, but really, do you still think that relationships starting from the web have a future? And was the Facebook created for that reason? To make people know each others?
Why these new young generations are so far and not touched by the reality? I mean if you live in a city like New York you see that most of the people you meet base their lives on a fake unreality. Everyone of these young new geniuses define himself as painter, writer, dancer, bartender, waiter, artist, without knowing at all what are they talking about, or having just a couple of years of experience. These people don't know that you have to fight and to suffer like a stray dog for years if you honestly intend to achieve and build something solid in your life, i know I'm getting pathetically rhetoric but i think that's the true, most of these occidental guys (Americans, Italians...) think they did sacrifices they never did and are sure to be popular and appreciated because of their long list of Facebook friends or because of their smart "I'm doing this", "I'm doing that"...John is taking a nap or your friend Bob took a "Movie Quiz"and scored 14/20. I'm sorry but why should i care?
I need to repeat something that maybe you've read already in a billion blogs, but let me spend again just a few words on the quiz-invitations-pictures matter, i wonder if it's just a stupid Italian habit due to the fact that 95% of my contacts are from Italy, and that anybody of my 5% not-Italian "friends" never took the chance to send me a picture of a Mojito with the invitation to drink it together somewhere impossible to reach. Maybe i still don't know exactly how this kind of things work, like to send gifts or to receive kisses, mah, to be honest i really don't care that much about this symbol of the fake culture i see lately...easy money, easy popularity, easy life, easy for everyone of you everything always so easy? Not for me.
Less than a week ago, one of the plenty bastards present in my 10 best friends category, posted a couple of really embarrassing pictures of me...when i say really embarrassing picture i mean naked. Ok, what i can say, i can say that i didn't appreciated that much his move, but i can also say that i laughed a lot (a lot), and i understood why that son of his mother published it. Because yes, i surely smiled, but i guess what many people did, not watching the horrible picture, just thinking at my face when i saw it. But that's ok. A question: was without Facebook so easy to find pictures of yourself visible by so many people? I don't like the idea that anytime, anyone (real friends or not) can publish a picture of me without asking the permission to do it. Don't you agree that Facebook could think about that on its policies and rules?
I was born in the era of people that used to know new people simply web chatting. I don't understand why now, people that already know each others need to see themselves together in a sort of blog-chat. I can understand people who doesn't live in the same city, but most of my friends, and most of my friends' friends live in the same towns, so what's the matter guys? Is the matter that if i see your profile with more than 200 friends I'm directly supposed to consider you a nice, successful or interesting person? Or the matter is when you receive 25 sms per hour from your e-mail address, telling you someone sent you some idiot staffs on the Facebook, and you look around you with that proud eyes, the eyes of popularity? I hope that's not the matter even if i already heard fake complaints like: "Oh Lord this Facebook never stops. I didn't realize i knew so many people".
Of course you can say the same thing of me, looking for popularity writing a blog, but with the difference that you can choose to read it or not, and your will to download this page is my popularity, even if it's 10/20 people per day. At the end you did choose. With Facebook i feel like i'm forced to read all the bullshits anyone is able to post just because of a sure audience.
Finally, am i quitting Facebook? I still don't know, but I'm gonna go ahead to ignore any sort of stupid invitation to keep the 10 minutes i usually spend on the network just to say hey to the people i love.
Thank you for your time and attention.

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kk said...

I love Facebook. I'm borderline addicted to it. And in the beginning I was receiving all kinds of messages like "Click here and we'll save the rainforest" and "John just sent you a panda for your zoo! Do you accept?" etc. And what did I do? I felt pressure - which I can't stand. On the one hand, I don't want to be rude and not accept the panda that someone so kindly sent me and I certainly care about the rainforest, but then I took a step back and thought, “Are you kidding me? This is COMPLETELY retarded.” I'm not saving the rainforest by accepting your tulip to add to my garden and I don't HAVE a zoo. It's virtual - not real and you don't have to participate if you don't want to. (Although, I did really enjoy the Aussie Insult Generator.)

