It is not only your best friend; Facebook is also a canvas for you to paint your self-portrait on, to create a brightly-coloured fun version of yourself for public consumption. Others are allowed to daub carefully-selected facets of your personality with binary brush strokes – touch you up, restore you when you fade, make you brighter when you’re needy. A ‘Like’ becomes a backslap from an absent father, a ‘Share’ is a love letter from your a former beau, a ‘Status Comment’ is a loved one communicating from beyond the grave, telling you that everything is going to be okay. It becomes significant, replacing normal interaction, and this being acknowledged becomes an addiction.
It has resulted in the increasing prevalent trend of exchanging ‘Likes’ for ridiculous actions via photographs. You’ve all seen them, right? It is just like going to a site that sells facebook fans or likes and just twitter followers “If 100,000 people like this I’ll dangle my testicles in a shoebox of scorpions.” From my experience, the protagonists are primarily young males that look Australian or like they shop exclusively in New Look. The process is simple: they get their mate/mum to take a picture of them (or take a selfie) holding up a piece of A4 paper with a primary school dare written out in crayon and a set number of ‘Likes’. They then wait for the Shares to lead to Likes to lead to some sort of widespread recognition and validation of their existence. Everyone craves a cyber nod, someone to notice them in a world where they are anonymous, insignificant.
The one that inspired this rant was this: “If this (picture) gets 10,000 likes before my birthday, I will walk naked to the Co-Op and buy a cucumber and some lube. Bring it on.” What a jape, what a ruse, what witty wordsmithery. Perhaps, this is an example of a glorious cyber twist on British eccentricity; a new mode of wackiness for the digital age, and deserves to be celebrated; maybe, just maybe, it’s the beginning of the end of all things.
It could just as well have read – “Give me attention because I need it.” But the problem is not in the photograph and its subject alone, it’s that there are more idiots out there sharing the damn photos, pandering to the idiot. It’s like monkeys flinging shit in a cage, and then yet more monkeys scooping up the shit and flinging it some more. The post had over a 100,000 likes when I last checked. Now what? Not as in “Did he do it?” but what does this mean about the state of the world.
For every shared picture of this kind that sullies my newsfeed, from some half-friend acquired in fruitless networking attempts or a school acquaintance that I’m only friends with because they make me feel good about my sorry predicament, another legion of idiots is spawned. We social-networking types are encouraging them to continue, like turning up the heat on a deadly bacteria in a petri dish. It must stop.
A part of me still wants to believe that Facebook can be used as an important social tool, where messages can be circulated globally and affect change, to banish some of the injustice still rife in the world. But screw it, if this piece gets 500 likes, I’m going to fart in a mug and drink it, hahahahahahahaha, like me. Like. Me. Like.