Posts Tagged ‘ facebook ’

I AM UNARMED!

As of writing, my most recent status update on Facebook is;

three way handshakes make me cry

This is a reference to the three way handshake in terms of TCP, the method that two computers use to predetermine the parameters of a network connection before attempting to communicate. I was reading something about it that I didn’t understand entirely. I read the same paragraph over and over again, maybe seven or eight times, and it was failing to sink into my head. So, I decided to broadcast my annoyance with this paragraph via my Facebook status update thing.

Half an hour later and a friend of mine read my comment and left me a message talking about physical handshakes, discussing them in their various forms and styles. After I told him that I wasn’t really talking about actual handshakes i started thinking about them and how ridiculous they are.

Here’s my reply to my friend’s handshake musings;

I often don’t know what kind of a handshake I should be giving. Like you said, a firm handshake denotes an egotistical streak whereas a limp handshake (or a wristflop as I like to call it) is a sign of weakness. Personally I don’t tend to judge someone based on their handshake. I can usually tell what someone is like by their presentation as a whole and the way they greet me.

But this puts me in an awkward position in which I don’t quite know the point at which a handshake becomes too firm or too limp. I don’t want to portray myself as an egotistical arse, nor do I want to appear timid. Quietly confident is what I’m looking for.

Also, how many times do you shake? Do you go up and then down? Once? Twice? I’ve even had some people shake my hand in a kind of circular motion; moving their hand up and away from themselves and then down and back again. It was bizarre and unsettling.

Some people tend to just grab and squeeze; a handshake I am loathed to participate in. Grab and squeeze my hand and I will tear into you at each and every opportunity. Make an idiot comment, try to impress everyone else or laugh too loud and I’ll point out your errors and make you look like an idiot because you deserve to be knocked down a few pegs because your handshake told me instantly that you’re an utter cunt.

The handshake is just one of the millions of cultural formalities that fills me with fear and trepidation. I wish it didn’t exist. A simple, polite “hello” should be sufficient enough, but apparently it isn’t. People feel the need to grab hold of my appendages and squeeze until my knuckles crack.

People are silly.

Damn, that’s a long reply for Facebook.

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Success

I found myself looking through the profiles and friends lists of some people I used to go to school with on Facebook. At first it was curiosity that lead me to scroll through hundreds of people in various friends lists, hunting for people I recognised or used to be friends with before I left school. I found out a couple of things. First, that I didn’t really know any girls in my school. I remember lots of names and a few faces, but I don’t really remember knowing any of them. I didn’t really talk to any of them, mingle with them or really make friends with any of them. I don’t know precisely why this is, but I think it was because I was aware at even a very young age of how very little I had in common with any of them. I liked rugby, cricket, hockey and shooting. As far as I was concerned, girls liked netball and that was it (ignorance as opposed to sexism).

Second, I realised that I was quite reserved throughout school, especially in the early years of secondary school. I don’t think I started to fit in until much later on, maybe fourth or fifth form and even then I only had a few close friends. I often found myself confused or scared of other people in school; I was never very tough or imposing, cool or exciting and as such I never really had many friends. I was clever, though. I often scored highly in tests, participated in class with knowledgeable answers and explained things to other people sat about me in class. However, I did disrupt classes quite often. I’d been diagnosed as having ADHD the year before starting secondary school and my parents and teachers put my disruptive, erratic and (as Mr. Phipps, my IT master put it) eccentric behaviour down to my disability and recommended my dose of Ritalin be increased. Thankfully my school masters weren’t my doctors.

But as I looked at more and more profiles I started to realise something else. I kept seeing the words ‘Oxford’, ‘Cambridge’, ‘Kings’ and ‘Goldsmiths’ over and over again. I also started seeing ‘Postgraduate’ every so often and on two occasions I saw the acronym ‘PhD’. I saw people with wives and children and photographs of people I haven’t seen since age 13 in places I can only dream of visiting.

I started to feel quite rubbish. The more I looked the more I realised how little I’ve accomplished. I started to go through all the choices I’ve made in the past seven or so years, trying to find out which decision was the one where everything changed, that pivotal moment in my life. I started thinking about what I could have done and how it could have been different. I started thinking about the things I could be doing and all the things I would have done by now. The more I looked the worse it got. Name after name after name popped up on my screen and each one seemed to bury its way into my skull, pulling and tugging on the part of my brain that makes me think I’m quite shit.

