Time works differently for technological advancement. It’s like dog years. A hundred tech years ago machines were only capable of performing singular demands. Since then our programming capabilities and electrical engineering has become increasingly complex, to the stage where not only can machines perform a selection of separate actions, they can adjust their actions according to input and environment.
Gymnasium equipment and machinery can measure our heartbeat and performance and adjust the difficulty of our training accordingly. My Macbook Pro has sensors that detect light and adjust the brightness of my screen accordingly.
And now, through the wonder of modern technology our computers can diagnose depression. Galactic sophistication has allowed my keyboard to secretly collect minuscule secretions from my fingertips as I type, measure my serotonin levels and calculate my social stimulation. Then, after mere seconds of scientific testing a conclusion is reached. My diagnosis is in. Ladies and gentlemen:
Facebook thinks I’m lonely.
Recently a new tab has appeared amongst the abyssal blue bar atop the home page of Facebook. Between my Profile and Account tabs lies the teasing Find Friends tab. This function has been readily available through Facebook for as long as I’ve been a member. But now Facebook has installed a disabled access ramp for those so paralysed by loneliness they simply can’t search and locate the means to make new friends.
Apparently I’m one of these people, partially disabled by solitude. As if that wasn’t enough provocation, I still see periodical prompts beneath my Upcoming Events section. Prompts which have been worded carefully to coax maximum guilt from whomever reads them.
Sean, more friends are waiting.
Sean – noun
male, a given name.
more – noun
an additional quantity, amount, or number.
are – verb
present indicative plural.
waiting – verb [used without object]
to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something happens.
Firstly the soulless software addresses me by my given name, acting colloquially in an attempt to be both direct and friendly, achieving my attention, enticing me in, gaining my assurance and leading me softly into the comma.
More friends seems to suggest that I don’t have enough already, that I’m somehow losing the race. But more isn’t a quantifiable amount. It simply suggests a greater number. This offers no indication as to how many friends are waiting!
Are is a present indicative plural. It means it’s currently happening. People are waiting right now! They’re waiting for me!
Punctuality is something I value in my friends. Facebook has branded me a hypocrite. I’ve plunged these people into a state of repose. They’re currently inactive due to my virtual social negligence. Who knows how long I’ve put their lives on hold?!
The statement is subtle. It’s not commanding me to act but it ensures I’ll feel bad until I do. The onus is on me. How long have I kept these people? Hours? Days? Weeks? There’s an unquantifiable amount of hypothetical friends that I’ve yet to virtually meet, and I’ve already kept them waiting for an unspecified length of time. Suddenly I feel disrespectful. That doesn’t make for a good first impression, and I hear they count.
Naturally upon realising my ignorance I waste no time rushing into this page and frantically scanning for familiar faces, frightened to keep them waiting a second longer.
An infinite amount of forsaken eyes stare back at me.
Deserted. Destitute. Disconsolate.
“Why are you keeping us waiting Sean? Why have you forsaken us, your friends?”
To this I have no answer.
There’s so many faces, so much hope and aspiration. A virtual society starved of communal nutrition. A nation of loners lost in social purgatory. Waiting to be chosen and taken to the upper echelons of my friend list.
Hesitation overwhelms my tired mind. Where do I start? I begin to scroll. Further and further. Curioser and curiouser. But the relentless arrival of fresh faces only adds to my burden.
Suddenly I come to a stark realisation – I don’t know any of these people. At least 67% of the people I do know I actively dislike, and many of the remaining hypotheticals have already been privileged enough to be considered a friend on Facebook, but have squandered any opportunity for social media hilarity by being intensely uninteresting and were consequently deleted.
Nevertheless I persevere. My guilty conscience still overriding my rationality. Finally, after literally minutes of scrolling I see a face, and some abs that I do recognise. Ecstatic, I click on the picture to browse the profile. But instantly I’m suspicious. For I do not think that this profile picture matches this name. I don’t think Bruce Lee has a Facebook account. I think he died in 1973. I can scarcely contain my shock at this sham. Anyone who poses as a deceased Chinese American martial arts actor/instructor is no friend of mine.
By this stage my guilt is waning. Besides, does Facebook really want me to be friends with all these people? An infinite amount of hypothetical friendships to begin and maintain. What about me Facebook? I need a little me time.
Friend is a term using lightly throughout social media. Facebook should not suggest friends simply based on mutual friends. It’s not enough. If Mark Zuckerberg wants to introduce new features to help me organise the people I know, he should introduce a mere acquaintance list. How about organising people as mutual bastards? That way I, and they would know where I stand on our relationship.
Perhaps Facebook should take its cues from dating websites. eHarmony claims to use personality profiles and compatibility criteria to match users based on the deepest aspects of compatibility, such as intellect and character. Why the hell does Facebook not suggest friends based on compatibility, intellect and character? Then I might at least pay attention.
Scientists say that the maximum amount of friends our brains can manage and maintain is 150. This is Dunbar‘s number. Currently I have approximately 140 friends. I had to leave a bit of brain space. Y’know, to manage and maintain useless factoids and erotic cinema. It’s not porn, it’s art.
In conclusion: Mark Zuckerberg is clearly concerned for my wellbeing. I just want to say; Mark, if you’re reading, I’m alright, mate. I’m not lonely. There’s no need to worry. But if you really want to help, I wouldn’t say no to a huge bundle of cash. That way I’ll always be content. You can buy happiness right?
Your belligerently, your bestest bezzie bezzer m8 eva I.D.S.T
Article first published as Facebook Thinks I’m Lonely on Technorati.