That social website

Facebook

So the missus and I were on holiday recently. Picture the scene: an idyllic tropical paradise in Sri Lanka. In a rare bout of rash expenditure that had my wallet begging for mercy, it was decided (and by that I mean my wife decided) that we splash out on a luxury hotel for our last few days away. Situated mere feet from the beach, the waves crashed over the rocks, sending moonlit forks of foamy water high into the air where they were dissolved into a fine mist. The sky was clear and the stars shone as tiny pinpricks of light. My excellent meal was happily digesting and in the distance the sea mixed with the sky in an inky blackness that made it impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. Across the table my wife looked more beautiful than ever. We held hands, our minds entwined as one on such a perfect evening. It required the most perfect of feelings to be expressed and as my wife gently unclasped her hand from mine and leaned in to me, I anticipated that she felt the same and was about to convey it. She smiled and uttered those words all of us utter to a loved one sooner or later. She said…

‘Let’s check us in on Facebook.’

Now I realise I’m on dodgy ground whinging about an international institution (Facebook I mean not marriage- equally as dodgy but that comes later) But come on! Don’t get me wrong I’m a user myself but I have some serious reservations as to its appropriate use. For a start, the most important thing to remember is that men and women use it for different things. Women use it to stay in touch, to update their friends and to share and support each other. Men use it to call their mates a dickhead. Think I’m wrong?

Lets consider either a man or a woman posting a picture of something innocuous- say a dog looking happily up at the camera. The woman will instantly receive validation of such a cute picture from her friends. ‘So cute’- smiley face. Or ‘I want one’. Or ‘he’s booooootiful’.

Fair enough, I’m sure he is. Unfortunately any man stupid enough to post something quite so innocent I guarantee will receive the first comment from his friends as…

‘Did you shag it?’

Facebook is simply a continuation of pub etiquette. Men don’t generally greet friends at the bar with a ‘hello’ so often as an ‘A’wight wanker!’  It’s just not in our DNA to be nice to one another, at least not overtly. Any picture put on Facebook will have our male ‘friends’ clambering to outdo each other posting the most offensive comment. If it’s witty that’s a bonus but we’re never not going to let that get in the way of a decent roasting.

There are caveats. Men posting pictures of themselves with their children will have friends hovering over the ‘post’ button cursing the fact that such a witty but blatantly inappropriate comment will never be heard. But usually common sense prevails. Not because we’re worried about offending our friend but because we’re worried about offending the wife of said friend, which in turn will put you in the dog house with your other half. Let us not forget Facebook is a deeply incestuous community. Whatever you put will always make its way to someone you didn’t want it to.

But even joining Facebook is fraught with danger. For a start you don’t have to comment on peoples pictures to run the risk of offending someone. It all begins with the dreaded ‘friend request’. Again the rules are different for men and women. If you’re a woman, receiving a request from anyone will immediately be balanced with how well you know that person, if they can be trusted to know your personal details, or if they might be a friend of a friend that somehow will benefit you in the gossip stakes or more importantly the potential to bitch smugly about how fat they look in their wedding dress/bikini/profile picture.

On the other hand, men are actually slightly more selective and will only accept those who they have at least a passing acquaintance with. Unless of course they’ve got big tits and in that case all friends requested are accepted under the lightest association. A refusal on either part however is risky because a Friend ‘decline’ has become one of the biggest slaps in the face of the modern age. Clearly you have nothing to gain from being friends with some person you worked with ten years ago, and is a bit odd, and you always suspected was a closet cross dresser But if there’s even a chance you may see them at work again, having delivered a Facebook fuck off tablet, you must live in fear of that awkward moment. If this happens then the default position is to blame technology-

You’re on Facebook? I had no idea. You know you’re the third person whose said they’ve contacted me- I think I’m having problems with my page. Anyway how are you? Long time no see’.

This situation is magnified of course when your number of friends exceeds something beyond the number of atoms in the universe and you realise you have to have a Facebook cull. Following that your only option is to leave the country.

The other side of the coin is making a request yourself. Even though you’ve rejected many people who’ve had the temerity to consider you a friend, when you realise others have been equally blunt to you it’s hard not to take it personally. ‘Snooty cow/wanker’ you think to yourself and immediately try to access their photos anyway in the hope of finding one so unflattering as to confirm your low opinion of them.

A personal bugbear of mine is being invited to play games or join groups. Let me state for the record I have no interest in playing Jellybelly farm or whatever ridiculous name it’s called but I appreciate each to their own. For the life of me however I don’t understand why it is necessary to update others when you play it.

‘Lisa just bought two magic dragons that fart lemon tasting diamonds’ or ‘Ronald suggests you like boyband The Diesel shifters’. To which I would like to make my own suggestion to Ronald. A more sinister posting is one that states to those who read but don’t re-post will have bad luck for the rest of the year. Facebook was bad enough without turning it into the technological equivalent of gypsies trying to sell you lucky heather. At least some satisfaction can be derived from those who try to emotionally blackmail their friends by stating ninety percent won’t care enough to re-post some deeply personal cause. I’ve no problem with using Facebook to further worthwhile causes but when there are those who threaten to de-friend you because you don’t feel the same, I only wish they’d carry out their threat so I have less to do during my cull.

And on that note, I notice reading through what I’ve just written that my wife’s habit of updating what we’re up to isn’t the worst thing she could be doing on Facebook. Apart from being awfully considerate enough to update any potential burglars that it’s open season at our house whilst we’re away, on reflection I guess it can’t do any harm.

Now please re-post this blog or may a thousand diamond farting dragons visit upon you.