Saturday, October 13, 2007

Virtually Friends

Virtual Friends
Image courtesy of Second Life/BBC

I'm almost embarrassed to write about Facebook, but I made a vow to myself a while ago not to condemn my own life-experience in this neurotic and self-defeating way, so here I am. Writing about Facebook in a consciously non-shameful way.

I was talked into Facebook, which I had heard about many times and whole-heartedly rejected being a part of - on the grounds that it sounded to me like self-indulgent wank - by my friend Ben, the actor. Actually, I wasn't so much talked into it as much as he just signed me up without my consent (giving me the most singularly obscene password that I have ever had to type into a machine on an almost daily basis and which, oddly, I am now loathe to change because it also links into a story about the night Ben and I met, which [is it grammatically improper to use 'which' twice in one sentence?] I am most definitely not going to tell here, or indeed anywhere it could be reproduced and attributed to me).

At first, I didn't understand what all the Facebook fuss was about. It all looked innocuous enough.

Then I started to get friends. Friends that threw sheep at me. Friends that poked me - and the childish novelty of that never wears off. In fact, as my friend Shelley and I were discussing the other day in the pub, Facebook really capitalises on childish novelty. When was the last time, as an adult, you flicked a bogey at someone? Or left a drawing of a big fat cock on one of their possessions? I'm hoping you're thinking it was at school or college, but my point kind of remains valid even if it wasn't.

Shelley had some interesting thoughts on the protocol and etiquette of Facebook bogey flicking and the like.

"What do you think of this?" she asked over her pint, "This girl, who I hardly actually know in the real world - I mean, like, we've spoken to each other in the pub twice or something - added me to her Facebook the other day."

"That doesn't sound so bad," I say, "Quite a few people I don't really know have added me. I don't mind. When I'm sat in the flat on my own sometimes looking at my Facebook, it makes me feel more popular that those people talk to me."

She looks at me for a moment without speaking and then smiles gently.

"That wasn't the end of my story, but, er, nice."

"Oh. Ok," I answer, "I was just kidding about the popularity thing."

"Uh-huh. Anyway, this girl adds me as a friend, which is cool, but then, after a couple of days, she flicks a bogey at me." Shelley pauses and looks at me.

"Oh," I answer, drawing out the syllable in a strangely satisfying way, "That's a bit familiar."

"Exactly," she answers, satisfied, "Way too familiar. I mean, you should know someone for much longer before you flick bogies at them. There should be some kind of relationship there. Past shared experiences that bring you closer as people, you know?"

The weird thing is, I actually do know what she means, and I'm in agreement.

"Maybe we should write a book about this sort of thing, " I suggest. "Like Facebook manners for beginners, or something. It would make it clear to people what the rules were. We could set out clear guidelines for the exact amount of time you have to know someone before you should flick bogies at them."

"Maybe," she agrees slowly. I let it go.

But, regardless of protocol, Facebook is an interesting phenomena, causing people to interact in a new way. Admittedly, I can think of more positive uses of our time, like meditation, or gradually working our way towards world peace, but even so.

At least it's not serial killing, and there's a lot to be said for that. 

You can take that as a recommendation. Sort of. 

My friend and fellow Peace Cafe Irregular, Spoon (I gave him this nickname because he's a little stirrer, and I'm unquestionably proud of how much he hates it - as an aside, it's a personal ambition of mine to get everyone calling him Spoon), has just joined Facebook and took great pleasure yesterday in announcing to the Cafe at large that he had just poked me. And from across the room.

See what you're missing out on?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see there are no new posts. Have you stopped writing for us now? I hope not.