September 13, 2006

Befriending the Evil Facelift

Print More

Ashamed as I am to be committing such a heinous act, I feel even more deserving of a death by stoning as I type out these words. And what particular activity am I referring to? Scorn me all you want, fellow haters, but I bet in the secret dusty cavity of your Ivy League heart reserved for typical societal no-no’s like illogical crushes (Why so appealing, Gary Oldman, despite your last name literally being all the reason I need to shun you?) and an urge to watch Jackass II (Let’s not even go there…), you’ve always dreamed of doing the same. That’s right, everyone. I’m Facebook-ing right now at Olin Library, blatantly ignoring the urgent technological needs of the still ravenous post-lunch crowd as they literally hang over the edge of Olin’s toddler-sized reference book cases, looking for a vacant seat.
It’s been about a week since Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the latest gimmicky cog of his time-sucking machine known commonly as Facebook and, more truthfully, as the harbinger of doom for every Internet-dependent procrastinator worldwide. Oh yes, I’m talking about Mini-Feed, a literal stalker’s paradise of an invention that tracks and highlights the every Facebook move of you and your friends. Complete with corresponding icons, of course. And of course, immediately following its introduction to the feeding frenzy of Facebook culture, Mini-Feed was decried far and wide for being too invasive, too creepy and more importantly, worthy of subsequent Facebook groups dedicated solely to how much it sucked. The entire shebang was then formulaically augmented by an apologetic note from Le Zuckerberg himself, who promised more reform.
Witnessing the entire melodrama unfold, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Do you really hate Mini-Feed? I certainly don’t. I love Mini-Feed and it marks the first addition in the spirit of Facebook since the introduction of Facebook albums. Come on Cornell, it’s the Facebook! Not the Personality Book, not the Truth Book, not the See What a Really Great Person I am in the Grand Scheme of Things, Comparatively Speaking Book. Facebook is face-dependent and meant for superficial browsing while most profiles are representational and meant to be browsed. Why not just leave Facebook-land altogether if you’re really concerned for privacy? It’s probably because you’re more concerned Susie Bigmouth has seen you write not-so-complimentary comments regarding her latest social escapades on Danny Tooniceformetodate’s wall.
I know, you think you’re all mature individuals who’ve moved on past high school or an alternate subplot of Mean Girls. And you’re probably wrong. I like to think of Facebook as US Weekly for the common folk, and even the most disagreeable among you must admit there’s a reason US Weekly is 80 percent pictures and 20 percent words. And, like its further evolved older sibling, Facebook is certainly not about reality. At most, it is a SparkNotes version of someone’s ideal representation of his own personality and at worst, it is just make believe (As the Facebook friend of Paris Hilton, I should know). It’s social promotion, it’s a directory and it’s founded in an altogether escapable virtual reality.
While it may be unfortunate for you that we now have an unlimited paparazzi-type access to your social life, it is at least limited only to your movement on a singular website. Arguing the influence of this website over your life, however, is an entirely different if not entirely awkward (for you) topic. To draw a slightly overdone analogy, celebrities must endure this sort of invasion and speculation on a daily basis because it is only a logical consequence of exposure. So, unless Mini-Feed starts feeding my social security number or credit card information to everyone whom I’ve deemed normal enough to approve as a “friend,” I really couldn’t care less.