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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

MySpaz and F*c*book

And it's happened again.

As ever, I got sucked into excitement of another internet trend, about two years behind everyone else, and one year eleven months after everyone else already got bored with it. I hopped on board Facebook as willingly as I hopped on board MySpace - that is to say, with great trepidation and not a whiff of enthusiasm. What's the point, I asked everyone? What do you gain from it?

Well, they explain patiently. you can get whatever you like out of it.

And I think that's where both the nub and the heart of the problem lie (if indeed you can have both a nub and a heart in the same location - I'm not sure you can. If you do, you should probably have that checked by your GP). I don't really put anything in to any of these things. For example, I never once used MySpace to find new music. Or old music. Or any music. I hated going to other people's profile pages, and finding that they had put a song on it. The song choices of other people irritate me. Sometimes, it even angers me. I know that people use these songs on their profile pages to let the readers know what kind of kerrazy, kooky, interesting, thoughtful or intelligent being they are. But, to a man, all I gain from the opening bars of every single song - before I rush up to pause the tune - is a shudder of irritation. Even if I would normally adore the song.

I just used MySpace as a kind of reminder that I wasn't keeping up with anything. I continued to miss people's birthdays, but now I was reminded that I had forgotten them, and what's more, I no longer had an excuse. Now I was also constantly reminded of all the gigs I wasn't attending, the events that I could have enjoyed but I haven't, the people I could be meeting up with but I'm not.

I thought Facebook might be better, but this time round I had already learned from the mistakes I made on MySpace. For a start, I signed up as myself, not as Shazzle, and I decided quite early in that I would only include as friends the people that I actually knew in real life, those people who, if I saw them on the bus, I would actually like for them to sit down beside me because we would actually have something to talk about, rather than those people that you kind of know, or that you used to know, or those people that used to talk to you when they thought you were important (i.e. when I used to write for newspapers) but now that you're not important (i.e. now that I'm one of the unwashed general public) they don't really know what to say.

(Honestly, it's like I've contracted some kind of social disease in the last three years. The comedians who have literally crossed an entire room to come say hi to me and offer me a drink three years ago, now look through me as if I'm wearing a massive sign that says NOTHING TO SEE HERE.)

But I hadn't considered the awful, constant stream of friends-of-friends who, seeing you in the list of their friend's friends try to add you as a friend of their own. I hate that more than anything else about these social networking sites, the fact that numbers of "friends" are counted as if they represent the size of your penis. I particularly don't understand that on Facebook, when you're already drowning under the number of fatuous pieces of information you're constantly being thrown about what your friends are up to at any given moment.

- Sally and Mary and Fiona and Nikki are all friends.
- Damon has joined the group "Look at me! I'm fucking hilarious!"
- Felicity has thrown a shit at your head! Throw a shit back at Felicity!
- Gina is organising a High School Massacre. Will you be attending?

Seriously. The only two reasons I am still on Facebook are the joy of seeing other people's holiday photos (no, seriously, I really love it. Today I saw the photos taken by my sister's gay boyfriend of their holiday in Spain and I stared at them for about 10 minutes). The other thing I love is the status update section. I never thought I'd need to know how many cups of coffee my cousin's wife has had today, or the fact that almost everyone I know, on a Friday morning, is looking forward to the weekend with a desperation that threatens to break my heart everytime I see a new update.

Other than that, I don't know why I'm still doing it. Too many parts of it baffle me. I'm not able to look at anyone else's home pages on Facebook, because people don't look after them properly. The constant addition of new applications that they never subsequently move means that their home pages are so cluttered with rubbish that you can't find their fucking wall and all you wanted to say was Happy Birthday, but by the time you have scrolled down past the fucking vampires and the fucking Harry Potter spells and the pillow fights and the fucking fish bowls, you're so angry you can't think of anything nice to say.

And please. Stop poking me.


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