facebook- or the junior school syndrome


After resisting for 2 years, I’ve given up: I joined Facebook. For two main reasons: discover what all the fuss was about, and keep in touch with my friend Billy and those like him who only seem to comunicate via FB nowdays.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I don’t understand people who proudly say “I’m not on email and have no clue how to use a computer!”    LOOSERS!!!!

.. and I believe the nerds who refuse to use a mobile phone should be hybernated and kept in ice until the year 2768, when humans will have invented a time machine that can send them back to the ninenteenth century…

Still, I had a feeling FB was a waste of time, a little toy for bored office people who needed a break, something for teenagers. But, because I believe in the scientific method – you can’t write something off as bad without tasting it first – and especially because last Saturday the friend I was supposed to go and watch fireworks with stood me up, out of boredom, I made the big step: I created a Facebook profile.

Let’s admit it, for the first 25 minutes, it’s fun. Suddenly, you’re submerged by requests of people who want to be your “friends”. People write “on your wall” (what does THAT mean???) enthusiastic welcome messages, as if you’d finally joined the coolest party on earth where everybody was just waiting for you. Schoolmates you havent seen since 1985 pop up, now bald and fat…

But after these first overwhelming moments, things start looking odd. First of all, you begin to get information about anything your virtual “friends” do. Mario Mari is now friends with Laro Lari! Laro Lari has just written comment on Pilo Pili’s wall! Stu Steward wrote a comment about Phil Phillis photos! 

All right… and why should I care?? Am I supposed to keep up with the all virtual friendships budding on the net thanks to this delightful device?

But this is nothing. Let’s face it, the great thing of TALKING to a friend, or MEETING them, is that you can share moments, things to say that you REALLY want to say. But what you get on FB (every 2 minutes) are things such as: Laura is eating spaghetti! Max has just been shopping in Tescos. Andrea has been scratching his ass… People have absouletely NOTHING to say, but are so thrilled at the idea of having an “audience”, that they feel the need of keeping them informed on petty details nobody gives a damn about. It’s the Big Brother syndrome. Let all the world know everything you do, 24/7, never mind if you’re the single most boring person on Earth.

And then there’s the “friends” business. This is the Junior School syndrome. Do you remember (the ones among you who are over 30, at least) when you were 12, and were at Junior School (or Middle school or Scuola Media) and the holidays came and you would send something like 42 postcards from the seaside??? You’d send postcard to anyone you knew, not because you cared but because you wanted to return home and find that they had written back to you, that you had received 50 postcards, 10 more than your friend Marco, which meant you were SO popular!!! Well, FB is the same. It’s not about WHO you have listed as friends. it’s about HOW MANY. There’s a real frenzy going on, people want to list you as a friend because their FB status will grow… People you’d normally speak to twice a year send requests to be your “BEST FRIEND” (funny my real best friend is so far NOT on FB, too busy feeding her newborn son). My friend Gianmarco has something like 400 people listed as FB friends, most of whom he’s never met, and every time he adds another 100, he throws a party.

But let’s analyze who I HAVE as my friends. At least 10 are people I ring or email on a regular basis, people I don’t need FB to be in touch with, in fact I’d never use FB to comunicate with them. Then I have colleagues, a myriad of actors – some of them I like and know fairly well but I’ve never really been in touch with after work, some I meet occasionally at recording sessions, exchanging views about the current weather conditions because I honestly have nothing to say to them. There’s my sister – I hopefully won’t be needing FB to keep in touch with her. Then there are some totally unknown people who I found out are “fans” of the Japanese cartoons I’ve dubbed. I have no idea who they are, what they look like, and, sorry guys if you’re reading this, I think idolising voice over artistes is WEIRD, get a life! THere’s a guy with my same surname who is apparently my great great cousin. Yippie! And now? Nothing else in common I fear… There’s the American actor who plays Coop in the soap Guiding Light. I dub Lizzie in Guiding Light, who’s Coop’s girlfriend so he’s basically… what is he? The body of the voice I’m acting with?? Then… ladies and gentlemen… there’s Barrack Obama. Yes. Obama has a FB page and I’m listed as his friend. Together with some other 3 millions people.   Oh man, he wins even on Facebook. Not even Gianmarco will ever go that far!

Now, do we REALLY need FB? Don’t you think it was much nicer when we weren’t alerted every 30 secs by messages saying Pat had tortellini, Liz has gone to the movies and Rachel isn’t single anymore? Wasn’t it nice when friends called us because they wanted to share something meanful, or even just a gossip, so doing creating a nice little break in our life? Shouldn’t communication be used to communicate rather than to FILL THE VOID?

I think we’re all desperate to reach out, to let the world notice our little existence, to feel we have friends out there, such good friends they’re happy to know anything about us, anything, like our grannies used to do, when they called us just to ask what we had eaten at lunch. We all want to know that even people from nursery time haven’t forgotten about us, that we can still be in touch with every single person we’ve met in our life, that we’ve left a mark on them, that time hasn’t passed, that we can all link hands together and play…

What an illusion. The truth is that on Saturday night I ended up going to bed at 2am, after spending the night online, without opening my mouth to produce a sound, without seeing anyone “in flesh” nor saying anything even vaguely interesting. I felt so lonely I couldn’t fall asleep, or perhaps it was just that computers overstimulate your brain, like caffeine.

Yes, FB can be fun from time to time, but living on Facebook is the single saddest thing our society has managed to come up with.

Now I sound old, preachy and out of touch with the “hip world”. Perhaps I should also be hybernated until 2768…

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