The rush I got when I found my long lost friends on Facebook sounded more like a war cry. By now you should be familiar with this facebook phenomenon. Why do I call it a phenomenon? Well, simply because people who swore off such cyber peripherals like friendster and myspace are actively building up their web of social contacts on this perpetual motion machine.
Taking as these technophobes have taken the effort to join this sub-culture I call “Faces”: A community of people you actually know interacting with one another in the quirkiest ways (e.g.. Buying imaginary drinks for friends, turning friends into zombies and vampires). You can read little stories of your friends (updated in real time and dubbed “News Feed”), interact with them through countless cool and sometimes nonsensical applications, see how your friends met their friends and so on. Every application is almost like a survey on human behavior. The little updates on your profiles act like time stamps of your life.
What makes this website so thoroughly addictive is the many ways in which people can interact with one another – eg. biting them or sending them an imaginary gift. ‘Gee. Thanks for the cude teddy I can’t touch or snuggle with when I cry myself to sleep tonight. Sweet.’
For those who enjoy being a silent-observer, this really is the end of a deviant and perverted rainbow for stalkers, thanks to Harvard mastermind and God to some, Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook really has stepped up social networking into a new realm of interaction by giving you the trompe l’oeil of freedom to roam in a very controlled environment. This is not Myspace or Friendster where you are free to view profiles and add strangers and receive spam/chain mails. Why? Simply because this site operates like a real-life village, community if you will, of real life people. You won’t find 281 profiles of Angelina Jolie’s from Singapore alone. No phony profiles since you have to be in a real life group/sub-community or an organization where you have to email from a valid Edu or Org address. Facebook gives you ‘privacy’ by only showcasing your profile and every little thing you do to your friends (whom you might have been close to in your schoolyard days but now wouldn’t “got a dollah?”)
I joined Facebook’s social network sphere after seeing friends drop like flies. This addiction – is unnatural. It’s unhealthy but rest assured, it is as common as a relief-patch for boredom and in some cases, loneliness. But of course, when you find yourself glued to your laptop and you try fighting the urge to break free by controlling your bladder with your mind, it is time to seriously step back before u excuse yourself for peeing in your pants!
Its a familiar feeling, once the initial excitement and fun subsides – if you had myspace or friendster, you would know – Its the reminder of how detached we are from one another. That MOST of these people we call friends on these sites, aren’t really our friends. Friends you once shared umbilical chords with, now either ignore you or simply send you imaginary drinks, imaginary hugs, imaginary pokes as means of ‘keeping in touch’ with you. It’s great when they are half way across the world – it can be comforting. But when its someone living in the same city or apartment block, it’s bloody depressing.
This facebook, is a tool for the advertising and marketing world to prey on us. We are their charts, their case studies, their statistics, their new generation of bear-trap lovers…… 286 people from 53 different corners of the world in a single minute *snap*. Facebook is a more compelling advertising opportunity than other social networking sites because of deep penetration within a series of micro communities (for example, “I heart Ipods”, “Melbourne is better than Sydney”, “I am a sucker for pretty packaging” and so on). If a local advertiser wants to target a particular sub-community, Facebook is the best way to get the advertiser’s message to that audience.
But of course, we are so immersed in it, we don’t realize we have price tags for faces. If you don’t believe me, for current facebookers, add the Datapoint application where you have $100 in your account to use for surveys (being offered as a trial play-thing but will soon be available to anyone who is willing to pay up to thousands to conduct surveys). You can ask people what they think of the New Harry Potter book, Angelina or Jeniffer or my all-time-favorite, Mac or PC? And what drives these people to answer these questions?? Other applications like Booze Mail where you have to earn points by filling out surveys to buy a round of tequila or Mojito for your friends. *Thats the sound of a thousand bear-traps going off at the same time*
I can’t quite decide if I am for this facebook or against but I sure as hell am on it (guilty as charged) and I won’t be surprised if one day I’ll be that damn advertising researcher collecting consumer behavior data on that damn site. Fellow Facers be warned.
My advice to you is by all means, enjoy utilizing Facebook but be circumspect and vigilant of it. You wouldn’t want to fall prey into the mighty bear-traps of corporate-globalized-brainwashing!