Happy ninth birthday: The perils of being a Facebook slut

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By Roy /  04 Feb 2013 , 12:40

Editors note: Facebook celebrates its ninth birthday today, amid much fanfare and milestones, but there is also it’s ‘dark side’. What happens to the perennial Facebook slut. Firstpost had first published this article in May 2011, but given that the ‘perils’ of the Facebook slut are probably even more exacerbated today than they were then, we thought theoccasionof Facebook’s ninth birthday would be a good day to share this article.

Dear Facebook Friend,

It’s not you. It’s me.I little-thumbs-up like you. But there’s really nothing in my life I can share with 1,507 of you. I know, I know, I did it.I let you all in in various moments of weakness – real friends;mere acquaintances; my boss;an ex; my aunt. Also that school friend from second standardwho I have not seen- for good reason- in 27 years; someone I didn’t recognise but then we had 23 friends in common, so what the heck.

My friends list even includesan NGO. Really, when did an NGO become my friend? When was the last time you had coffee with an NGO?

Like all addicts, I want to blame everyone except me.It’s all Mark Zuckerberg’s fault. He made it too easy to go overboard.

Have you noticed that no one uses business cards anymore? Just find me on Facebook, they say. So I add them until I realise I’ve put all my different worlds into the blender and ended up with a giant khichdi. I’ve figured out too late there is NOTHING in my life I can share with all these people. I wouldn’t have a party where I’d invite ALL of you. And I certainly don’t want the whole lot of you to know how hungover I am this morning.

The tragedy is the site was once all about sharing. Now it’s become all about self-censorship.Just the other day I went to a really boring pretentious party. I wanted to come home and share that with you. Then I realised the woman who threw the party could read my status update. So I bit my tongue andgrumbled about how warm it wasinstead.

Dear Facebook friend, is this what we are reduced to? Talking about the weather? Has FB turned me into a politely dull Brit now?

It’s not even about what we post on our walls. We have to police what others do now.My gay friend, a college professor, had to create two profiles – one gay, one not-so-gay. He doesn’t want his students tosee the little videos and comments his more flamboyant friends are slapping on his wall. Why don’t you just not be friends with students, I ask him. “Too late,” he says. “I let a couple in in the early days.”

I look at my friends’ list and I am mystified. Why do so-and-so and I have 103 friends in common? But I don’t even have his number saved on my phone. What does that mean?

The problem I think is Facebook came out of the fevered brains of university students. In that world everyone was swimming in the same hormonally heated pool, worrying about the same things – grades, sex, booze, the end of the world. It was all about expressing identity on the Internet, a connection between people, something that nobody was doing well on the Internet. Facebook changed that but now I realisein the real world you really do have different identities – good son and momma’s boy, whisky drinker, dutiful Employee of the Month, Scrabble fiend, heavy metal addict, SxyGuyLkn4Fun.

Getty Images
Getty Images

So now the New York Times tells me Facebook has alternatives – micro versions of itself – Path, GroupMe, Frenzy, Rally Up, Shizzlr, Bubbla. They make it easier to group your friendsinto smaller, isolated little circles. They mimic the real world.Facebook is trying to do the same with all its groups and privacy settings.But is it too late to stuff the genie back into different bottles?

I look at my friends list and wonder how I’d group all of you. And my head starts to swim.I’d signed on to a social utopia where everything was equal, where we shared everything. Now I have a permissions page bristling with checkboxes.

Where’s the checkbox for “I want my aunt to see all my party pictures except for that one at the very end when I thought it would be a good idea to pretend to be a go-go boy but I’d like to share that with my best friend in San Francisco?” And what do I tell my aunty when she says “What happened? Yesterday I could see everything on your wall and today I can’t?”

Dear Facebook friend, what happened to us? Why don’t I talk to you instead of stalking you via your status updates? Why don’t I just send you a message instead of posting something on my wall and waiting anxiously to see if you respond? I feel guilty when I show up in your news stream but you don’t show up in my mine for reasons I can’t fathom. You know I moved across the world but I don’t know your father died.

“You obviously don’t read my Facebook page like I read yours,” you tell me mournfully. A person I was seeing once said, “How come you never have time to email me? You obviously have time to go on Facebook and change your status.”

Dear God, do I need Facebook guilt in my life now?

Don’t worry, I am not about to unfriend you. I am too addicted to Facebook. But we really need to talk about the future of our relationship. Really talk, you know, but first, I need to respond to the Superpokes from my 1,506 other friends.

Muchlove like,

Sandip

Bonus video:

A fellow Facebook addict who took the time to compose a song about her Facebook related travails:

Extra reading:

Not sure how to control your account and protect your privacy? Online help is at hand!

A Guide to Facebook’s New, Simpler Privacy Controls. Click here.

The Facebook Setting You Should Change as Quickly as Possible. Click here.

How To Keep Facebook from Humiliating You Today.

Add Extra Security to Your Facebook Account.


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