Facebook seems to be having a tough time of late. Disgruntled shareholders, Internet trolls and enforced changes to it's followers profiles have given it the kind of bad PR that a Pussy Riot gig would give President Putin.
The difference being you don't get two years hard labour for wearing a balaclava and denouncing Facebook.
Facebook and I became friends five years ago but I was made aware of it way back in 2004 when I was working for an elite and preppy US clothing company filled with elite and preppy people.
Much like the (over) 995 million disciples who now use it my work colleague was shirking her work responsibilities for the sake of "social networking". "What's that?" I asked. "Oh just something some guy I went to school with set up so we could all keep in touch". Facebook at that time was open only to the Ivy League and my education stretches to a local comprehensive.
My friend left that job in 2006 and I left the following year. We now keep in touch on Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg has seen his elite networking site go global. It's now the chosen platform to express your opinions, explain what you had for lunch, share your baby photographs and spill your guts. It's followers are no longer Ivy Leaguers, they are Midwest housewives, teenage dirtbags, inner city rioters and preteen pop stars.
Facebook shrunk the world and allowed us all to go global. You can now go poking in Peru and stalking in Slovenia, get friendly in Fiji and then block them in Bermuda but at what cost?
How many of us are not even leaving our living rooms / bedrooms / bathrooms or wherever we get the urge to Facebook?
Our Facebook world grew bigger but our social lives got smaller.
The book of our face has seen many changes since it's beginning. Like a child star who has had to grow up in the spotlight and caught the attention of millions, it is constantly evolving and altering it's appearance, thinking if it just changed this or maybe tweaked that then the public would not grow tired of it. If it made itself more user friendly and more agreeable to all then everybody would love it. Maybe if it made it's appearance more streamlined and went public then the world would go crazy?
Well it did and we have but like all child stars it's had to grow up and realise an adoring public is a fickle public and after five years of nurturing and attending to it, uploading and downloading, befriending and un-friending I've decided to reevaluate our relationship.
For so many of us Facebook has become something of an obsession. It's the first thing we reach for in the morning and the last thing we check late at night. It's the easy way to bail out of commitments "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't call but I did Facebook you" or the excellent excuse to not have to give your telephone number "I'll Facebook you".
It's the way we begin friendships and end relationships. In the 1980s the heartless way to ask for a divorce was by sending a fax, whereas now a changed status from "Married" to "Single" is an incentive to murder. It's the playground of bullies and the lure of the sex pest, it's the preferred method of finding old friends and an excellent way to lose your identity.
A thousand friends on Facebook will probably equate to four in real life and the most incessant pokers are those all alone on a Friday night. It doesn't matter how many "likes" you've had, it only takes one "unfriend" to send a fragile ego spiralling down to the ground and this is the problem with Facebook - it turns us all into fame hungry wannabes, constantly seeking approval and validation with a "Like" button or a friend request.
"Like" is such a nothing word - whatever happened to "I love it so much I want to rip it's clothes off and make mad passionate love to it" or "I hate it so much I want to pluck out it's feathers and wear them as a headdress?"
If Facebook had icons to convey these emotions I'd sign up for another twenty years because at the moment my moods cannot be expressed by a simple "thumbs up".
The whole adding and deleting of friends is also starting to feel morally wrong.There are a very few whom I love and adore, there are some I have for pure comedy value and there are a couple of people whom I genuinely like and admire and want to get to know better. In the past there have been people whom I have simply wanted to keep my eye on, just in case they said something bad about me and then there are the ex lovers, workmates and distant cousins. Most of these people I only ever keep in touch with on Facebook so it's the perfect way to be connected whilst keeping a safe distance and staying physically unconnected. I have deleted many - the pretentious ones with no humour, the self promoters and the ones who use an update to say "I'm waiting for my train" "I had hummus for lunch" "It's raining" and others who just constantly moan and bitch about their life.
In case you hadn't noticed this is "Facebook" not therapy, it's there to entertain and express not constantly complain and depress.
Facebook is my first social media love and I have stayed faithful and loyal to it. I haven't had my head turned by another, except for a very brief fling with Twitter and that only lasted for a 140 characters. Twitter seems too immediate and too flippant with it's attention span, like a friend who doesn't mind you talking but only if you make it quick or the type of person whom you'd go on a date with but would be forever looking over your shoulder in case someone better came along. Five years is a long time in a relationship and maybe Facebook and I have just hit a rocky patch? Maybe our love will endure, but at the moment who knows? It's a difficult decision to end any relationship.
Especially when there are almost 500 friends and a thousand pokes involved . . . .
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