I can’t say exactly which came first: the desire to test my unofficial hypothesis or the mania caused by my 289 class to fit everything, including fb, into a framework. All I know is what my Internet log tells me—I have doubled, sometimes even tripled, the frequency and duration of my Internet use, specifically logging into one site: fb. Not that I don’t have a life, but it seems that lately, it’s my life which I have been unsuspectingly working around fb.
Here’s what happened, anyway. My hypothesis was—and still is—that fb is addictive, because it’s a venue for validation in every sense of the word: to confirm if something was true, to declare an official statement, to make something officially acceptable.
My friend and neighbor Becky told me about her friend who happens to be a social researcher. She said that her friend used her skills on something which she herself (the friend, not Becky) could actually benefit from: she searched her ex’s current girlfriend to find out how long they’ve been together, suspecting that the ex cheated on Becky’s friend while they were still together. I’m citing this only as an example, but in case you were wondering, he didn’t. Thank God!
Not long ago, I had asked Grich if she thinks we would still be on fb by the time we’re, say, 50. “Maybe. But what would we be posting then? Scanned images of our graduate certificates?” She replied with a laugh. I got what she meant, so I teased her back with, “Maybe pictures to show how good a catch our son or daughter would be marrying.” After all, these are what usually make mamas proud, right?
Also, there are a variety of people I don’t personally know but whose loud conversations in the train have made me a reluctant-only-at-first eavesdropper. They were talking about going somewhere really cool with people, who, in their opinion, are equally cool. They said to take pictures of themselves and go on a tagging spree on fb to cause someone they all know (but don’t particularly like) to feel “they’re cool by association, and I’m not.” Their words, not mine.
So my hypothesis makes sense, I thought and left it at that. If people care that much about themselves, especially using online social networks, then, I wanted to make sure that they get credit for who they really are.
Whenever I Compare friends, I hit “skip” each time one friend I know very, very well is matched against someone I don’t know that much. Who am I to judge whether my friend is smarter than my acquaintance? What do I really know about my college roommate being more likely to be successful than my high school classmate? Things change through the years, and besides, who defines “success”? Or how do I perceive a person’s “happiness”? By his/her job, the relationship he/she has, the family he/she is raising? I’ve made sure to poke back the person who poked me, especially if he/she did not just Mass Superpoke. This person took his/her time, even if only out of boredom, to buy me a margarita and taser Ged. Also, I’ve learned to save my comments for people who welcome them. Enough said. In the end, changing my settings and walking on eggshells not to flood the News Feed, I realized that I had tested my fb hypothesis on myself. While I was, in a way, validating people, I was also validating myself—as someone who doesn’t want to offend and be judgmental of people.
If you’re still with me, reading up to this paragraph, then I would take consolation in the possibility that I’m not alone in my fb addiction. Indeed, I’m not. Des called me one night, and we spent more than an hour on the phone, talking about fb and stopping only when she got to the train station. We talked about being reunited with old friends (Aw, Y and Z ended up together pala), finding new ones (W is so talented, you should see his cartoons minsan), and losing some—at least online (V deleted her fb account all of a sudden, why kaya?). I told her that I’ve been reading everything I could find on Mark Zuckerberg—his Harvard issues, ethical and intellectual property violations—because you can only find the answer to a question about something when you know who the creator is and how he thinks.
In the meantime, I set my phone to ring exactly 30 minutes after I log into fb, and when it does, I log out immediately. It’s been working beautifully so far.