So I closed the browser window and stared at the screen of my laptop for a bit, thinking about what I’d just put myself through when my smallest cat jumped up onto the sofa next to me and started nuzzling into the side of my right leg. It was at that point that I instantly dismissed what just happened as one of those ridiculous episodes we all go through every once in a while. I don’t have time to waste thinking about what could have been; about universities I could have gone to or places I could have seen. I started thinking about all the great times I’ve actually had, and while they may not be particularly exotic or prestigious, they have still been great. I started thinking about all the wonderful people I’ve met and the things I have done as opposed to the things I haven’t. I realised that I don’t regret the majority of choices I’ve made over the last seven years. Sure there are some things I’d do differently if I could go back, but those are the things I’ve learned from and we all have those at some point. I’m certain of that.

Maybe she knew I was having an episode and she wanted to make me feel better. She put this whole scenario into perspective. She made me feel good about myself.

I don’t know how she did it, but Miko sure is clever.

A book of faces you say?

Yeah.  That.

Yeah. That.

I got rid of my facebook account recently.  Committing social-network suicide wasn’t so hard, merely a case of logging onto my account via my phone’s browser, heading to the relevant page and hitting the appropriate button.  I didn’t need to brace myself, nor am I having intense withdrawal symptoms from being without the big blue leviathan.

I joined facebook less than a year ago with the same idea as every other hapless individual; meet / get friends, talk to friends, hear what they have to say and have some fun in the process.  I’m no stranger to social networking and I quickly grew fond of facebook.  I enjoyed its subtle shades of blue, its clean lines and its neat, well thought out site plan.  It looked great and was a joy to use; far superior to Myspace, Orkut, Bebo or Friendster – sites that I grew infuriated with and ended up cancelling my account or abandoning early on.  I continued the seemingly endless task of finding people to befriend and adding them to the ever expanding list of people I knew in one way or another.  The rate at which I checked my profile increased steadily and at the height of my usage I even wrote a small script for my mobile phone to refresh my facebook’s home screen once a minute so I didn’t have to do it manually.

Ridiculous.

The more I used facebook, the more I realised what was going on.  The time i spent sending emails or holding conversations on peoples’ walls could have actually been spent with the person in real life (which I shall call RL from now on).  It could have easily been a quick phone call to catch up or even a meeting for lunch, anything other than what it was – a faceless meeting of text and impersonal, often forced, chit-chat.  I think back to the times where I would spend a good hour or two trawling through photographs of friends, then the photographs of their friends and so on until it got to the point where I was looking at photographs of people I didn’t even know doing things with more people I didn’t know.  Instead of giving people up to the minute updates on what I was doing or posting links to people who didn’t even care I could have spent the time emailing my friends in RL and arranging real meetings and having real conversation.

Toward the end of my relationship my wall steadily became a place where people exchanged bitchy or snide comments.  The groups I’d joined previously bared no meaning on anything in my life – mindless free-for-all forums where anyone could and often did say whatever they wanted, their mindless, poorly thought out and badly worded opinion bandied about the Internet like a cheap whore.  Of the 85 or so people in my friends list, I could only name around 10 to 15 people who I could honestly say I spoke to on a regular basis.  The endless stream of information on the home page just disintegrated into a place for people to bitch and moan at each other about all their differences.  Friends of mine would snipe at one another through their status updates and their friends would join in and their friends would join in and so on and so on until the endless clusterfuck of human society and modern civilisation had well and truly raped its way through the nooks, crannies and crevices of the Internet onto my screen.

I do not want a representation of the thing I despise so viciously splayed across my monitor.

Facebook is caustic.  It is faceless and by its very design is crafted to lull the user into a pit where an almost permanent connection to your ‘friends’ is required.  The need for streamed information is all well and good, but facebook latches onto the addict in all of us, with some even going so far as to use it as a means to organise or at least publish their entire lives.  Facebook relieves the user of face-to-face interaction to the point where people feel more comfortable behind their monitor or above their mobile phone, poking away at their ‘friends’.  This ‘grooming’ of the user  has become yet another one of the millions of influences that drives people in subway cars to avoid eye-contact at all costs.  It soothes the facebooker with its subtle blue tones, clean lines and squircles, making you feel safe and like you’re taking part in something that just feels natural and oh-so-easy.

I understand that I have a somewhat addictive personality and people who know me well would tell you that I pick up things and cling to them rather easily, but I don’t think this is entirely my fault.  At the beginning I found it rather hard to be left out of something so popular.  The need to follow the crowd is a strong one in a society so driven by the media and a constant message that there’s nothing more important than being #1.  I would imagine that if all the people were taken and lined up in rank of coolness, the guy (or girl) at #1 would almost certainly have an active facebook account.  When someone asked me if I had a facebook page within 10 minutes of knowing me, I pretty much realised on the spot that this is something that’s not going to go away.  It’s normal, much like having a mobile phone or an iPod, but this makes me wonder what life after facebook is going to be like.

One final thought.  A friend of mine once said;

For every friend you have on facebook, that’s minus one friend in real life.  You have 86 friends.  That means you have negative 86 friends.  Your life sucks.