Everybody loves to complain about Facebook. But I’ve been wading through all the nonstop commentary over the last few weeks and I’ve made a startling discovery. Everybody also lies about why they use Facebook. After exhaustive research, here are the Seven Lies You Tell Yourself About Facebook.
1. I Only Friend People I Really Know: Stop pretending you have standards; you will friend anyone. You would accept Bernie Madoff if he asked. You want your friend count to be sky-high. That’s why I accept all sorts of people I haven’t seen in 20 years and couldn’t pick out of a line-up. I refuse to have one less friend than my arch nemesis from college. I will not tolerate a lower count than my annoying colleague who sucks her teeth in meetings whenever I say anything. Admit it, you’re no better than I am—how many of your “friends” would you invite to your house?
2. Facebook Made Me Do It: Facebook didn’t make you tell all 1,384 of your friends that you once had chlamydia. Facebook didn’t hold your hand onto the mouse and force you to type: “Josh is in favor of slapping geese and women,” as one of your “25 random things” and it certainly didn’t waterboard you into asking everyone what their slave name is. Psychiatrists call this “externalizing blame.” It’s a way to lay-off shame and self-loathing onto somebody (or something) else so you can feel better about yourself. I once wrote, “Raina is feeling like the cat’s meow,” and hated Facebook for days because of it. I know now that it was nobody else’s fault but my own.
3. Wall-to-Wall Flirting Isn’t Cheating: Just because it’s called “social networking” with “friends” doesn’t make hard-core online flirting OK. Do not try and tell me that you were surprised when your boyfriend left you after he read your pornographic wall-to-wall with his cousin. Also: stop sending your assistant cute virtual gifts. Virtual gifting counts. In fact, it’s probably not appropriate for you to be “friending” her or the cute summer intern in the first place. Same thing goes for wall-to-wall stalking the love of your 7th grade life. Online harassment is just as bad as the bricks and mortar kind.
4. I Use Facebook to Keep in Touch With People: No, the truth is you’re nosy. Admit it. You scour the profiles of other people for the same reason I do. You want to know their business. Facebook isn’t addictive—your desire to know what other people are up to is addictive. The over-sharing thrills you. I know I’m hooked. Don’t you hunt through your friends’ walls looking for any scrap of information that will produce that warm tingly schadenfreude feeling?
Facebook is our own personal reality show and our friends are the stars. What else besides “American Idol” or “Project Runway” allows you to be so judgmental while wearing pajamas? If people stopped revealing ridiculous stuff about themselves in their status updates, “Rock of Love” would be your “guilty pleasure” instead. You know you’re dying to discover your college roommate lives in a trailer in his mom’s backyard. I literally cried from joy when I saw that an ex-boyfriend was sporting a comb-over.
5. I’m Soooo Over Facebook: Come on. You love Facebook for exactly the reasons you pretend to hate it … it’s the Big Thing. And we’re not falling for that ironic distancing pose you’ve been adopting lately. We know you spend hours looking for former girlfriends or that guy who you loved from freshman psych but didn’t have the courage to talk to. I tried to act all Margaret Meadish when I first joined Facebook (“It’s a classic example of mass hysteria inspired by our collective need to be famous. Blah, blah, blah.”) But everybody knew I wasn’t on there doing social anthropology. I was on there because I wanted to snicker at that girl I went to elementary school with who reports every single one of the eight pomegranate martinis she drinks every night.
6. And I am Soooo Not Competitive: We don’t just want more friends than everybody else; we also want the highest score in Word Twist and the most virtual Easter Eggs. I recently spent nearly 24 hours playing Scramble on Facebook until I had a higher score than my friend Dough Dough. Why? Because I knew Facebook would send him a note that said; “Raina has beaten your personal high score on Scramble.” When he commented on his complete and total defeat, I just said; “I didn’t know Facebook would tell you that. OMG! LOL!” We love Facebook because it allows you to gloat to your heart’s content and hide that self-satisfied smirk on your face behind the wall of the Internet. By the way, if you have a Scramble score higher than 147, don’t even think about friending me.
7. Facebook is My Friend: No, it’s a business (albeit one that has yet to make money). Everyone knows casinos hide the exits and pump oxygen into the air to keep you gambling and get all your money. Facebook is doing the same thing but with avatars and Food Flings. They want to trap you behind their dotcom walls so they can attract advertisers. Think about it. If Facebook really loved you, they wouldn’t run those “5 Friends HATE you!” banners on the top of Scramble. And have you ever had a friend try to take ownership of all the posts and baby pictures you sent them for who knows what reason? Nor has a “friend” ever taunted me with ads that implied Obama owed me $12,000 in personal-stimulus money.