1984 Facebook Manifesto
No one born outside of 1984, plus or minus a few years, understands the evolution of social network interaction like we do. My 20s happened to line up exactly with Facebook’s first decade. Thus I can describe to you firsthand the desperation of blocking people up and down my news feed in an effort to protect its entertainment value from the onslaught of baby pictures commemorating birthdays in six-week increments and overly detailed professions of love betraying an even mix of delusion and insecurity.
The circa 1984 generation is unique in that we remember when Facebook was fun. People older than us never knew it to be any better, and people younger have yet to see their social space implode into an indistinguishable mass of horrifically boring status updates.
This inevitably happens because as people get older, they become more secure with their identity and less concerned with image. This should be applauded for the most part, except now they tend to focus solely on themselves rather than even a little bit on the audience. I commend your confidence to not care what others think, but then why post in the first place? Because you want people to see. And if you want them to keep seeing, you should think about what they might want to see.
My fight to curate social content slipped into futility long ago. Back in my dumber days, I would berate those who caused this decline with their insatiable need to strategically broadcast very specific aspects of their lives. But I understand a little better now. People get up in the morning for different reasons. Sometimes love doesn’t feel like love, or a story doesn’t feel real, or an opinion doesn’t feel like it matters until you share it with others.
And in a way, I appreciate the effort. At least these folks try to contribute and put themselves out there rather than lurk on Facebook every day without ever wishing a happy birthday, commenting or taking a split-second to click the like button.
So instead of telling them to stop, which would defeat the purpose of Facebook, I propose they organize their annoying posts and limit them to one category per day. That way we know what to expect, find the right mindset and get through them all in rapid-fire fashion before moving on to better stimuli.
Faces are compelling. It’s called Facebook. So why are you posting so many pictures of landscapes, sunsets, scenery and tourist attractions with no people in them? In less than a second, Google Images can return thousands of these taken by professionals with much more precision and artistic flair.
We sign on to social networks to see what’s up with people, not to indulge amateur photographers. Because I am Asian, any family vacation album requires an extra memory stick for the camera and advance notice to the photo development center to reserve our own printer.
My father recently took a picture of my girlfriend and I walking through the doorway of a restaurant on the way back from the bathroom. Dad… really nothing to see here. With this kind of volume shooting ingrained into my upbringing, I can tell you when most people look through a bunch of photos, they spend the least amount of time on the scenic ones without faces in them. These are simply no fun.
Rather than show you a dozen pictures of the same vineyard on a wine-tasting trip, I would rather have you examine us on the way back in the van:
Rather than show you a picture of the view from my hotel room with some underwhelming caption and passive-aggressive attempt at bragging such as “Not a bad way to wake up,” I would rather have you examine the view we created for everybody else in the lobby:
More and more people whom I love dearly crap out kids these days. The problem is not the kids, but the fact that the pool of parents keeps growing. Your world revolves around your baby, but to the average person with 500-1000 Facebook friends, your baby is but one of many in a torrent of nondescript pictures. I do not feel comfortable logging onto a website to stare at nothing but babies. It makes me feel like a pedophile.
Aside from that, kids frighten me. In any horror movie, from “The Shining” to “The Sixth Sense”, the scariest parts involve freakish children. The more babies that pop out, the higher the chance some of them are evil.
Moreover, we can limit their social network presence to one day a week because they all pretty much look the same anyway. Admittedly I cannot say this for sure because I am afraid to make eye contact with the babies in these pictures, lest they jump out of the screen into real life.
Wedding pictures do not bother me because everyone looks so happy and polished while being of age. But status updates that read like wedding vows after dating someone for six months are obnoxious. In the old days, shouting your love from the rooftops was mildly romantic because only a select few in the vicinity could hear. In social media times, everyone hears and secretly wishes you two would break up so you will shut up.
If that happens, I reserve the right to copy your sappy essays and paste them on your wall as a friendly reminder of unrealized expectations. Then, for the sake of compassion, you should post a status update with a formal apology explaining why you misled everyone with claims of finding the person who completes you.
