Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ah, Facebook!

I love Facebook.  I didn't always feel that way, but over the course of a few weeks my opinion changed.  Like most people, I was on the Myspace first, had an account there for a few years and I had a bunch of friends, followed a bunch of bands and porn stars and had a slew of mediocre to terrible regional unsigned bands and artists friending me so they could promote their horribly-produced albums and bowling alley gigs or whatever and it was all good.  I did my little layout, stuck all kinds of gadgety crap on there and just drank in the wonderful world Tom had created for me.  Sure, I got annoyed that most of those Myspace gadgets would shit out after a week or two and become a dead mess of code on my page, like the online player that I spent hours loading up with music that lasted about a month before it was shut down for copyright issues or the friend tracker that was unavailable half the time, but there was still nothing better for sort of keeping in touch with friends and checking out PG-13 pics of porn stars running around being porn stars and getting updates on when Napalm Death would be touring in the U.S. all in one place.  So, when gadgets would stop working, I would just delete them and not replace them.  I stopped trying to keep up with the layout shit and just focused on navigating through the jungle of gig promotions and survevys in my bulletin board and inbox and trying to separate the legitimate messages from my friends from the "Hey, check us out at Bob's Pizza Emporioum" or "New album in stores now!" crap.  Hey, it was still better than nothing.  I started hearing about another social networking site when the love was still strong between Myspace and I, a place called Facebook.  At the time, Facebook required a college email address, and as such was pretty specific in it's membership.  Being that I was not attending school at that time, I hadn't yet decided to work on a degree at that point, and most of my friends and I were above the age of the typical socially-networking college student, I didn't give it much thought.  More time passed, more bad unsigned bands deluged my inbox with friend requests, more spam and junk clogged up my inbox and bulletins and I found myself spending less and less time messing with Myspace.  It wasn't that I didn't want to spend more time interracting with friends online, it was that it wasn't all that easy to do on Myspace.  You pretty much just had to message each other or post comments on each other's profile and while that was cool, it didn't really require real-time active participation.  It was like fancier email, and I don't check my email more than about once a day.  Also, it wasn't possible to really include other people in your interractions, you could forward stuff or whatever, but again the lack of an active networking interface made it less personal, so you didn't just talk about whatever, you waited until you had something somewhat important to say and then conversations often deteriorated anyway because maintaining an inbox conversation stream with someone when each new thought requires a separate message and there's no continuity gets old fairly quickly.  Well, this was now a couple years after I first heard about Facebook and once again the name would pop up, this time from a friend of mine who asked me if I was on FB.  "I thought it was just like college kids on there or whatever?"  I said.  "Nope, everyone can get on Facebook now, you should check it out, it's really cool.  I'm on there, we can be friends!"  So, I reluctantly decided to sign up and check it out...

The first thing that struck me about Facebook was no layouts.  At this point, that was a huge selling point for me.  Not having to search around the web for a layout that wasn't lame, overused or steeped in banner ads for the stupid site that hosted it was very appealing.  The second thing I immediately liked about Facebook was that there was exclusivity, gaining a friend on Facebook was more of an accomplishment, the person had to want to be friends with you, not just accept because it was one more person who could hear about their upcoming show or check out their pics and profile page.  There were networks going on here, friends of friends and people you may know.  I found a few old acquaintances from school and my friends list grew from 2 to 5 to 10, and I was kind of digging it.  I liked being able to say what was on my mind more and getting responses from several different people and watching the conversation stream develop.  This was real-time networking, this was group participation.  It was like hanging out at a party, you had all the little groups of friends all over and you could just sort of float around and mingle with everyone and it was cool, fun and the more friends I found the more addicting it became.  Then there were the quizzes, OH THE QUIZZES!  I miss the quizzes, "What kind of car are you?"  "What personality disorder do you have?"  "Who is your celebrity love match?"  The dumber the better!  They killed time, kept you hanging out on FB after you read everyone's replies to your statuses and comments on your pics or whatever and they let you share your results and find other people who got similar answers.  It all worked at accomplishing the big picture of FB that elevated it above Myspace - getting people together and helping to form new friendships and strengthen old ones.  I was totally into it.  I was into the "Top 5" lists, I was into the games, it was all good.  Day by day, more and more people got on FB, it got bigger and bigger and so did my friends list.  Even now though, my friends list is much smaller than it was on Myspace, but they're actual friends.  They interract, even if it's just to lurk around and read my statuses without ever commenting, but I know they're there and every now and then someone who I thought didn't even pay attention to my shit will send me a message saying they read everything I say, it's flattering and very cool.  Granted, I'm more particular about who's friend requests I approve, but I have a lot more friends than I ever even expected to have when I first joined Facebook.  Pretty much from about the first month that I was on Facebook, I figured my Myspace days were numbered.  The more people joined my friends network on FB, the less time I spent on Myspace.  After a month, I only went there to check my inbox, which was basically nothing but random friend requests from bands and promotional spam anyway.  By the second month of FBing, I stopped checking Myspace each day.  I checked it once a week, then once a month, and then when I realized I hadn't visited my Myspace page in 4 months, I closed my account and never looked back.

