The Living Death that is Facebook

My name is Judith and I am a Facebook nay-sayer. It’s beginning to need courage to say that, just as I imagine it does to go to AA. But I’ll say it, and again: I don’t get it. What is the point of Facebook? I’ve been there, truly I have. I was signed up (OK, that passive does give a clue that I may not be the market Facebook is looking for). But once signed up, I did my best. I searched for old school friends. I reached out and similar Oprah-ish phrases. I collected a group of ‘Friends’ who included, as per the unspoken rules, a bunch of people I a) didn’t know very well; b) knew well, but didn’t particularly like; and, oh yes, c) were people I like and am in touch with all the time in real life so I didn’t need to ‘poke’ them in cyberspace. The fourth category, d) people I had never met or even heard of, I resolutely did not include.

Maybe that was the problem. I didn’t play by the Facebook rules, because I never really got the point. Why would I collect names of people I didn’t know? Facebook kept encouraging me to make friends with people because we had umpty-ump friends in common. Well, yes, but I still didn’t know them.

And then once you do have a circle of friends, then what? A bunch post all the time (and I mean all the time: when do they work? sleep? have sex? Really, I worry about them), and tell you about their gardens, their kittens, their children/grandchildren/jobs. Or they post links to articles you’ve already read, or would never read. A bunch more never post. And a whole group use it as a publicity engine for their work. I know I’m weird, but this doesn’t sound like ‘friend’-ship to me.

I kind of feel about Facebook the way I think I’d feel about a pet tortoise: it’s perfectly nice, but it just sits there. And? I keep wanting to say. And what do you do? It’s like being stuck at a dinner-party next to a man who not only Bores for Britain, but chews with his mouth open too.

Twitter? Ah, now Twitter is different. I love Twitter. Twitter is the best kind of drinks party. Everything is nice and short and snappy. If a conversation is boring, you move on; if it engages you, you stick around for a while. You meet new people, some of whom are great (stick around), some of whom are dull (move on). Yes, absolutely, just like the dreaded FB people, many post links to advertise their work/themselves. But at 140 characters, the Derrida-influenced bores are neutered and the snappy one-liners enhanced. It’s like the David Mamet line when a producer asks for a summary of a play in two sentences: ‘If you can’t get it in two sentences, you can’t get it in TV Guide.’ My epitaph will, I hope, be ‘She gave good Tweet.’

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1 Comment

  1. Ms Avery

    September 10, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    I think social networking sites really work differently for different people. For me, Twitter is a fun diversion, but I’ve never got massively into it. The snappy one-liners are fun, but I don’t feel it’s a hugely useful medium for maintaining existing relationships.

    But Facebook is how I keep in touch with my college friends (none of whom live in the same country as me) and various younger relatives who are lovely but, frankly, too lazy to call me or meet up with me offline. (Also, I recently defriended about 90% of the “people I don’t actually know or like” category, which has largely taken care of that issue.) I’m so disorganised that if I didn’t have Facebook, I would very rarely have any contact with these people, and I feel the daily banal updates are a better (read: more like real life) way of keeping up with people than annual emails.

    (Apologies if this comment is slightly incoherent in places; I’ve been up since 5am.)