Sunday, 15 August 2010

Facebook | Wider Reading | Narratives

Facebook is already far too large to be described by a single narrative although The Social Network looks like it will certainly give it a good stab. Personally though, the story of a load of Harvard D-Bags getting rich through computer-geekery is not the story that I like to take away from facebook.

The thing that fascinates all of us about facebook is the fact that it is an on-going drama comprised of millions of sub-plots. Otherwise private existences which regularly spill out into the public domain in the time it takes to press ‘paste’.

Jobs are lost, relationships are ruined, hearts are broken and confidences are shaken daily on this internet phenomenon, yet it has the power to do such good as well. It means I can see what my best mate it up to in Brazil at the moment. It makes me feel less cut off from my old flatmate in Sweden. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling when a red box pops up to say ‘Todd Swift likes your status’.

To this end, I have been doing a cursory trawl through the annuls of facebook anecdotes to bring you a selection, good and bad, of ways that this seemingly ephemeral cultural icon has changed lives.

1. Safety

“We had an incident at school in early August 2010 when a student came into my high school armed with a Samurai sword. This lead to the school going into a lock down which involved all staff locking classroom doors and hiding under desks. We used FaceBook to keep in touch with what was going on and we all collaborated what info we had to get a full story on what was going on. We were able to keep calm because of this.”

2. Professionalism

“In October last year, Virgin Atlantic sacked 13 cabin crew after they branded passengers "chavs" and criticised the airline's safety standards on Facebook.
The company said the employees' behaviour was "totally inappropriate" and "brought the company into disrepute".

It is understood the messages were posted by members of a group created on Facebook, which has now been removed, about planes flying from Gatwick.
They alleged that the planes were full of cockroaches and that the airline's jet engines were replaced four times in one year.”

3. Busted

4. Vulnerable

“Have I experiences anything similar on the 'Book?
Let's get a shortlist of statuses that are depressing/annoying just from today.

-Takashi N- "Why is a woman so addictive?"

-Nick B- "Feels shitty"

-Evan B- "The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone."

-Brendan V- "Brendan V-/I'm unforgettable/Daisy dukes/Bikinis on top/Sunkissed skin/So hot/Will melt your popsicle/Ohh oh ohhh"

-Chelsea W- "irobot: nothing like a black man saving the world :)"

-Mika M- "will hopefully never regret anything"

-Alissa M- "365 days (heart graphic) i love you Jordan A- =)"

-Nick B- "My life is officially ruined :(" (Yes, same as the Nick B- near the top. He's only going into Junior year, so... yeah.)

-Sogol G- "I GOT A MAC!!!:)" (Sent from Facebook for BlackBerry)

-Taylor H- "Why do I end up alone at the penn center? Oh yeah. Cause it's pv"

-Chealsea W- "Really bored. Again."

-Erica V- "needs a name for her new itouch (her ipod was named Alfred). Suggestions?"

-Leah H- "did anyone else feel that?" (I will explain in a moment)

-Miles C- "Needs somebody"

-Dylan P- "just read a chapter of Hannity's book, and proceeded to LMAO"

I'm stopping right there to explain why I hate these statuses. The fall into one of categories:

-Whining about love life or life in general

-Stupid song lyrics

-Inane shit no one cares a bit about (the mac and itouch comments)

-Uninformed view on a classic novel (I, Robot sticks out. I don't think the protagonist in the book was a man at all.)

-Whining about boredom


-Ragging on a topic you don't agree with simply because you oppose it with no consideration
It's really sad. Facebook is a competition of "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME". The ony time I post comments is general questioning (How many laps around the school track is a mile?)”

5. Health

6. Literary Debate

7. Pro-Life / Pro-Choice Discussions

8. Acquittal

“Pass the syrup -- this lucky guy is eating breakfast at home instead of on Rikers Island.

A Brooklyn teen's playful Facebook message to his pregnant girlfriend about pancakes sprung him from jail and helped him avoid years in prison for a holdup he didn't commit.

Prosecutors dropped a robbery charge against Rodney Bradford, 19, after learning his Facebook account status had been updated with the inside joke "WHERE MY IHOP?" from a computer in his dad's Harlem apartment one minute before an Oct. 17 stickup of two men in Brooklyn's Farragut Houses.”

9. Family Reunion

Facebook reunites mother and long-lost son
Lori Haas says that when she recognized her son's photo on the website, 'her heart went crazy'

Linda Nguyen, Vancouver Sun
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2007
Lori Haas never thought the journey to find the baby boy she gave up in a closed adoption 20 years ago would end on Facebook.

The closed adoption meant all the relevant documents were sealed, and Haas spent a decade waiting to get her son's name through an active registry, where the names of birth parents and adopted children are revealed at both of their requests.

When she got the name but no other identifying information, the 37-year-old nurse tried Google searches to see if anything would come up. It wasn't until June 24 that a friend suggested she try typing her son's name into the popular social networking website.

10. Sibling Rivalry
(click image to enlarge)

Reading these stories it seems that we have gone one step further than Orwell’s vision… we are all Big Brother in one sense or another. Be afraid.

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