Sunday, 28 November 2010

Epic Fail(book)

Since I quit facebook a few months ago, a few people have asked me why and I've always felt I've been a little dishonest with them; largely due to my inherent laziness but also because the answer would contain a bit more detail than they were probably looking for. But hey! That's what blogs are for, right? So take my hand, friend, and follow me into the murky world of my thoughts on facebook. As you'll have notice, in a classic heel turn since all this, I've went back hat in hand to that very place. Though it was for a good cause, I felt- pimping the blog. And now here we are with this entry, which is talking about why I left it in the first place. Layered, yo.

I knew that turning off my account was going to happen sooner or later, I was just waiting for some impetuous to finally make the move. When it happened I didn't regret it for a second, but then started to ask myself why I didn't. I'd found it so useful and often more enjoyable than I'd care to admit. In the time between now and then 'The Social Network' has been and gone and I think Mark Zuckerberg's description of what he wanted from facebook sums up exactly why I love it and hate it. I'm paraphrasing here, but the core of his idea was distilling the college (or university) experience and putting it online. You remember, college, right? All good times, all the time, yeah? Of course it wasn't. Christ, it was horrible at times. Exactly the way facebook can be horrible at times. The way things can flair up out of nothing and how an innocent joke or comment can have unforeseen repercussions or leave hurt feelings. The big difference is that the things you write on facebook will often be there for days, weeks, months or years. Yeah, you can delete them; but writing, even in digital form, tends to last a lot longer than something you've said. That's not even to mention the things that go unsaid.

For me, the minefield that is socialising in 'real' life was more than enough. When I go home, I want to escape that minefield, not immediately leap into another one. It's so DAMN compelling you can't help yourself, though. You want to know what's happened to your friends. You want to know what that change in relationship status means. Have they split up? Why? Who was that person they were with in that photo they posted? What did that status update REALLY mean? People love to gossip and they love to know what’s going on with their friends especially. It's like Heat magazine except all your mates are in it. The pictures tend to be at least slightly less sexy though. Most of the time. Deny it all you like, you've done it too. An innocent look at an interesting photograph has led to a half hour of facebook trawling (or stalking in some cases) for the vast majority of users, I guarantee. This is what facebook has made us. A generation of social voyeurs. And I wanted out. So I got out, but they pulled me back in. For now.

I'm sure people will tell me not too take it so seriously or the like, but I think you'd be missing the point. For better or for worse, facebook is such a major part of most of our lives now, even for those who haven't signed up. It's a cornerstone of our digital and our real lives. Too many of us rely on it in ways we don't even really think about. It's an insidious beast, for sure.

I know that a lot of this has been said before (and far more elegantly, I'm sure), but I've been mulling about how we're being affected by facebook and online networking in general for a long time now. I don't think I like it and I don't think I like how it effects us. At the very least, it's not a good fit for me, social retard that I am. I do love technology though and they're becoming increasingly difficult to separate, so I guess I'm just going to have to get used to it. I wonder if this is a sign that I'm getting old? My hands do seem to be becoming increasingly hairy, which must be another of the early warning signs. To either old age or lycanthropy, I guess.

Hey, I am excited about the way things are progressing mostly, though. The iPad and the iPhone genuinely blow me away. We're getting increasingly closer to the Star Trek style future I'd always hoped I'd live to see. At least the original series, anyway. Have you seen those sliding doors at Tesco's? Woah.

*Yeah, I couldn't find an image I liked to go with this article, so I just posted a picture of some bunnies in cups. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


  1. It's only facebook! Take what you want out of it. Log on check your messages and leave. Don't do a world of warcraft and let it suck away your life.

    I knew I'd seen your bunnies before.

  2. I'll bet that's what they said about Hitler at first too.

    'Who is that guy?'

    'Huh? Oh him. It's only Hitler.'

    I'll look back and laugh when facebook's robot army is trundling over your corpses.

  3. You'd be the main target Andy. Your allied forces against facebook will be on the first to go. Time to choose your side.