July 2009

Facebook: Stalking Your Way to a More Informed Future

Author: Lindsey Hawkins

Ever crave the attention of celebrity, collecting fans from all over the world who are curious about your every move and can’t wait to see the next posted picture of you hammered and falling over yourself with an infectious grin on your face that screams, “It’s complicated”?

Ever wish you could find out what that loser ex-boyfriend who shattered your heart and stole all the pieces five years ago looks like now and what piece of peroxide trash he is “in a relationship” with?

Becoming an FBI, i.e. Facebook Investigator or Facebook Icon, whichever fits your personality, is quite simple and wickedly entertaining. Just be ready for your appointed paparazzi to plaster what and who you did last night all over the home page of millions.

Facebook, a 10 billion dollar Harvard grad invention, is the new window to the soul, so make your eyes useful and be prepared to scan webpage after webpage of the personal lives of your past and future. It’s all quite fascinating, and if you say you hate to find out the latest gossip and drama of your peers, then you might as well turn the key to that bus you are driving straight over to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks for lying.

To begin your Facebook saga, you must complete a simple Internet profile, filling out who you are, where you’re from, your likes and dislikes, your relationship status, your religious and political views, your employer, your position, your contact information—you know, just the basics.

Once you have typed out your information, you start “friend requesting” people you know whom you like to communicate with frequently. Facebook-ing is just like texting and e-mailing, but there are pictures and photo albums to look at.
This is where the fun begins, but keep in mind that if you want to see theirs, they get to see yours. Facebook has three basic communication options: a personal e-mail option whereby only you and the person you are writing can view your gossip; an instant messenger whereby you and another member you have befriended can chat online; and a public wall posting option. This third option is the most interesting, because wall posting is where everyone can put two and two together, finish your thoughts and sentences and pretty much figure out who you’re talking to, when you did it, and what happened—not to mention where you are at any given time of the day and what kind of mood you are in.

At first your Facebook account will seem harmless, because you aren’t very popular in the beginning; but the chain reaction and power of the friend request will blast your life into superstardom quicker than you can type conflict of interest. Once you have requested a few friends, then their friends can see an icon with your face and name on it, and they have the opportunity to friend request you and so on and so on until you become Kevin Bacon in The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
After building your fan base, you can do one of two things: turn into an FBI, Facebook Icon, or turn into an FBI, Facebook Investigator. As a Facebook Icon, your daily routine will consist of taking as many cool pictures of yourself and your life as possible and uploading them all to your Facebook page in hopes that all of your friends and new acquaintances will see how fabulous your life is. You may also spend quite a bit of time labeling people in your photos, called tagging, so that all the friends of your friends can also see every picture you have posted, thus allowing the masses of your past and future to know who you have been partying with, sleeping with, living with, working with, and of course what you look like, how you dress and who you know.

By the time you are at your next high school reunion or family reunion, somebody who is friends with somebody else who is an acquaintance of somebody else on Facebook who knew you in a past life will already know that you were engaged last month but are now single and looking for random play. They will also know that: you used to work for that big company but are now self-employed, are a fan of Obama, a member of the group Beer in the Shower, your celebrity twin is Gerard Depardieu, you owe money to the Mafia, and you are on your way to the gym and then to Pete’s for some pizza and Rock Band.

But this is where it becomes all worth it. You also have the opportunity to use your mouse clicking skills and precious time and click back and forth through the lives of those who foolishly decided to accept your friend request just so they could poke around in your life too! This means you are now allowed to be a Facebook Investigator and stalk your way to a more informed future.

You can choose to expose yourself as much or as little as you want to, and the benefits, if you’re smart, bored and know how to use a mouse are an endless tree of grossly entertaining gossip rings. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person by who writes on their wall, what is written and who they are shooting Jagerbombs with at the bar.

Some call Facebook a fad; some call it a sad waste of invaluable time; some call it a genius way of networking. I call it a fascinating addiction that has been around for centuries. The most global and entertaining pastime of our generation is gossip. Gossip alone has created an international, multi-billion dollar industry of literature, television and Internet drama that never gets old. Facebook is just another way to create and feed an infinite hunger for melodrama. Just remember, if you post it, it will get viewed by somebody who will tell somebody who is either a member of your family or someone you know from work. But take comfort in the fact that if they’ve got something on you, you can conjure up something on them.

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