Facebook ruined my life

Facebook turns five this week. Linsey Fryatt reflects on how the social networking site has changed the way we interact – for better and worse.

 

It’s facebook’s fifth birthday this week. And while I love every status-updating, picture-tagging, friend-stalking pixel of it, I often wish it had never been invented.

Its obvious time-thievery and propensity to turn me into an obsessive page refresher, jonesing for my next next notification fix aside, I find Facey-B was the first step in a downward spiral (if spirals can have steps) to my entire life being played out online in some form or other. And I’m exhausted.

“The Facebook” was started by Mark Zukerberg on Feb 4 2004 while he was a student at Harvard University. Initially it was a way for the Ivy League students to easily network and identify each other. In half a decade this pet project has grown to over 150 million members and an estimated value of $5billion.

What’s great about facebook is that unlike email, it creates a little online village of your friends – conversations are no longer singular, but circular, drawing everyone into the mix. When I recently asked what my middle name should be, I received answers from the US, France and Scotland, varying from “Sigourney” to “Riot” to “Dimmer Switch”.

What’s also great in a deliciously shallow sense is that it lets you act as your own personal PR agency. Careful selection of status updates, images and daily actions mean that “Brand Fryatt” is far more interesting, funny and having much more fun than the actual me.

But that’s also why it sucks. I find myself poring over my mates’ albums of them teaching in Thailand, skiing in the Alps, partying in Shoreditch, and wonder where my life went wrong, why their friends look more fun than mine, and why I’m still up at 2am on a Wednesday.

And please, can my friends with babies just STOP putting their progeny as their profile pictures? It may have your DNA, but it’s not you. And that goes twice for ultrasound images.

Facey-B has also affected the way I act in the “real world” too. Going to a gig, meeting your mates down the pub, going on holiday – all are at some level Facebook events in my head before they’ve even begun – I start envisioning the Facebook presence before I’ve had my second pint.

Like when digicams hit the mainstream, the event itself turns into an exercise in projecting a good time just as much as having a good time. Note the lack of snaps of people crying in toilets because their boyfriend’s dumped them. Maybe there should be a Miserybook.

facebook-sad2

(Graphic courtesy of stuff.tv)

But what stings the most in my love/hate relationship with FB is that it’s only the first step. It’s merely the first stitches in a tapestry of multi-layered communication that could literally end up being my life’s work.

I can send geotagged snaps to Flickr and let Geo Photo stick them in Google Earth, Twittytunes will send a Twitter feed of everything I’m listening to using my Foxytunes browser add-on, I can share my Netflix list with my friends – and Friend Feed will aggregate all this information so that every minutae of my life can become its own mini documentary. And not a very interesting one at that.

But I’m painting a pretty dark picture here – when at their best, these new tools for communication, networking and citizen reporting give the world an amazing (and amazingly democratic) way to keep connected. But happy-clappy webtopia aside, the 55 unread Tweets I’ve received since I’ve been writing this has sent me into a state of utter hypertension.

That’s it – I’m off to change my status to “Linsey is having a lie down”…

— Linsey Fryatt is editor of stuff.tv. The views expressed are her own. –

COMMENTS   7

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I think Facebook is fantastic, it has enabled me to keep in touch with people I last spoke with some 20 years ago.
I don’t spend a lot of time on it, the occasional catch up on what everyone is doing happens maybe twice a month.
If you let it ruin your life, thats your problem. Please don’t blame it on the tool!

What makes facebook bad is not that the information is available, but that you just have to look at it all. If it’s depressing to see how happy your friends are, why do you have to look? Seems you have a bigger problem with internet addiction than facebook.

That have no “real” life to happy about. Who cares what Santi and Jannie did last week on the slopes of Aspen ? What does it actually contribute to your life ? Nothing really – maybe if you have a shallow life, it will. (In my humble opinion of course).

… you wouldn’t need Facebook. Best to just turn the pesky thing off.

Facebook is a great and cheap way to stay in touch with freinds but a new site called http://www.thetrumplist.com should really get career orientated people talking.

Next big thing?

My name is Linsey and I’m a facebook addict . . .

There’s probably a group for you, Linsey. Also, I hope you’re a freelancer cos when your boss reads this he may just want the 100 cents in the Rand you owe him for what he pays you every month.

…. try a little self discipline girl. It is intended to keep people in touch: NOT to replace normal social behavior. If you feel jealous when your friends are having a bit of fun and sharing it, and if you deny them the pleasure of proudly flaunting their babies’ pictures instead of their own, then maybe you are not much of a friend to them anyway.

Sorry about the harsh words, but you need to get down to some serious introspection.

End of comments.

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