Of the 180 or so friends that I have on Facebook, I’m close to 5 people whom I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, 4 of whom don’t get involved because they’re over it and the novelty has worn off. The one other who is on it as much as I am, likes it for the same reasons I do – mainly to send messages to friends who live all over the place and to post photos and videos because we never see each other and we can stay in touch and see what’s going on in each other’s lives without having to sit down and call which is nearly impossible because of our schedules and time difference etc. Of this group of friends, shockingly, I really like 98% of them and I actually know them from years ago and lost touch. And others, I’ve met a few times but I really liked and found them interesting or super funny and smart. The other 2% I don’t know very well at all or have never met and I’m still wondering how they found me. And then there are the few others within that 2% whom I came to know and now, can’t stand. Stupid on my part, of course, but I didn’t want to be rude and not accept an invitation from someone whom I might know but don’t recall. Whatever.

Then, there are the insecure types who need to add a million people. The other day, I was talking with my friend about Facebook and she was saying how Amy from elementary school added her as a friend and she had no clue why, because back when they were 11 years old, they were never friends. She said that all she remembered about Amy was that she always wanted to be part of the “popular” group (at 11, ok.) and could never quite make it in. I don’t know how it is in Italy but it’s probably the same as any school where you have certain groups of people that are either popular, dorky, rebellious, jocks or weird and then there are the people that hate themselves and feel like they MUST be part of the popular crowd and they’re just on the fringes, never quite fitting in. Amy was part of the fringe crowd and now, in her 30’s she got what she always wanted since she was 11 – she has friends from the popular crowd. Yay Amy! You finally made it! And she’s going to keep adding and adding until Goddamn it, she collects every popular person from elementary school, high school, nursery school etc. that she always wanted to be close to but was juuuuust out of reach. It was kind of funny at first, but actually quite sad. Maybe people never grow out of this – where they want to belong to a part of a group that rejected them, trying to prove that they’re “good enough”. But on the other hand, maybe there’s some truth to it, when you think back to your own “Amy” and how you remember her. She’ll probably always be the fringe girl that didn’t know who she was and was always trying too hard to please and fit in, because that’s all you remember of her. And have things changed, really? But in any case, Amy’s happy and my friend couldn’t care less about Amy. Their realities are different and what does it matter, when in truth, they’ll very likely never see each other again and maybe for Amy this was a shiny moment in her life.

Then, there’s the issue of Facebook-De-Friending. I saw a comment the other day to one of my “friend’s” quotes saying, “Kathy, if you continue writing these hateful political messages, I will be forced to Facebook de-friend you”! I thought it was hilarious. And even more funny when Kathy started posting more feverishly. “Facebook-De-Friend”?? Sometimes, I wish I could do that in real life with a wand, “Carolyn, I find you morally reprehensible, intellectually retarded, spiritually bankrupt and a general plague on my life. I now command thee, De-Friended. Be gone.” Whoosh.

Anyway, I enjoy Facebook – for me, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends that live too far away or are busy and to see sometimes hysterically funny photos and comments without having to actively sit down and call or write when you don’t have as much time as you wish you had. And the other fake people who suck or are generally as dull as a piece of toast and with an IQ of a cucumber, I don’t have to acknowledge as a friend in real life – I can explain that we’re not ACTUAL friends, we’re FACEBOOK friends.

Nice Calendar, by the way.

Audrey said...

I don't Facebook. I don't Myspace. I see the people who are close to me so much that it wouldn't make sense to write to them on Facebook. I like meeting new people, but I don't spend time trying to make people who I am not close to happy by answering polls, or responding to goofy things they send me. But you know me, and I'm not anti-social. I just really have so many things to do, including reading interesting blogs, that I don't have time for Facebook.

Life is so wonderful in person!

Anina said...

Well.... I read your post and felt that I have to put my comment on it... I think everything depends on you on Facebook... I mean you decide your friends and you decide if you want to make quizes, join groups or things like that. Many people use it in the way I do... I don't live in the city where I was born anymore, but I have a lot of friends there. Due to the fact that I don't see them very often, Facebook is an economic way of saying "hello" to them and of keeping in touch with them. Some friends of mine live in other countries, or are travelling around in the world and through Facebook they update me on their travel, or on how their live is proceeding. Although even I can not understand people who use Facebook to get to know new people... you don't get to know them really, it's not the real world... Anyway... I repeat everything depends on you... I thing if you use it with intelligence you won't think you are popular because of your Facebook friends... otherwise I feel sorry for you...