Now the most ubiquitous and socially acceptable form of internet voyeurism, I find myself, amongst the millions of others, scrolling through the news feeds of Facebook. There are the usual posts which range from pithy social commentary “Political Candidate X is a real D Bag!” to the mundane “my new shampoo makes my hair smell like rainforest and butterfly farts!” Then there are the fortune cookie lines of wisdom regurgitated by the lonely and depressed.
There are the TMI posts you can’t help but read way too much into, like how your obese woman friend tries to publicly justify her attraction to burly, ill-mannered, blue-collar “Man-Beasts.” You think to yourself, “Yeah because, sadly, this is the only type of man her manatee-like figure will attract.” It really doesn’t help matters either that she then posts a three-paragraph love story about the three pans of lasagna she just devoured.
And occasionally there will be the refreshing, heart-warming post that renews your faith in humanity and relationships, or at least I thought: an acquaintance (most FB friends are, aren’t they?) who posted lovely photos of her and her husband renewing their vows, followed by hundreds of comments about “what a wonderful couple you are”, “congratulations”, “you look so in love!”… blah, blah, add nausea.
But that’s what Facebook does right? It keeps you in the social loop. Or does it? For, just recently, I found through the traditional grapevine that this happy couple is now officially separated, a fact not updated on Facebook. Which leads me to think a more appropriate name would be Fakebook. I say this for two reasons. Firstly, with some exceptions, FB posts are basically first date-style self-promotion; a glossy, filtered, edited version of the person you are too undisciplined to be yourself. Secondly, and more importantly you are not the customer with FB, you are the product. So, if most things on Facebook are embellishments or straight out lies, then this is a crushing defeat for not only all the FB stalkers, you know who you are! – But for the would-be consumers of your publicly displayed social construct.
We love to take the low road. We know it’s immature and counterproductive to look at photos of our exes and hopefully find fat photos and ten dirty kids running around a trailer park, and relish in it. And if they are accomplished Yuppies, study their faces for Botox and cheek implants. But Fakebook is tricky, because while that may be the reality for some people, they will most likely only post photos of their kids smiling and vacation photo ops, all the while people will never know the father is a raging alcoholic and that vacation was three years ago. And I still can’t stop thinking about my ex’s new girlfriend. How can she be blonde but look Asian? Is it a facelift? Botox? And his face looks a little stretched too. Are they going to the same plastic surgeon?
Fakebook or not, I realized that nothing good can come of such a social network of false reality. Although, I understand why people embellish their mundane and miserable lives. Fakebook offers a platform for people to create their fantasy life with a little downloading and a few clicks of a mouse. Their marriage may be falling apart and their kids may hate them, but in the land of Fakebook they will always be dad of the year and the perfect happy couple hiking in the Sierras.