The High Cost of Free Stuff
(facebook: a quick surreality check)
Monday, December 03, 2012 3:31 AM
Well, here we are in early December. A nice calm in-between cacophonies. The national elections are behind us. The Thanksgiving traffic is behind us. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us. But some real, serious stupidity is on the horizon. So while we have a minute, let's talk about something that's not insultingly stupid.
Yeah, good point. Okay, let's talk about something different.
facebook: that thing we love to hate. facebook has become the Archie Bunker of the digital generation: strange, loud, and full of crude remarks - but still oddly addictive; not really dangerous, but not really helpful, either; opinionated, but ultimately irrelevant.
facebook is a lot like the way The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's famous Encyclopedia Galactica describes Earth: mostly harmless.
You can tell that facebook has reached an iconic level in American culture, because our elder saints - the members of the real Greatest Generation - are officially "worried about" facebook. And you can tell they're officially worried because they've started adding that dreaded code-word for "trouble ahead" - the prefacing "the." You know the "the" I mean:
"My daughter spends all her time on the facebook."
"That bar's got the rock-n-roll. Shameful."
"I hope he's not doing the marijuana."
"Cheez, these Commies!"
"Archie, are you on the facebook?"
According to the internet, there are now over 1 billion facebook users, possibly as many as six of them using their real name. A billion people. Imagine that. One out of every seven people on Earth, steadily misusing "they're" and "its," overusing exclamation points, and reflexively typing "lol" every eleven seconds.
One out of seven. It's weird. Why, if you randomly picked any 100 people on Earth, chances are they would be more effective than the current US Senate. (No, that's not relevant to this discussion, but it's still pretty weird.)
And believe me: these facebook fan(atic)s - I call them "the SocNets" - take their facebook very seriously. If a SocNet reads something on facebook, it is Truth (or as the SocNets would put it, it is "like wholly writ and stuff lol.")
So, as a public service to the SocNets - and at the risk of being a stormcrow - here's a partial list of clarifications lol:
** Not everyone wants to play Farmville. Really. They don't.
** There is no miracle fruit that is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy.
** Abraham Lincoln does not, in fact, have his own facebook page.
** No. Seriously, no. They don't want to play Farmville. Or Farmville 2. Stop asking.
** No, they don't want to play Pet Society or Pet Rescue Saga or Fishville, either.
** There is not some kind of mystical connection between facebook and the universe, comingling in such a way that if you share a certain post with a certain number of SocNets within a certain period of time, good things will happen to you. What is more likely is that all those SocNet share-ees will start lol-ing @ u.
** Warnings from "friends" to ignore messages from this-person-or-that will not cause your computer to become infected with a virus. Remember: these "friends" are people who can no longer complete a sentence without lobbing in an "lol," an acronym which has now officially become the most-typed phrase since the English language was invented in the Fifth Century by Cedric "Al" Gorewulf. (source: Wicked-Step-Ex-Pedia)
** No, not even Mafia Wars. Or Lost Bubble, Bubble Blitz, Bubble Epic, or Yoville, either. Really, they don't.
** The universal wisdom contained in a facebook post is not directly proportional to the number of exclamation points used to punch up that post.
** If you've sent someone five thousand invitations to play games, and they've pleaded with you to stop sending them game invitations, you will not wear them down by sending them several thousand more.
** Clicking "like" on a photoshopped picture of an allegedly health-challenged human (or animal) will not automagically generate a cash donation to that human/imal's health situation.
** You cannot modify facebook's rules, guidelines, privacy policies, mission statement, or internal genetic structure simply by posting some bobo cheesy quasi-legal disclaimer, even if said disclaimer includes Perry Mason-ish terms like "heretofore" or "therein" or "Berner Convention."
** You cannot get a computer virus simply by adding this-person-or-that as a "friend." On the other hand, should you choose to meet that person late one night for a friendly cocktail at some dim back-street bar named "Selma's House of Pain" without even confirming that this new "friend" is the gender they say they are, all bets are off.
** By the way: there is no such thing as a "Berner Convention."
** It is not true that people just can't get enough of photos of cats posing anthropomorphically above captions of mangled, misspelled baby talk.
** Regardless of the actual exclamation point tonnage, the rest of us do not, in fact, "have to see this!!!" Neither is it likely to be "the best thing ever!!!" nor is it guaranteed to "leave" us in "tears!!!" But if you keep it up, there's a "good chance" we will "never contact you again."
** When calculating your credit score, the major credit bureaus no not take into account the number of "friends" you have on facebook. However, the bureaus may consider the number of "friends" you have named "Sybil the Trisexual Vegan Vampire," or if your rÈsumÈ lists the Berner Convention as a former employer.
** There is no app that can tell you who has recently viewed your profile. The fact that you are that desperately interested in your own profile is kinda scary.
** LOL is still an acronym for "Laughing Out Loud." It is not short for "Lucifer Our Lord." However, if your profile name is "Sybil the Trisexual Vegan Vampire," all bets are off.
** No matter how many "friends" you have on facebook, very, very few of them care that you just scored a Double Taupe Glazed Ferret Discount Yo-Bonus in Mafia Farmville Bingoland Sim-Wars III.
** If all you ever do is share other people's posts, you are not providing the online world with a valuable and otherwise neglected service. At least once every 4-6 months, try to have an original thought.
** When someone asks you to "post this on your status for one hour," and you don't do it, that does not mean you don't like that person. However, if they keep doing that, you may soon learn to dislike them. A lot.
** By the way: that same person may say they know, in advance, which of their friends will post it. No, they don't.
** They may also quote some percentage ("78.298% of you won't post this on your status for one hour"), claiming they know this percentage to be true.
** No, they don't.
** If they challenge your facts, threaten to bring them before the Berner Convention.
** God is not going to decide how you spend eternity based on whether or not you share a post.
** If you have enough common sense not to click on links that promise you free iPhones, then be happy. You are smarter than 78.298% of SocNets.
And one more thing.
** On the pending Mayan doomsday this December, facebook is not planning to automatically start dragging the Earth into the Sun.
** This is not an option that you can change by going to Settings > Planetary Settings > Trajectory.
** And there is no 'Avoid Apocalypse' checkbox that you can tick.
I hope that helped clear up some misconceptions. We're at a nice, calm pause in the year just now, and we don't need any distractions. After all, it's December, and you know what that means. You know what's coming.
No, not "last call" at Club Maya. Worse.