Saturday, June 23, 2007

Losing face

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from my old friend Swazi, asking me to be her Facebook friend. Now, when The Guardian and Patroclus agree that FB is the social networking site to be on for hip thirtysomethings, it makes for a persuasive argument. But I said no.

It's not because I don't love Swazi, of course. It's simply because my inbox still gets peppered with entreaties from FriendsReunited, Friendster, Tickle and Hi5 (no, me neither - never hit the 'yes' button when drunk), not to mention stuff relating to LibraryThing and Twitter, all giving the illusion of a thriving social life in the guise of ones and zeroes. And that's without considering this blog. Were I to plunge into Facebook, MySpace, Second Life and Bebo as well, I think I'd need to take on a secretary to organise all the exciting things that aren't really happening to me. Turns out that the virtual me is just as much of an anti-social curmudgeon as the flesh version.

But it's more than that. I've also got this strange feeling that every time I sign up to one of these things, I'm offering up a part of me that I'll never get back. Like those tribesmen in Papua New Guinea who think being photographed takes away a chunk of your soul.

Never mind, eh? Record Collector used words like "impressive", "intriguing" and "occasionally alarming" in its review of Welcome to the Machine. Which is nice.

15 comments:

patroclus said...

Well done for staying away from Facebook.

Reading that Guardian article, I feel completely vindicated that I wrote in my dissertation that as soon as one social network gets clogged with advertising, everyone will flee to another one. I should be Rupert Murdoch's special advisor.

The real me wrote a snarky little article the other day about the irony of NO2ID having a group on Facebook. I've got the boy James to thank for the quip that the British government should rebrand the ID card scheme as a social network - because that way people would probably be only too happy to upload details of their salary, tax returns, blood group, DNA, etc. for everyone to see. It's the logical conclusion to this idiotic mania for publicness.

I'm already on some ridiculous thing called Dopplr (which is apparently where all the *really* - ahem - hip people currently are), where you're supposed to tell everyone where you're going and when, and what flight you're going to be on, etc. It's like an open invitation for people to come and burgle you. People are stupid.

bye bye bellulah said...

Some facebook groups make me laugh and the few people I 'talk' to on there remind me I'm not invisible or dead in the way that most fleshy people don't. I don't think there's anything on the internet that I've signed up to using my real name though.

My flatmate won't have his photo taken for exactly that reason and he's from Durham.

Charles Frith said...

Facebook is a little different. I'm all of them for my job and Facebook i the only one that has snagged me for some continual partial attention. If that sounds horrific. It is for some people. Hot Chocolate is known to help. As for Durham, that's practically a hex for celebrity so I wouldn't worry about that. I think someone from Big Brother made it there if that counts.

Now Dopplr is much more elite. But its for people who travel. Anyone in Edinburgh next week? ;)

dh said...

Very wise Tim. Ones talents are so easily dissipated these days.

Shane Richmond said...

Being photographed takes away part of your soul? Nah, if that were true then people who get photographed all the time, say fashion models or even politicians would be really...

Oh.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Help me please....

It's half one in the morning and I'm playing a stupid movie quiz on Facebook and feeling quite happy because somebody 'Superpoked' me!

Surely somebody knows how to stop this addictive 'FB' madness.

And the odd thing is, I spent most of this evening in meatspace with friends. So surely I don't need Facebook to feel better about myself?

Answers on a postcard...

Tim Footman said...

Patroclus, if you were Rupert Murdoch's special adviser, Alan Turing would be on Page 3 of The Sun. (He had the boobs, after all.)

Ah, the Durhamites, Bellulah. Are they the ones who worship a small photograph of Angus Deayton and don't wash on Tuesdays?

Doing it for work doesn't count, Charles. Although I like the idea of a site where media and marketing people go just to find out what the hip young consumers are thinking, but find only other media and marketing people. Like elderly paedophiles finding each other by pretending to be 12-year-olds...

Mine just disintegrate, dh. Before my eyes.

Now, Shane, how many pictures of models has your employer run in the last few months? (And I'm not going to start on the hot babes in skimpy tops celebrating their A-level results.)

Superpoke, 9/10? Is that like a multiple orgasm?

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Possibly. Although I'm guessing somewhat less satisfying.

Voice from the Village said...

Well done - I completely agree. People I don't really know at all trying to create some false connection, or use me as a marketing foil. (With some exceptions.) Except that I received an offer - well, a request, well, a.... - anyway - seeing as it came from my wife, I said yes. Dunno why, seeing as we do tend to see each other fairly often. So now I'm surfing away from the thin end of the wedge. Where will it all end?

Billy said...

I don't understand Facebook, but I have registered there under MY REAL NAME, so I will compare the experience to MySpace and see what happens.

Valerie said...

I'm far too interested in what people actually use these environments for and what about each one spurs what type of usage — it's the researcher in me. So after holding out for years, I'm foolishly putting myself out there again, losing all hope of privacy and causing myself to hit reload obsessively. I commend your restraint.

Tim Footman said...

Restraint or laziness? And is there a difference?

Murph said...

I think people only join Dopplr for Effect.
Whatever happened to Tea Dances?

Flirty Something said...

Ah crap, I've just got the hang of blogging and now there's a new face in town - bugger.

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