I don't even know how long I've been on Facebook, 2 or 3 years maybe?  Maybe more, maybe less?  I know that as time went on the site has changed and a lot of the fun time wasters I used to look forward to wasting time on have gone away.  Gone are the quizzes and the top 5 lists and IQ tests and stuff, they got ruined when everyone started making spam/virus bots out of them.  Zynga has become the devil with their stupid farmville, cityville, frontierville, officeville, lameville, assjuiceville and mafia wars always bugging me and giving me new stuff to have to block from my news feed all the time.  Ok, yes I play mafia wars, but at this point it's like banging an annoying ex, I hate doing it, but I feel like I put all this time into it already that it seems like a waste to just completely walk away, so I kind of just give it a half-assed effort and tell myself one day I'll break it off for good...  I missed the time wasters though, I missed the little things that would keep me interested in FB after I read all the status updates and comments and replied to everything I wanted to reply to.  On the plus side, the more friends I gained, the more stuff I had to read and comment on, so the less noticable it was that there wasn't yet another personality quiz to take and kill 5 more minutes, but I still found myself missing them here and there, even as annoying as it was when they were in their prime and just clogging my news feed.  "What Manchester United player are you?"  Really?  I didn't even know I HAD British FB friends...

Then something wonderful happened.  Something that lit a spark in my little FB world and introduced an exciting new organism into the ecosystem.  Slowly but surely, all of the trainwreck motherfuckers that I used to know from my hometown started getting on FB and requesting my friendship.  Not only that, but the hot mess that was bubbling beneath the surface of some of my online FB friends began to boil over as well.  My FB friend's dialogue went from being almost entirely "normal" and relatively civil, intelligent and legible, with some sort of clear stream of consciousness to being peppered with little chocolate chips of pure white trash, gangsta, fuck a spellcheck, wow thanks for sharing, way too open and gloriously inappropriate DRAMA!  Oh how I celebrated these new crazy fucks who were all up on my news feed bitching about their baby daddies, calling bitches out to fight them, talking shit about their families and posting while drunk like it was an olympic sport!

"GnA FyT DiS NgA iF ShE dUn StP tLkN sHyT bT mE, dNt H8 mE cUz U 8nT mE bTcH!"

Oh, you glorious, stupid motherfucker!  Shine on you crazy diamond!  I especially love the fact that I went to school with half of these people and I know they're capable of carrying on a normal conversation and writing in proper English.  It's just awesome how passionately they have thrown themselves into writing like a ghetto superstar.  Personally, I think it takes a lot of effort to capitalize every other word, use numbers and symbols instead of letters and make sure that every single word you type is misspelled.  I recognize that it probably took you just as long to write that disaster as it took me to read and translate it, and that's why it's so awesome!  It's hard work looking that unintelligent all the time!  It's not just the ridiculous fucking way that these special, wonderful FB friends write that makes them amazing, but also the content of what they write as well.  Is it the most awesome thing ever when a girl posts a rant that requires 3 or 4 separate status updates to bitch about her man leaving her at home with 4 kids while he goes out to fuck his fat-ass ex, only to post the next day about how he cooked her breakfast and is now the sweetest man alive?  You bet your ass it is.  Is it glorious when two girls who never got along in school decide to hook it up and have a good ol' online catfight on each other's walls?  It's Glorious Gaynor baby.  Even the douche chill shit is awesome, like that friend who hasn't quite realized it's 2011 and posts a racist joke, or the girl who thinks that just because her current BF is black that it's ok to drop the "N" bomb every other sentence.  Or the hypochondriac who is ALWAYS complaining about being sick, being in pain, taking meds, having bad reactions to the meds, going to the doctor, making appointments to go to the doctor, being pissed cuz the doctor didn't do anything, being pissed cuz the meds didn't do anything... literally never talking about anything other than how bad they feel, ever.  I love the dysfunction, I love the issues, I love it all.  It's like all the best parts of bad reality TV transcribed into short little snippets.  Fuck a quiz, I want to hear about your ex not paying child support some more!  Screw a personality disorder test, I'm watching one in action right now!  Top 5 list?  I got a top 5 trainwreck friends list and it's a constant battle for 1st place!  Sometimes I am so flabbergasted by the sheer chaos and stupidity that these special friends post that I briefly consider dropping them, just because it can be almost overwhelming, but then I catch myself, like "Are you CRAZY??"  You're right, self, I can't drop these guys, they're fucking GOLDEN!  Plus, one day I'm going to be sitting here staring at the "New Post" button on my blog dashboard and trying to figure out what the hell I'm going to write about today, and THAT'S when these crazy shits will earn their keep and give me some material to work with!

So thank you my special FB drama friends.  Thank you for casting off the shackles of education, spelling and grammar.  Thank you for soundly rejecting the concept of TMI.  Thank you for believing with all your hearts that nothing in your crazy, fucked up lives isn't worth sharing on FB.  Thank you for not knowing the difference between a private message and a wall post.  Thank you for the glitter-laden "Blingy" pictures you post where you write a bunch of bafflingly arrogant trash talk about yourself in the margins of a picture of you posing in front of a mirror in your messy trailer while one of your kids mills around in a diaper in the background next to the coffee table with a bong on it.  Thank you for keeping Facebook awesome.  Myspace ain't got shit on you.