I got to thinking about Facebook this morning. What a bizarre phenomenon. A magical virtual world where you can catch up with all your friends and virtual friends, read inspirational quotes and revel in idiotic pictures of small, cuddly animals, preferably in ridiculous human-like poses.
You can be bullied, fall in love, organize parties and protests. You can stalk and talk and unfriend dorks. It's like Adventure Island, the television show I watched as a child. It's Hogwarts and Tron and everyone's locker room. Up to the minute, live news coverage and no-one on the planet can die without Facebook knowing about it first. Crimes have been solved using Facebook. Fugitives caught. Cheating partners busted. You can share your music, your art, your thoughts and your family snapshots.
Today there has been a shot from the new t.v show 'The Shire' next to a cartoon of a fellow stabbing himself in the eye. Visual puns abound in Facebook land. The latest fad is posting pictures of magical looking bedrooms, houses, dens, libraries and nooks, cottages and such.
Books get promoted (yes I plug mine mercilessly). Tunes get shared and forwarded to ears around the globe. Sweethearts from thirty years ago tell you their incredible life stories and new friends say hi and become close without ever meeting.
It's also addictive.
And impersonal and slightly unnerving.
We are beginning to live a lot of our lives online and perhaps reality is suffering for it. If I don't check in regularly, the Facebook notifications can be overwhelming. People post photos of you that you'd really rather not share with the world. A child can be murdered and a page can be hacked to spew filth and abuse. It is as dangerous as it is entertaining.
People have been groomed, lured and assaulted/raped/murdered. An off-hand remark can lead to losing not just friends (who are collected like trading cards) but also real family and jobs. You can stalk just about anyone despite the 'securities' in place. You can share in the lives of some truly remarkable people and also be bored shitless by those late night boozers who post things about loved ones past and try to engage you in a mindless chat.
The witty postcards full of profanity were funny but they are getting tired. If someone mentions Fifty Shades of Grey again or posts a kitten snuggling a lion one more time, I am going to unfriend them. It's so easy to drop deadwood now. It used to be months of ignoring phone calls, cutting conversations short...but now you just click a button and like an eject button, they're gone.
Sometimes Facebook is the only way I can reach my kids. One of them keeps unfriending me when I comment on his posts but I hack back into his account and send myself a friend request which I then accept. It's duplicitous and thrilling. Hacking into accounts is fun. Posting embarrassing comments when there is even more fun.
We are probably being watched eagerly by the sinister Big Brothers of the world but what the hell. In many ways it is wrapping us all into one big playground. It's unifying and lovely to collect friends and bring the long lost back to your bosom.
But it is sure making concentrating on working at a computer much harder. I'm sure while we are being uber- friendly, we are being ever so less productive in other ways. My word count daily has dropped as my friend list has increased. But at the end of the day it is so nice to find lost mates and it brings a smile to my face to read some pretty funny things from time to time. But I can live without the Hallmark pics. Really. A monkey in a jumpsuit feeding a lamb by baby-bottle is not cute. It's abuse!!!