Friday, January 2, 2009

The Cult of Facebook

“What do you mean you’re not on Facebook?”she said aggressively. I suddenly felt embarrassed.
“Isn’t that for kids?” I responded.
“KIDS,” She shouted loudly. For a moment I thought she was going to slap me. “Everyone is on it! You really need to sign up.” She pulled out her blackberry and said, “I’m sending you an invitation to join right now.” Little did she know my email was already cluttered with at least ten other “friend requests.”
Two weeks latter I still had not given in to the cult know as Facebook. Once again while having drinks with a friend the subject came up. “Denny I couldn’t find you on Facebook the other day, you’re on it… right?”
“Yes of coarse! You must have spelled my name wrong.” I lied. I now knew my time had come. I could escape it no more… I must join.
The following day while at work I decided to take five minutes while having my morning coffee to accept one of my many requests to join. It took me just that…five minutes and I was done…and like a drug I felt a slight high. I walked away from the computer and admitted what I had done to one of my co-workers. “I just joined Facebook,” I said with a trace of embarrassment in my tone.
“I’ll send you a friend request right now.” She said excitedly while pulling out her I-phone. “Now you just need to accept my request and we will be Facebook friends.” Word that I was now a member spread through the studio like wildfire. By the end of the afternoon I had seventeen friends. Turned out everyone I was working with that day was already a member. I felt I was now part of a secret society.
My obsession came on fast and furious. The next evening while home I entered what I like to think of as “phase one the addiction stage.” Frantically I began searching for new friends to add to my list. At first I was proud of my now twenty-two friends, but it didn’t take long before that pride turned to uneasiness. I realized most Facebookers had hundreds of “friends”…some even thousands! I began sending out emails to convince the uninfected - I mean non-members - they must join Facebook. “What do you mean you’re not on Facebook? You really need to join!” I would insist. I thought: I need more friends!
I began joining every application I was sent to download…Hug Me, Green Patch, Vampires, Good Karma, Peace Signs, Super Wall…the list goes on. Hatching eggs was one of my favorites. This application allowed me to send an egg to one of my friends. In a matter of days it would “hatch” on their page. I liked to send baby dinosaurs. My fairy application allowed me to cast spells on friends wishing them wealth or love. I named my fairy Betty.
“What are you doing right now?” This question is posed next to your photo. It’s how you can let all your friends know what you are doing at any given moment. Some people feel the need to let you know mundane moments of their life like, “I’m about to brush my teeth” or “I’m so full.” Those I can do without. But then there are the others who make you laugh by saying things like “I just looked at my knees and thought What the F__CK?” I tried to use my “message time” by helping feed information about the election.
“Phase two the rebellion stage” came pretty quickly… for me. I find with some it can be a mere matter of hours, for others possibly months…or even years. It was about three weeks into my membership, or as I like to call it “my rebirth” that I questioning my time with Facebook. It began the day I contemplated including it on my blackberry. “Do I really need to do this?” I thought. Isn’t it enough that I obsessively check my four email address daily? “Do I really need the diversion of checking Facebook as well?” My answer was YES!
I sat by my desk and began the Facebook/Blackberry union. Suddenly the ball of my Black Berry Pearl wouldn’t move. I raced out the door into my car and on my way to the nearest AT&T store. I was leaving the next day for a two-week job. I simply must have it fixed. While speeding to the store I ran over a rabbit. My heart fell to my stomach. I had kept a home in the country for years, but this was the first animal I killed. I blamed Facebook.
While away on my job I didn’t check Facebook . It was as if we had a fight and decided to see less of each other. When Facebook came up in conversations - as it usually would - I began saying. “We are on a break.” Or “I’ve been too busy to check in.” But secretly I was still logging on. I began having a love/hate relationship with it. I was ashamed over the time we spent together, but missed it when I did not check in.
“Phase three the control phase” hit me about month four.” I no longer spent my time searching for gold coins to buy fairy dust, tending peoples Green Gardens or sending out hatching eggs of Britney Spear’s shaved head. I now read it like I pursue the morning paper. I had become a “social facebooker.” Much like a social drinker or smoker. I was able to now keep my habit in check. Facebook has become a way to keep up with friends I may otherwise never speak to. It allows an unexpected hello from someone in my past. It even reminds me of friend’s birthdays. My addiction has faded. But yet when I meet someone who is not a member I still say the standard, “What do you mean you’re not on Facebook?” as if they just landed from another planet.

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