Sep 28, 2007

A Facebook Moment

Picture this. Five people standing around chatting outside a theatre after a show. It's all good fun, and the talk naturally turns to all things impro (the five all being directly or indirectly involved with the Brisbane impro scene).

One person brings up a recent exchange of impro-related messages on Facebook. Flurried remarks are exchanged between four out of the five people. The fifth - a Facebook luddite - stands silent, mystified.

Welcome to the Facebook Moment.

As regular readers of this blog may know, I don't have very many regular readers. I decided to join Facebook to try to drum up more traffic to this site, my "real" blog, the one true repository of my exuberant verbosity and charming tales of journalistic and general incompetence.

Of course, that hasn't really worked. The RSS feed of this blog onto my Facebook profile means if people care enough to read my wild ramblings, they can just click on that. But chances are they really don't care that much - a brief scan of my status update or latest poll question is enough for most people. I have, at last count, 123 "friends" on Facebook. I didn't realise I actually knew that many people. But that's the joy/tragedy of Facebook - no matter how tenuous the real-life connection (if one exists at all), you can be instant pals in cyberspace.

But a quirky side-effect for me is noticing the occasional blurring of lines between real-life and the Facebook world. On Facebook, you're you, but you're an uber version of yourself. You put up the content and pictures you're happy to show to the world. I should know - I put up travel photos because I'd like everyone to think I'm a fearless adventurer with a taste for the exotic. I've noticed many women put up their glamourous wedding photos, and I assume it's for the same reason.

The people on Facebook that you actually see, in real life, on a regular to semi-regular basis, know the truth. They know I'm a complete dag desperate for approval. But it's as if there's a conspiracy of silence - a "What happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook" rule. I believe this is a unspoken understanding - because chances are your friends are also complete dags desperate for approval and they won't tell if you don't.

Sometimes, though, this rule is forgotten, and you get a scene like the one described above, where something expressed on Facebook seeps into your real-life conversations. Hence, the Facebook Moment.

I've had a couple of people ask me in person, and without prompting, "So did you finally finish that writing?", merely in response to a status update of mine where I mentioned being close to finishing some writing. There's been a couple of other little incidents like that, just simple conversational canapes that give me a moment's confusion, before I turn to the person with a puzzled expression and the say the words "How did you....? Oh, yeah right, Facebook."

I wonder if we will see more and more of these Facebook Moments in our lives as the weeks and months and years pass. Will natural conversations evolve as they used to, or will we increasing rely on recent Facebook activities to inspire conversation and rapport?

And where will that leave people like the fifth person in the introductory example - people who remain steadfastly opposed to joining Facebook? I've known several people who've joined simply because they're "sick of being left out". Will everyone eventually fold before the terrifying prospect of online social exclusion and the subsequent fall-out on their actual social life?

Facebook fills me with many more questions, but they are deep, philosophical ones that strike at the very heart of what it means to be a friend, quantity versus quality, and the willingness of the current generation to seek identity through fame. That blog though, must be for another day. Right now, I have to go and check Facebook, to see if anyone, anyone at all, has read my writing.


  1. I am happy to say that I joined facebook during it's Australian infancy, when it was damn-near impossible to find any friend except for the ones living in England. But those zombies, pirates, jedi's and werewolves are really annoying.


  2. I haven't joined face book... It annoys me that they want me to join to simply view anyone's facebook profile.

    It got my goat up, and now I have to wait for that "goat" to go away before I can join.