This week I lowered myself to the level of ordinary mankind, abandoned my sense of dignity and individuality, and signed myself up to Facebook. Only to discover that all my friends were already there; it was just me that had been left behind. I soon began to see what all the fuss was about, however, as I began systematically trawling through lists of names, finding people I knew and making them my friends, stealing from other people’s lists and prying into their personal lives in the process. I shall turn this Facebook on itself, and with it take over the world. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha….
Actually, truth be told, it’s a very good system, and you only reveal the details you want to the people you allow. I can find people, sure, but I can only find out what they’ve been up to if by mutual consent we agree to be known as friends. There are also different levels of consent too, in that people you don’t know quite so well you can only show a limited profile, keeping those dark secrets to yourself and those closest to you.
So far I’ve managed to acquire 32 friends, including many whom I never (or hardly ever) see any more. I am now back in contact with friends from school, friends I’d forgotten, friends from university who have graduated, along with people I do see regularly. I have joined a few groups too, including one for Short Back and Sides, the barbershop quartet I was in at school with three of my mates. It is truly fascinating looking through photos of people I haven’t seen in years, finding out what they’ve been getting up to these last few years.
There is one serious flaw to this whole venture though. It’s nothing to do with security, or community, or useability, or any of those things that web site designers are interested in. The problem is that it is inexplicably addictive. I’ve only been registered for a day and a half, and already it’s on my browser’s favourites list, and I have the window open all the time just in case someone adds me as a friend or leaves me a message or tags in me in a photo. I have wasted so much time on this, it’s embarrassing.
Being sociable, even on the internet, clearly has its price.