Fear, Lies and Facebooking

July 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Facebook, dating tragedy and net stalking: McGee Noble takes a peek at Facebook’s profile

Meeting HotScot123…

It’s 1997. The internet is just a bumbling, brilliant toddler with an inappropriate dating obsession. I remember using my computer class at school to chat to HotScot123. It was naughty, exciting and most of all completely newfangled. I’m pretty sure I didn’t think the internet could be better than HotScot. We flirted, I ‘lol’d, and I dreamed of a handsome Scottish boy or just a handsome boy named Scot, I didn’t know which.

My dreams were dashed.

Looking over a friend’s shoulder it turned out HotScot123 was chatting to her too. And saying some much spicier things. Maybe I was too much of a nice girl, although more likely it was the beginning of the internet carpet bomb approach to meeting people that we so often see now.

A carpet bomb approach

The carpet bomb approach is much as it sounds. It involves bombarding as many sites and chatrooms as you can with comments and ‘information’ about yourself. Now I’m not talking about dating sites here, I’m talking social networking.

Exposed, a variety show in Southern California, do a ‘Facebook’ infomercial.

They saw you pee in primary school…

My dalliance with HotScot held the seed of social networking. How much more sophisticated we are now! With our Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. Only, when you sign up to Facebook, what do you do? You proceed to contact anyone you have ever met, ever. For some reason, Facebook is able to bypass the embarrassment of ex lovers, people who saw you pee yourself in primary school, even friend’s parents. I was distressed to find people contacting me who I never wanted to speak to again until I realised that what so many people are doing is just lurking. They invite your friendship, you accept, then you never ever say a word to each other as you rifle through each others photos thinking ‘gosh he’s put on weight’ or ‘ha! Still a bit of a slapper I see’. You accept because you want a peek, and you’ll put up with someone peeking back since you never have to acknowledge it. It’s like a one night stand, intimate, sordid and you never mention it again.

BBC 3 comedy ‘The Wall’ do a parody of Facebook in real life.

Favourites for a Facebook Stalker

There are other problems with social networking culture. Once your information is on Facebook, how do you control it. The nature of the internet means that all phenomena quickly become multi-platform and searching youtube you find thousands of videos referencing Facebook. One, Facebook Stalker uploaded by Dr49oon, is a parody of a stalker extolling the wonders of Facebook and how easy it is to keep up with his victims.

Stalkers love Facebook

It’s a funny gag, with a bit of a bite. It is all too easy to make information accessible to people you don’t really know using facebook, and while it is far more sophisticated than the chat rooms of old, all those news feeds and updates can cloak a sometimes scary anonymity.

Yet knowing people that have literally hundreds and hundreds of Facebook friends, I find myself longing for the days of one on one. That lone chatroom, my single suitor.

Not much changes

A friend of mine approached me the other day asking how he could change some of the information on his page without anyone knowing it. Confused, as this is the very point of Facebook- the continous, monotonous stream of information about the most mundane acts of peoples lives, I asked him what he meant. Looking over his shoulder to see if anyone could hear him he whispered ‘I met a famous chick and I want to Facebook her but I need my relationship status to be ‘single’.’

HotScot123? Is it you, after all these years?