Monday, May 3, 2010

From Rorschach to Facebook

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who care about Farmville and people who don’t give a crap about Farmville. If you don’t know what I am talking about, allow me to clarify. Farmville is a Facebook game. If you are not familiar with Facebook, well, I can’t really help you and I’m surprised you have an iPhone. I have mocked Farmville here before, partly because I don’t really get it, and partly because I am sick of seeing the strangely desperate pleas for farm supplies in my News Feed. “Clara needs 3 bricks to finish her nursery in Farmville!” “Tom sold his cow in Farmville!” “Laine’s new Farmville puppy is hungry! Please help!” I don’t know where these people get the bricks or the cows or the food, and I don’t care. I do know that Farmville is a game. I refuse to learn any more. I mean, adults with virtual puppies – hungry virtual puppies? It’s creepy, people. And stop asking me for hay bales. I don’t have any.

It’s a little funny, I admit, that I so disparage the Farmies (that's right, Farmies) given how much time I spend on Facebook. This is the second column about it. It’s that big a part of my life. I am what you might call a "frequent status updater." And I never bother to sign out. And I post photos of everything, from what I cooked for dinner tonight to the length of the security line I’m waiting in at the airport. I’m that Facebook friend. This morning, when I had the archetypal problem of trying desperately to formulate a status update when really I had nothing to say, it occurred to me that my Facebooking is a valid personality test. My posting behaviors reveal important things about me –  things that I embrace and things that I deny. And if you use Facebook (or, as they say, if you “have a Facebook”), this is probably true of you, too.  I’m not going to tell you the things it says about me; I’m horrified enough to discover how clearly I am revealed by my posting. Rather, I would like to tell you a few things I might know about you from your Facebook:

You like sappy movies. If you regularly post links to YouTube videos of animals, babies, or anyone performing an acoustic ballad, then you liked “The Notebook.” Or at least you would.

Your partner or spouse doesn’t pay enough attention to you. If you post gratuitous photos of yourself in formal clothing or take a new profile pic every week with your webcam, it might be time to see other people.

You talk too much when you’re drunk. If your relationship status is “It’s complicated,” you have a lot of stuff you’d like to talk about, but you usually wait until you are drunk to do it. And then you go home and call your ex. While you’re drunk. At 3 a.m. Hence the aforementioned complications.

You are under 25. If you have more than 10 friends whom you’ve never actually met, there are more than 500 “Photos of You,” or your status updates use too manyyyyyyy extra letterssssssss, you were not born before VH-1 was on the air.

You’re hardcore. If your profile information contains the word atheist, republican, or vegan, then you want us to know your position, you’re sticking to it, and you’d love to debate it. It’s not enough simply to be a vegan, atheist, or republican. I know plenty of indecisive, non-confrontational atheists. But they don’t identify as such in their Facebook profile information.

See? It’s no joke. I could go on and on. Now, of course, there are exceptions. I mean, all sorts of anomalies occur in nature, and therefore in Facebook. Sometimes a person likes kitten movies but not chick flicks. Absolutely. But, for the most part, you know I’m right.
Here’s the thing: whether or not there is any validity to my clever little list, the sad truth is that I sometimes think like this, and so do a lot of other people. It’s the new prejudice. Basically, there are two kinds of people in the world: people who treat Facebook like real human contact and people who don’t. I pick on the former group a lot, and in fact I am one of them. I don’t know about you, but I need to repersonalize my interpersonal communication. And I probably should stop drawing conclusions about people I don’t know. Except for the Farmies.

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