Facebook as Politics

The other day I was thinking about how Facebook is actively altering the way we interact with each other.  In thinking about it further, I’ve come to the realization that Facebook, in essence, has effectively turned us all into mini-politicians.

Indulge me for a moment…

When posting any personal information to Facebook, we each go through our own unique decision-making process, contemplating how we can best “position” ourselves, deciding what information we’ll ultimately choose to boast publicly to our circle of “friends”, and over-analyzing what that information has the potential to convey about ourselves as a brand — from what music you admit to listening to, to what your interests and activities consist of, and even going so far as to deciding to actually list specific items within those categories or opting to go the more witty route and say that you’re into random things like “hatching ideas for concept restaurants” or “putting the pagne in champagne”. [Sorry, Pete, I jest because I love.] :)

We each go through a vetting process of determining what photos we’ll choose to post / tag of ourselves — and what photos we’ll immediately un-tag after a debaucherous night on the town or, in some cases, what photos will eventually lead us to directly contact the owner of a questionable photo through a private message and kindly request that he promptly take down the photo because it portrays you in a compromising position, doing a particular thing that you don’t remember doing that the photo so vividly captured.  [Wait… what?]

When deciding whether or not to attend an event, we spend all of this extra energy in finding the most diplomatic excuses to relay to certain people as to why you were a no-show.  Now, if you say something like “Oh, I’m not feeling well tonight” or “it’s my grandma’s 87th birthday” yet there are other photos of you posted from that very same night, attending a completely different competing event, or there are several posts on your wall that read something to the effect of “Great seeing you last night — you were soooo wasted!!!”, whelp, game over, you have been caught.

We individually have our own criterion set for deciding who to friend and who not to friend — or de-friend, for that matter.  And how long is long enough before meeting someone for the first time, finding them on Facebook and requesting to be their friend?  Do the old school dating rules of waiting 2-3 days before calling someone apply to the new world rules of Facebook friendship?  What about hiding certain people’s status updates or activities from the home page news feed?  And Facebook allows you to create sub-friend lists that enable you to go so far as to restrict what the people on those granular lists have access to, from your photos, your personal info, to what’s posted on your wall, etc.

With all of this extra energy and focus spent on how we present ourselves to the external world and to our own social circles, I’d argue that it’s quickly turning us into a less honest society, where everyone is growing into superficial political cyborgs.  There’s more of an emphasis than ever before placed on your accomplishments, where you went on your last vacation, where you work, what new dress you’ve purchased — and don’t even dare wear the same thing twice to two separate events, what would that say about what you can afford or what your closet looks like?

All of this Facebook talk reminds me of the whole “15 minutes of fame” expression which refers to the fleeting condition of celebritydom that grabs an object of media attention, then passes on to some new object as soon as people’s attention spans are exhausted.

It was Andy Warhol who in 1968 made the statement: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Hmmm… so I guess I should be thanking Facebook for making fame a reality for the common person?  Yeah.  Don’t think so.


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