When a friend sent me an emailed request to join Facebook, I figured I could click accept just to be polite, and never have to think about it again. The problem is, I was operating under the assumption that Facebook is a computer program. Not a disease.
Not only does the Facebook virus fester and thrive in warm, moist conditions, but it also grows under ignorant conditions. As in, carriers like me who innocently think they can just press, “accept,” and then ignore it. Suddenly I was getting notifications from everybody who had ever e-mailed me that is also on Facebook, and an automatic e-mail from everybody on the northern hemisphere of the Earth who has a Facebook account and lives within 200 kilometers of me.
I had been infected.
Sure, the idea of a website holding that kind of power may seem kind of ridiculous. Just like how it would be hard to take the Geico lizard seriously if he held a gun on you and demanded your wallet in his cute wittle Australian accent. But that’s the real danger: underestimating the virus.
Facebook can result in a continuation of the inescapable highschool social system that means you get to be a nerd even in a virtual world.
On Facebook, there’s a Wall. And not the drywall kind. It’s the sinister instant-messaging kind, where people can see how many friends you have and what virtual gifts you’ve received. In other words, people have found a way to create a virtual high school. And like high school, there’s an intricate hierarchy.
The Facebook hierarchy is all about who can collect the most friends. It’s sort of like a stamp collection, but less nerdy. And just like some stamps get more bragging rights (like if it’s a rare misprint that has Queen Victoria’s nose pointed to the left instead of the right, with her pointer finger jammed up deep), some friends mean more bragging rights.
It’s a virtual school without any of the good parts, like biology or snow days. And it’s a high school that you can’t make go by faster by staring at the clock and jedi-mind pushing the hour hand to 3:00.
Worst of all, it encourages people to speak of themselves in the third person as they make announcements about themselves that would be annoying enough in the first person. Like, “Vicky is delighted about her new coffee grinder.” Similarly, it also encourages cutesy spelling. It’s bad enough when people spell, “I,” like, “i.” But since it saves time to spell it like that, at least there’s a purpose. Well, if you squint your eyes, tilt your head and chant, “There’s a purpose,” over and over again, there’s a purpose.
I’m not sure how the creators of Facebook managed to convince everybody that sending someone a little picture of a candy cane is worth actual money. Since I turned 12 and entered the “I am aware of and care about my teeth” stage, I haven’t wanted to eat real candy canes. But virtual ones? Sure, they don’t give you cavities. But they also don’t do much of anything else. Except, of course, cost real money.
Mind you, virtual social clubs are kinda like that rule, the one about “i before e except after c.” Everything’s perfect until “neighbour” or “rottweiler” come along. My point being, after someone sent me a link to Will Buck’s MySpace, I realized there is at least one exception. Will is a music major in the States- a composer and writer- with samples of his work on the site. But like I already said, he’s the exception. So we’ll ignore him.
As far as the Facebook invitation went, I had a dilemma. A dilemma worse than if my Xbox and Wii simultaneously fell from an unstable cliff edge, I dove and caught each of their hands, and then I realized I only had the strength to save one: I could either escape the black hole of Facebook, which has a gravitational pull with a strength 10 times the magnitude of the Sun, or just remain a member. Which would mean letting the friend who sent me the request see that I only had one friend on my Wall. As in, just her.
Acting quickly, I had two options to choose from. I could either track down the Facebook creature in its underground layer, stab it through the heart with a garlic-coated silver stake, sprinkle some holy water over its body, and then turn my back and slowly walk away, hoping it was dead.
Or there was the second option, the method I ended up using. As in, hitting the “deactivate account” button over and over again, panicking when nothing happened except for an eerie, evil laugh, pressing every button at once and then closing the laptop and running in small circles.