What percentage of your Facebook friends do you actually like? 80%? No come on. 30%? Let’s go with 30% for a second. Out of the remaining 70%, how many would you notice dropping off the surface of earth? 20%? So what exactly is the role of the other 50%? To applaud on cue?
I keep asking this question (at least the first part of it) every time a coffee table conversation gets a little dull. The percentages vary of course, but not enough to invalidate the point you’re hoping I’ll eventually get to, which is that Fakebook has a place in our lives, like an abusive boyfriend you never knew you needed before you met him. A little like Edward Cullen in Twilight. Lets break down the reasons:
- The eternal wisdom of Sun Tzu/ Niccolò Machiavelli/ Michael Corleone- “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”
You don’t need Fakebook to know what’s going on with that close friend who’s going through a breakup, or the other ones who’s depressed at not getting a job. No, those you hear about, probably more often than you want to. But what about your arch rival from kindergarten who you still secretly hate? What’s that guy up to? Did he buy a new car? That’s the kind of intel you need in order to not be left behind in the rat race.
- The Happiness contest
How do you know you’re happy? What’s that? You would just know? Well if you believe that you are clearly not a very metric driven person. As most of us know, you need some benchmarks for relative grading. The word “happy” is meaningless. You can only be “happier”. And to be happier someone else should be sadder. Just the way it works.
Now, proving that you are in fact happier than your old friends and rivals used to be incredibly complicated before 2006. For starters, you had to work hard at looking better or making more money or both. Then once you do that, you had to let them know you had done it, not an easy task when you’re not all in school together anymore. You needed to attend a lot of alumni meetings and weddings just to let people know how well you are doing. If that wasn’t an option, you sometimes had to figure out which one of your schoolmates are still secretly reliving high school in their heads and get in touch with them in the hope that they will spread the word about your success. As you can see, all this was quite difficult and again had the measurability problem. No feedback loop- no way to find out if it worked or if that little walrus lied and told everyone you’re broke and pot-bellied now.
2006, enter Fakebook. Suddenly, you don’t need to travel across state or national borders to dress up at a wedding. You can attend a local wedding, hold your breath and stand a couple of steps above other people and get a picture clicked. You no longer need that guy who’s trapped in a time loop. In fact, you don’t need to call anyone or send your picture to anybody. You just post it on your wall and act like you didn’t know people were eavesdropping. Real classy. You don’t even need to actually look good or make money. Just starve for a day and buy a coffee at Starbucks and edit the picture. A lot.
Fakebook opens up a whole new battlefield and provides you multiple new strategies for winning the happiness contest, such as:
- My mom’s better than your mom:
Pre-2006, it was difficult to walk up to people and tell them that your mom/dad/husband/wife is cooler/more loving/rich than theirs. Sometimes you would go to their homes and you could sense from their smug faces that they thought theirs was better but you had no socially acceptable way to counter it. Now, you can thank yours on their wall for the world’s best anniversary dinner, or use their birthday (and wall) to explain how they make you feel special every day and how lucky you are. Applause/likes are guaranteed from two families.
- Airport check-ins:
Self explanatory utility. Potential tactics:
- Check in at the airport and post a joke about how you thought the Fakebook check in was enough to get on the flight
- Review the facilities, new terminal, rest room, sugar level in the cafe, etc. Mix it up next time by comparing and contrasting different airports and how each one made you feel
- Weekend wars:
There was once a time when the only way to make a single guy or girl depressed about their boring or lonely weekend was to ask them ‘what plans?’ and then make a face. This is one of the few offline tactics which are still effective but Fakebook lets you do it at scale and make a much bigger set of people feel bad about their lives.
Mass reach tactics:
- Take trophy photos of the steaks and ice creams you hunted down and ate
- Refer to pub hopping using pictures or multi check ins
The possibilities are endless and I am unable to think of a conclusion to this post so let me end this with a question to the reader. How do you think you can use Fakebook to be ‘happier’?
If this was Fakebook, you could read this and smugly hover over the like button and not click it to make me feel bad about the lack of engagement I got. But guess what. This is my blog and no one knows it exists and I’m just talking to myself anyway so fuck you and your like button.
But you’ll comment right?