Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, it is a contest. And yes, you've lost.

I can't remember any more why I ever bothered signing up for a MySpace account, but I did. I do feel a degree of shame admitting it, but it's the truth. I had a MySpace account.

I probably only ever visited the site a dozen times, and more than half of those times were to receive friend-invites from strippers and people who existed only to be advertisements for online sex sites. Which was fine, I guess. I had no problems calling strippers my virtual friends. Come to think of it, I wouldn't have any problem calling strippers my virtual friends. I just don't get to meet a lot of them in my day to day life.

But outside of those few times I needed to drop by to accept friend requests from people I didn't know, there wasn't really much point in ever going to MySpace. At its most basic, the core users seemed to basically use the site as an online popularity contest. To prove just how awesome they were by having hundreds or thousands of "friends" -- with many of them, quite often, people they've never actually met.

So my response was, pretty much, "This is fucking lame."

Then along comes Facebook. And it's pretty much the same thing, except it doesn't look quite as disturbingly horrible as most MySpace pages, and unlike MySpace, it seems to actually be designed so that you can keep up on the lives of your friends. So, quite unlike MySpace, it actually seems to be, you know, useful.

Then, of course, Face book released their API, allowing third parties to design applications for use within its pages. And suddenly everyone's excited, because the possibilities of what you could do with the site are now limited only by the imaginations of the people who were working with the API.

But then something sort of sad happened.

Suddenly, a whole bunch of the people who were designing these apps started building apps that were, essentially, popularity contests.

Here's an example.

I recently noticed a "Buy and Sell You Friends" application on the facebook page of one of my friends, and I thought, "Hey, that seems sort of cool." So I installed it, and one of my friends ended up buying me, and then I bought a few friends, and thought, "Yeah, this is spiffy."

And then the friends I bought were promptly bought away by me. And then no one else bought me. And then I realized that the whole point of the application was to inflate your ego by watching as your other friends fought to possess you. But if no one gave enough of a shit about you to try to make that purchase, you just felt like a fucking loser.

Which is what I felt like.

And it's not just that one. There are "Do you want to kiss me?" applications and "Would you do me?" applications and "Am I not the most awesomest person you've ever known?" applications, and they're all there for same reason. Ego self-inflation.

And I just don't see how you can win with those.

If the application says that you're a fucking loser, then you're going to feel like a fucking loser. And if you ever realize that you're relying on a retarded online facebook application to make yourself feel like a more vital part of society, you're also probably going to feel like a loser. Because you probably are.

So instead of keeping the application installed to remind myself of how big a loser I was, I removed it, and made the decision to boycott anything that even remotely resembled a "Popularity Contest" app. Because they're just fucking depressing.

But the bigger problem for me still persists. I'm fairly sure that there are people around who like me (I can't be 100% sure, but I have it on fairly good authority that there are at least a few) and yet, somehow, I just don't inspire a passionate degree of interest. People like me, but at the same time, they don't really seem to notice a whole heck of a lot if I'm alive.

Which is also depressing.

I'm just not sure *why* this is. Is it that I'm likeable, but mostly in the background? Is it because I'm not constantly pushing myself into the front of people's consciousness? I feel like an average cheddar -- appealing enough to snack on from time to time, but nothing you'd ever go out of your way to track down.

And the worst part of it is that, until I had this Facebook experience, I didn't even really give a shit about whether or not people gave a shit about me. It wasn't worth even a moment's thought. And technically, it's *still* not worth a moment's thought. But now that I've thought it, I can't stop.

I can't stop wondering, "What the fuck is wrong with me? Why don't people give that much of a shit?"

But I also wonder, "Would I even want them to? Would I feel better if they did? Or would I just feel like they were invading my life?"

I probably *wouldn't* want them to. But that doesn't stop me from wanting them too anyway.

Thanks Facebook. You fucking bastard.

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