Love letters became obsolete in the digital era anyway. Make a sex tape instead. Number one, that would hold attention better. Number two, it would deter a lot of potential suitors if things don’t work out with your current soul mate, which shows much more faith in the future of your relationship than these monologues that sound like a middle schooler paraphrasing Shakespeare for a Valentine’s Day card.
This already exists. This is a real thing. Someone thought it a clever idea to stray from social media’s greatest strength — immediacy — in favor of posting pictures from the distant past, invariably ones in which he or she looks more attractive than normal.
No one besides your mother wants to see how you looked as a child. No one besides your on-and-off-again high school boyfriend cares how you looked when you were 19. And no one at all feels good looking at how far you have fallen. It’s depressing.
If you must participate in this circle-jerk, shoot for the opposite effect. Show us how far you’ve come and an upward trajectory still in progress. My best friend since childhood goes toe-to-toe with Nick Cannon these days on “Wild ’N Out”:
How he can step up to a microphone, with a bright light and judgmental audience burning their way into his soul, and create laughter out of nothing but quick thinking and balls of steel eludes my comprehension. This skill eludes 99.99 percent of the world, and it requires unglamorous grunt work every day. So I am always curious to see what my buddy is doing now, tomorrow, and beyond.
That goes for you, too. I do not want to imagine you propping feet up on the ottoman, turning on Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You,” and sifting through old pictures to post with the hashtag #throwbackthursday or #tbt. I want you to keep those feet on the ottoman, toss the laptop aside, rotate onto the floor and hammer out a few sets of incline push-ups.
Your epic downturn is not entirely irreversible. You do not have to wistfully search albums for proof you were once 40 pounds lighter and then exhibit the evidence like some before-and-after case study of a weight watchers program gone terribly wrong.
I believe in you. You will rise again with the right attitude. And when you do, looking back to today will be inspiring instead of deflating. Until then, leave the throwback pics to people on the upswing like my aforementioned friend who supplied this gem at age 15:
That’s what I want to see now. I want to marvel that the guy I watch on M.T.V. is the same one in this picture, looking systematically retarded with eyes resembling those of a young soldier who just died in vain on the field of battle. Forward and onward.
Who are these creatures that post cryptic sentences or phrases hinting at a significant event in their life? Does anybody know them or what they’re talking about? Usually they express happiness or sadness and purposely withhold the reason.
Are you waiting for me to ask what’s wrong? That would be terribly inefficient, like when people precede a question by asking, “Can I ask you a question?”. When, in the history of the world, has the answer ever been no? I only have the patience to play these infantile games on Fridays.
Generally if I post something confusing such as...
I will provide as much information as possible. This is me blacked out at the Palms Casino, which explains why I am holding a cup on my head while trying to seduce the camerawoman and her sister. The lighting and posture make my abdominal muscles appear defined, which explains why I am sharing it here.
If I posted a selfie flexing in the mirror, you would think I am the biggest douchebag. This way I subtly accomplish the purpose while hiding behind the illusion of acting silly.
Facebook activity ought to remain sparse on weekends. It’s more productive to spend your time on the social network at the workplace. You should be doing fun things when off the clock. And instead of posting about them, you could just... do them.
But again, I cannot fault those who share and bravely offer a piece of their lives for public consumption. I only suggest they segment the content if only to stay cognizant of their place in life relative to the rest of the world.
As we age and transition from drunk pictures to plastic smiles in unimaginative poses, keep in mind all your peers are going through the same thing. And if we continue to bury Facebook under boring post after boring post, sooner or later no one will be listening. Even Big Brother in an Orwellian 1984 would move on to more interesting things.
The only email you will get from me is one post per month for free until I die or you unsubscribe. You can also reply to that email and I will reply back, thereby making us pen pals. Occasionally when candor exceeds nerve, I hide a post from the website so only trustworthy subscribers can read it.