The gist of the post is that the blog author deliberately changed her birthday date information to something false to see what would happen, and was astonished when people she thought knew her well wished her a happy birthday anyways.
The conclusion was that apparently many using Facebook do so in a very reflexive, reactive manner without too much thought.
I think the banality runs deeper. I had been talking to mer about the closing of VOX and how the niche had been destroyed. We had noted how TypePad was starkly public, and I noted that such seemed to be the style of those using the platform, notably those who are or had worked at Six Apart. She told me that the blogosphere seems to be moving more in a public direction, rather than a private one. Of course, Facebook came up, as it has been infamous for too much sharing. Many business experts had written about curtailing information that could destroy employment prospects. mer’s example was “public hangovers”, and I thought of the prototypical Young Professional realizing that the beer pong picture at a party needed to disappear… although, admittedly, said YP may have well had a public hangover first, indeed.
My arrival and departure from Facebook came in waves. First, I was curious about a new baby girl of a friend I knew through an online game. Facebook was the way she shared pictures to friends and family, she said.
I think I reluctantly agreed when I thought back to skipping my 10 year high school reunion– I only thought of going to it because another friend of mine was in charge, but decided not to because the activities of golf and drunken conversation were not my idea of fun. I remembered reading how many were opting for Facebook instead of the awkward posturing that still happens at many reunions (and I had been to a few of my parents’ reunions, and seen such).
I got sucked into the land of time-wasting game applications pretty fast after that, from invites of people I actually knew face-to-face. Not too long after, my contacts list swelled to over 1000.
I will not go into long detail about my experiences playing online games and interacting with player communities, but on Facebook– it was a little too up close and personal. To play various games, you had to add a user lock, stock, and barrel, or at least you had to if you were to get ahead. And so then I was snowed by many strangers babbling about all sorts of things, especially those controversial subjects that must be broached lightly if you wish to keep good company. Of course, this being the Internet– not likely.
So I eventually peeled back the strangers somewhat, just down to a community I did know. But even the one user who concealed his identity carefully started rambling on and on to me about his distaste for Google’s mantra of “Don’t Be Evil” and how religious it was, and how Linux was trying too hard to be like Windows, when I had explained to the group I had an interest in tech. I had to tell him I was a hobbyist and on disability benefits (both which are 100% true), and that he was talking to the wrong person, before I could get him to shut up.
Eventually I realized that most of the games were not far from the lab rat pressing the button to get the food pellet– and although many games could be described much the same– it did seem like endless grinding without much entertainment. So the games went, and eventually the community with it.
I thought I’d still keep up with school and churchmates. But many of them would loudly shout their opinions anyways– talk about much, much more than I ever wanted to know. I had to explain to one who was a dear friend that I had too much going on in my life to care whether the Tea Party was being represented fairly by the media. My father was suffering terribly and wanting to die just to end the agony at the time, and I don’t think I can put it any blunter than that.
So then it was just family and close friends. But I was growing very weary of Mark Zuckerberg’s shell game on privacy, gradually eroding everyone’s chances to hide. So I decided to delete my account, right out, although I knew that my data was still free to be mined over and over for capitalist purposes. I paused because I knew I would never hear from my cousins, ever again. They would just not be bothered.
And I was right. It went back to how it was before, with the wife (e.g., an in-law) of one of my cousins continuing to send me family pictures by e-mail. My cousin, her husband, is an FBI agent. I get the need for increased privacy. I get that he’s busy. But nothing is binding his hands from a quick “How are you?” e-mail. Oh, and the saddest thing I recalled was that my baby sister said she told her I was the only one responding to her (the cousin-in-law’s) e-mails. My sister is upset with them right now, because they were close to her for a while, and then dropped her like a hot rock– but that’s another story.
And so, dear reader, I take fungai neni’s post as yet another footnote in the creeping banality of modern life– how some people are becoming too busy with busy work and idle distractions to concentrate on the truly joyful and pleasant things in life. Some have pulled away just enough to protest, but the long term view remains to be seen.