Friday, January 28, 2011

If this world is a hallucination, Facebook's like that trip within a trip

Speaking of tripping, esteemed ex-prime minister Mr. Simitis in unpleasant shades of puke. Reference. I tried a gradient map this time (these last few ones are drawn in grayscale first) instead of multiply & overlay layer, it has this particular clean 'graphic design' look to it. Then I did the sweaty highlights on top, it's a simpler piece but I rather like the end result.

So I joined Necronomicon-Facebook and connected (and re-connected in a few cases) with friends and acquaintances from the past. It's a weird thing, to see the faces of people you haven't seen in ages, see them all grown-up and yet still have an internal representation of them as kids. Unsettling, really. I walked around in a haze of "what year is it?" all day yesterday.

Anyway, the predominant comment I got from disparate sources was something along the lines of "you're the last person I ever expected to join Facebook". Well apparently I am the last person to have joined Facebook because they locked registration right after me, so that's a redundant comment on the factual level (this is a lie). Secondarily though, as to the spirit of the comment, it's really fascinating to me the sort of guilt those statements have behind them. Do you guys not want to be on Facebook? I don't like the dark corporate forces behind the service either and I don't intend to make it my new god, but I don't think that's what the comment is about. I think these people feel guilty for wasting too much time on Facebook and they're distraught to see yet another victim fall in the hole.

I'm very aware of what I am going to use Facebook for and for how much. I'm not going to play farmville compulsively or stalk highschool almost-girlfriends. Is the supposed indignation over a perceived shift in my ideology that allows for this new Facebook Helm? I'm afraid I might have come off as like a hardline vegan or whatever when it comes to some communicational platforms I've decided not to use in the past, like cellphones or facebook. I use others (I am on an irc channel constantly, for example and have been for almost ten years now, I employ three e-mail adresses and their respective instant messenger services). I help run two widely-used forums. I know how to use these things. First time I talked with a stranger on the internet, it was in ICQ - do you remember that can't-take-it-back-now chat client in it where it showed the other person as you typed each individual letter, as opposed to the whole string when you pressed return? You couldn't edit your words, you had to think on your feet. That was cybercore, not this Facebook devil.

Okay, so, it'd be a lie to say that there's no ideology in my not having been on Facebook for this long. I think it's more a case of doing first, rationalizing why I did it second, mostly. I simply thought I didn't need it to be a good friend and keep in touch. I had telephone numbers and msn addresses, right?

Well, wrong. I've come to slowly realize that a lot of people I would like to communicate with have migrated fully to that service and have trouble keeping in touch otherwise. It really seems just picking up the phone and cold-calling someone you want to talk to is becoming more and more difficult. Instant messengers still get a lot of use but try keeping your contracts in order when you've got a hundred business connections there along with friends and people who just added you and perhaps said one thing to you, ever. So instead of hermiting down and getting off of the internet (my usual fantasy), I've made yet another account for yet another internet thing. Am I glad that a scary corporation will keep my corpse alive on Facebook even long after I've been on this world? Not really, though it's a perhaps morbidly fascinating idea on some level. Am I worried about my privacy? Not that narcissistic, really - I don't think anyone will care about me being in this picture or that besides the people that I wanted to look at those pictures anyway. I'll nevertheless be careful with what's I put on there just because that early-internet-adopter paranoia is hard to shake off. I generate my ten-digit passwords randomly with assorted utilities for Christ's sake. I've almost read half of the car-crash that is Snow Crash, I've pondered on the digitization of the soul, I'm not afraid of fucking Facebook.

(Though I am. I am really scared of how it shows me how faulty my memory for faces and names is.)

The lesson I need to learn is I suppose, to not frame my utilitarian choices in an ideological facade (wait, mixed metaphor) -- I'm actually not sure if it's wholly my fault or that people prefer to interpret me in that way, but it's something to keep in mind. And I am looking forward to when the internet migrates to some new variation of Facebook that isn't owned by some evil corporation - and then five years after the rest of the world, when Greece will also adopt it. That'll be nice. Until then, my name's in the dead book.


JesusGun said...

Great illustration, though at the very first glance, i thought it was Cornilius Castoriades.

At the facebook issue, i was kind of curious about why you didn't have an account (even if i knew you were an ideological enemy of it) because, let's admit it, facebook can give you some things that are indeed worthy, and that you can't get without it.
The REAL reason i had not an account until before 1.5 year, was because of my blind prejustice, which i covered with ideological bullshit. When i created one, i turned it off in a week or so, because i got irriteted from one thing: You got to choose who is your "friend" and who is not. Well, for some people i'm not sure if they are my friends, and to be honest, i don't wanna know cause i just don't care about everybody. Real relationships are sometimes far more complicated than facebook relationships. And what if i fight with a friend? I have to block him on facebook, or not? This is where facebook might start being a little bit dangerous for your relationships. Anyway, a lot of times i wish i was on facebook, but i'm not (socialy) ready for it, yet.
What i'm trying to say is that facebook oversimplifies life, and as long as it is a part of your social life, it can cause short circuit because of this difference with the real, complicated life.

Helm said...

I agree it's a gross simplification. The way I deal with it is that I do not take the words of facebook at face value. I do not ponder on the meaning of 'friend'. It's a service reminding me that people exist, not that only-close-friends exist, for me.

Erenan said...

I can relate, because when I joined Facebook finally, I got that reaction, like, "Wow! Luke on Facebook!? It's a miracle!"

Of course, my finally joining the site actually had a lot to do with my personality changing substantially, which in turn had a lot to do with getting married.

As for the friend issue, yeah, I never really understood "friend" on Facebook to mean the same thing as "friend" in regular usage. It's just the term they use for people who have special access to your profile. And you can do with that as you will, basically.

Also, as to your comment about memory for faces and names, I know what you mean. It's amazing how different things look in my memory from how they really look. Kind of like looking up an old cartoon that you saw when you were a kid. I always have a very distinct image in my memory, and it's always wrong.

Nekromantis said...

I like the illustration. You make the guy look a little bit like froggy swamp thing with those colors. :D

I joined facebook a year ago with a pseudonym after trying it out for a month with my own name. I didn't like how these "I was your neighbor when we were child" guys and ex-girlfriends could found me so easily with my own name and wanted to be "friends" with me. Now I'm safely there with my pseudonym and bunch of close friends and my sister who I've added as my facebook friends but it's all very silent now.. I'm also on IRC all the time and most of these people are with me there also so Facebook is not really working for my interests. An unsocial network.

Helm said...

Thanks for the information. What do you think you'll do? Will you attempt more sociality, or less?

Nekromantis said...

Well this post really got me thinking about it. I have some friends I used to be more close with but then kind of lost touch with them and I just sent a friend request to one of them. I'll see what comes out of this.

Helm said...

I hope it works out well, because a bad experience when you start out to do something like this can seal the deal.