The most fundamental aspect of Facebook is that people upload ‘faces’ so that ‘others’ can marvel at their ‘b(l)ooks’. Quite recently our Facebook feeds have evolved into “The Moving Book of Faces” or “That Animated book”, but these clips are very seldom of the people posting them. Rather, timelines are violently streaming America’s Funniest Home Videos, Scathing Liberal American Political Satire and Infographs. The most likely reason is that most people sound and appear as one dimensional, when they’re captured three dimensionally and broadcast in two dimensions, as they actually really are. The consensus however is that the average human being appears and looks exactly the opposite on video, to how they perceive themselves to appear. That is, like a drunk and high person with a speech impediment slowly morphing into a chocking chihuahua. One would think that in this age of overbearing image cataloguing we would spend more time actually practicing and assessing our animated behavior in these mirrors, finding a likeness that could match the frozen poses we so carefully cultivate. Let’s give it a bit more time. There’s a spunky weather girl in every man.
Once you’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures there are few of us who don’t check back to see who liked it, left a comment, or even, if your moments are that unique and polished off with filters that they could pass for straight to dvd posters, shared it with their friends.
For most of us, not everyone who is your ‘friend’ on Facebook are actually friends, even in the most liberal application of the term. Often this Facebook defined category includes people you met but once. Perhaps they are that certain someone you knew, haven’t seen in years, never really liked, but thought it rude to dismiss their request. You also wanted to see whether they are really unhappy and poor and the only way you could satisfy your curiosity was to befriend them. You forgot to unfriend them again but they really never seem to go on Facebook so what’s the harm, right? If you go and unfriend them you would have one less friend and that is one less friend than everybody else. We all know that ,”money makes you wealthy but friends make you rich".
The average number of friends my Facebook acquaintances collected is around 600. No matter how homogeneous and insulated your background had been, you’re bound to have quite a variety of people on who’s news feeds your pretty pics and insightful comments pop up. This audience often include work colleagues, family members and often those you can’t even recall ever meeting. Their profile pics looked somewhat alluring when they sent you a friend request so you somewhat hesitantly accepted, but it is either a yes or a no so there you go, friends. You endure their presence even if it means not hiding their posts yet always scrolling past it really quickly sighing a soft muttering mind grovel of “how dare you?”. Perhaps they’re not really people who post that much, so their presence as ‘friend’ who have permanent access to your complete historical collection of faces is effectively muted to the non-presence they have been, are and will be fulfilling in your life for the foreseeable future.
If we were actually able to see who viewed our pictures, how long they looked at them, how many times they clicked, enlarged and even downloaded them, we would go full moat with irate anacondas, archers in the towers on our profile privileges, allow access only to people we’ve heard fart and laughed about it together. We would also probably upload only the most formal of photoshoped ID pics which would simply confirm that the name on the profile and the face do in fact represent the same person. But why should we be concerned? We set our privacy settings back in 2010 so that ONLY FRIENDS can view our pics.
The fact is that you give every single person you allow access to your profile the right to look at any of your pictures as many times as they want, for as long as they want. We all most probably presume and effectively convince ourselves that the average acquaintance scrolls through the album you so carefully curated, to reveal the awe inspiring day you had at the salon, the exotic dish you prepared with canned artichokes and the slightly mischievous yet socially acceptable night you had out on the town, with a similar kindred spirit of appreciation that you tried to purvey through the collection. It is however not inconceivable that within the very solitary act of voyeurism, people will and are rightfully entitled by you to peruse your special moments to levels that could realistically eclipse the most unhealthy of sick obsessional infatuations.
Awareness of this and being fully aware that these are the conditions we agree to when creating and populating a social profile, we still charmingly ignore the type of interaction and purpose very possibly followed by the majority of our invisible friends. Here’s a simple yet disturbing analogy. These friends walk into your home library with your back turned and your ears stuffed, pull down their pants and start paging through all your albums, laughing, crying and bellowing out loud for no one to hear.
It is without a doubt our own insatiable narcissistic tendencies urging us to broadcast our lives to the world and have people confirm our existences by pushing the happy button that fuels this ignorant bliss. This selfish gene overrides the more sober sense of precaution that should be guiding us in asserting who we are and who we choose to share our life in pictures with.
So dear Facebook, let's bring that starving coyote of truth into the sheep pen. Let’s let him have his night of righteous slaughter in the pale light of our misconceptions of what the flock are actually grazing at.