It occurred to me the other day that as my FaceBook account grew and my “friends” toppled over some vast and improbable number that I may have got the idea of what FaceBook was all about, slightly wrong.
Don’t get me wrong there are many people out there who have far more connections on the site; it just became worryingly apparent to me that I probably only know 10 percent of the people on there by name or face and even then that’s a fairly large amount of people in ones life at anyone time.
The idea behind FaceBook was to connect with friends and family and share information, messages and pictures. A community based online where you could catch up, interact and feel that connection with people who perhaps you hadn’t see for quite a while.
The problem is that a lot of us haven’t seen some of our “friends” ever. We have never met them. We may have “liked” a few comments and scanned there pictures for bikini shots or holiday snaps, but beyond that they are merely a number in our collection. Perhaps they were a friend of a friend, or they said something that we once liked and asked them to be our friends, or as in my case, they heard I may have been on radio once and thought that a “friending” was in order.
Facebook seems to have recognized this problem of late and decided that “Fan” pages are perhaps better than actual accounts. I agree. I am to the point where I want my immediate family and friends back. I want to cluster-bust through the haze of Free Cows and turnips from Farmville, an invite to a birthday of someone I have never met and groups that back Sarah Palin for President and Julius Malema for martyrdom. I cannot see my friends for the for the “likes”.
Surely this mirrors society and where it is at at the moment too. We went through a huge age of getting to know the world and bringing down barriers via the internet. Knowledge is now so free and accessible that everyone feels they need to share things with you. I am guilty of it via twitter and blogging right here.
We are so used to consuming information that we have become bulimic on the stuff and I for one, am about to throw it all up. Email, FB messages, Direct Twitter, BBM, sms and cell phone calls are just a few of the ways you and I interact on a daily basis. Everywhere we turn there is a device that is able to communicate and be used to to message the outside world.
Previously before FaceBook was ever thought of lonely people had to write poems, do heroin and dress up in black to find a community that felt as lonely and as sad as they did. Now they merely send out FaceBook status message about how desperate they are that no one understands them – and we just “like: it.
Popular people used to just beat you up in the hallways or make sure that non of the girls liked you. Now they just stick up pictures of their latest party smeared with self-shot pouting poses of themselves and give you the finger that way.
There are two important things to be considered here though. One. I sincerely believe that as a race (human) we are yearning for smaller groups. Like minded. Individual again. Quieter and less invasive. 5000 will become 500 will become 50.
Secondly. But Sadly. We are voyeurs of others by nature. How often have you said, or someone said to you “I am a people watcher – I could do it all day”. Facebook, Twitter and any other social media allows us to spy on the other humans and see what they are doing and how they do it. We emulate, disregard or change behavior based on what we see and learn. We adapt based on what we take in.
As long as we have the freedom to watch quietly and make up our minds about people based on pictures, comments and the fact that they just liked “Nikes Fan Page”, we will do so.
We may however shrink back and be less noisy ourselves and find other avenues to find our real friends again. And there inside our new small caves we will tell the others what we have seen. And in turn they will tell others. And the whole thing will start again.