In the 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist, a priest asks the demonic squatter “who are you?” The pea soup spewing demon replies “I am no one.” Of course, the demon was speaking backwards so it took Father Damian some time to understand that it wasn’t speaking in tongues.
By the same token, it took me awhile to understand that Twitter is a bit more than a poor man’s Facebook. In fact, as I now understand it, it’s even more than a generic equivalent of the old MySpace Status Update feature. Yes, I now clearly see that the pseudo psychosocial role it plays is to confirm what apparently everyone else seems to know … except you and me. And, that is that we are completely irrelevant.
Ok, I know the truth hurts, but let’s face it, it’s true. Unless your last name is Lohan, Hilton, Spears, Pitt, Jolie or Bieber, you are no one – especially if you have ever attempted to conquer the Triple Crown of social networking platforms: MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t believe me or refuse to admit to your social irrelevancy, consider the following evidence submitted for your review (tick all that apply):
You sign up for MySpace and quickly discover that the rules of the game seem to be that the one with the most friends wins. You try valiantly and vainly to keep up with the a host of celebrities and other strangers who keep asking you to “add them” feigning the promise of real kinship, but offering only a once off “thanks for the add”. You eventually begin to wonder how the public at large might perceive the long parade of these sentiments in your comment stream. In time, after approximately hitting the 2543 friend mark, it dawns on you that your actions have revealed you to be nothing more than a pathetic voyeur-like slug trolling for some confirmation of your cyber existence.
At some point, you most likely attempt to show your static legion of who’s noones that you are a “people person” worth getting to know. And so, under the delusion that positive energy attracts positive energy, you begin updating your status with daily positive affirmations such as “I feel great today!” or “Happy to be alive!” or “Today, I’m walking on sunshine!” A response to your pie in the sky proclamations include a note from “The Raging Prune Spirits”, a Psychobilly music band outside of Saskatchewan, inviting you to come “punch the monkey” with them at “Manvir’s Hideaway”. Another response comes in the form of a pugnose Pekingese dog sporting a yellow bow named “Barf” that comments “better than walking on what I left behind”. Hope begins to build with the arrival of a message in your inbox with the title: “You Are The Best!” …. it’s from a dead rockstar you admired exclaiming how much he values your and his other 120,642 friends’ friendship, while also reminding you that he has a new “Best Of” collection out on iTunes.
Disheartened, you eventually abandon updating your MySpace page. Even three months later when you check in to see if in your absense you were missed, you discover to your chagrin that only Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrtets, America’s Next Top Model, Judd Jugmonger, Glenn Beck and a friend of Shane Dawson wants to be your friend… so does a Faust quoting cyborg named “Kilroy 3.0”.
You decide to start from scratch with more realistic goals. You gingerly agree to let Facebook’s “Friend Finder” appliation access your email contacts. Word goes out heralding your savvy arrival in this new social arena. You end up on several spam lists. However, you are pleased to learn that several old classmates have begun to populate your friends list… as well as some supposed friends of friends of colleagues of theirs. Someone you don’t know sends you an e-heart or an e-cocktail. Things are looking up! Someone invites you to join their Mafia Family or to play Texas Hold’em Poker or Scrabulous with them. Another asks you to join a cause such as the “Pardon Jim Morrison” campaign. Someone admonishes you to “Like” Jimmy Dean Sausage. A wave of Farmville pleas assail your “Wall” imploring you to adopt a little albino piglet with 3 legs and an overactive bladder that has strayed into their e-pasture.Someone offers you some seed and fertilizer.
You decide to just be yourself. You post pictures of your desk, your lunch, your new cummerbund and your face in the bathroom mirror. You comment on the weather and post links to some articles on dieting, IBS, and Punxsutawney Phil, or perhaps Lindsay Lohan. You take a quiz such as “which Star Wars character are you?” You discover you are Yoda … or worse, a Jawa.
You post profusely to the 28 friends you have. The final straws break: A distant relative tags you in an old photo taken of you when you were 4 … sitting naked on a child potty shaped like a turtle; you look quite dismayed from all the pressure. One of your old classmates that you had long forgotten suddenly “pokes” you and then posts on your wall “Hey Cochise! Still got that rash?”. You begin to understand why the term “unfriend” was confirmed as an official word by the lexicographers’ syndicate.
You join, this time ignoring the request to use yet another Friend Finder application. You decide you will use Twitter to stay up on news trends and important people. You follow Al Gore, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins, Anderson Cooper, Roland S. Martin, Michael Moore, your local congressman, Larry King, and eventually, Lindsay Lohan. You decide you won’t tweet. A month later you you sign up for an auto posting service that tweets daily musings such as “Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true” or “The two most common elements in the world are hydrogen and stupidity” … or “I’m walking on sunshine”.
You struggle to find twitter links to your old MySpace friends. You are now following 1089 people. There are 8 following you. With effort, you reach 15. The next morning you’re back to 8. These loyalists include AllRecipes.com, KFC, Health Pass USA, Dunkin Donuts, Judd Jugmonger and someone named PayDayJunkie. You pay $39.95 to a discreet India based service that promises to deliver 1500 followers within 1 week. They deliver. Half are 15-year old girls from Singapore and South Korea. The other half host screen names such as Hitome93, BenDover21, GagaLady1115, Pazuzu, or “pooping13056”.
Facebook it, you are not a social butterfly. These creatures instinctively know how to flit, flitter, tweet and twitter regardless of their spacial or temporal dimension, be it cyber space or real space. Everyone else just gets sucked into the isolating void of reality where MySpace is no place, Facebook is faceless, and Twitter has an overcapacity of auto-tweet-bots.
At best, social networking services distract us from the reality that we have nothing to do or no other real distractions of merit. At worst, they are mind numbing psychological reinforcers of the reality that some of us … are just completely irrelevant.
PS. Thanks for reading. Have you visited My-Vacant-Space recently? If you do … look me up, PLEASE!!!
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