Henry James Foy

Forget Summer Ball and the impending graduation ceremony, there is one thing that can’t come quickly enough: the Facebook cull is coming. The days of an unadulterated stream of vacuous nonsense are numbered.

Fazzy-B, as my housemate refers to it, is the ultimate addiction, and we all need some rehab. Excitement, intrigue, drama, love, loss and – of course – unmitigated voyeurism are a mere click away. It’s like an always-on episode of ‘Glee’, but with far uglier people.

A friend of mine remarked this week that without Facebook, she never would have known of the YUSU by-elections. Campus democracy aside, my social calendar would be positively bare without FB’s trusty events. Imagine my dismay, for example, if I had missed ‘Menstruation: A blessing or a curse’, in virtue of not logging in? Bloody nightmare.

Some final years, before sending a plethora of Graduate Scheme applications, battened down the hatches of their profile privacy, concealing photos of themselves dressed as cavewomen or strawpedoing bottles of Sauv Blanc from the eyes of would-be employees.

As Mark Zuckerburg transformed from social networking God to data-stealing scoundrel, City monkeys in the making made the tough choice to hide photos of their exposed genitals while sacrificing their ability to be searched by the hot fresher they met in Ziggys.

Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Embarrassing photographs and groups named after borderline racist jokes that you probably shouldn’t have joined in the first place might hobble you at Ernst and Young’s candidate research stage, but the real danger lies after July 3rd: How are you going to give up?

Some people seem unable to exist without telling everybody exactly what that existence entails. It’s a Saussurian nightmare

Let’s not beat about the bush. You know the annoying uncle who keeps trying to add you as a friend, or the 24-year-old that you once kissed at Gallery who now spends his entire time commenting on your statuses? That’s you very soon.

A close friend of mine attemped to go cold turkey in preparation last week by shutting down his account. Did it work? No. Unable to restrain his desires, he logged in using his pet dog’s account that is friends with his housemates, and got his fix that way. He lived vicariously through A DOG. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Some people seem unable to exist without telling everyone else exactly what that existence entails. It’s like a Saussurian nightmare.

Take, for example, a friend of mine who continually posts snippets of her essay during its writing. Congratulating yourself on particularly pretentious sentence constructions aloud is acceptable, though rather socially awkward. Stating them on Facebook borders on unbearable.

How will they cope in their first job? Should I expect statuses such as ‘Writing an email: “I feel today’s meeting was catatonically constructive, and a cacophony of creative concepts were concluded”’ or ‘Went for a meeting today. Was positively Baudelarian’?

Other students at York have also embraced Foursquare with similarly regrettable aplomb: a mobile app that updates your status to tell others where you are. So-and-so is at Roger Kirk, etc. Unless your promotion plot involves a campaign to be elected Majo-Domo of the photocopier, that habit will have to be consigned to the graveyard of social networking too.

And then there’s FitFinder, that sinister yet undeniably hilarious bastard child of the Facebook generation. That has got to go too: ‘Staff Canteen (Second Floor) Female, Brunette Hair, Head of Finance in super-hot pencil skirt and a rack just begging to be let free from that blouse. I’d stuff your envelope anytime’ is only going to get you a date with a P45.

Hanging up the keyboard gloves won’t be easy. Blind to M’s meandering tales of random acquaintances, ignorant of T’s politically provocative statuses and unable to view D’s photos of her fifth night out that week, will I drift in a world of disconnectedness?

Or will I realise that the 1,200 friends that I’ve somehow accumulated over three years of University makes me unselective rather than popular, having a good night out with friends shouldn’t end with 3am photo tagging, and that ‘liking’ a status is a wholly unsuitable way to celebrate someone’s engagement?

Diary and add­ress book in hand, perhaps I’ll start that cull early.

13 comments

  1. PLEASE DON’T DELETE ME HENRY!!!

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  2. “And then there’s FitFinder, that sinister yet undeniably hilarious bastard child of the Facebook generation. That has got to go too: ‘Staff Canteen (Second Floor) Female, Brunette Hair, Head of Finance in super-hot pencil skirt and a rack just begging to be let free from that blouse. I’d stuff your envelope anytime’ is only going to get you a date with a P45.”

    You’ve still gotta try though.
    Gotta love the Fitties.

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  3. “Imagine my dismay, for example, if I had missed ‘Menstruation: A blessing or a curse’, in virtue of not logging in? Bloody nightmare.”

    Best joke ever! That should win an award.

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  4. Ironic that I found this linked through ‘Henry James Foy recommends Henry James Foy’ on Facebook…

    Perhaps by culling too steeply Foy, you risk leave your fledgling journalist career exposed by cutting yourself off from your key(/only) readership?? Perhaps.

    (ditto the bloody nightmare comment above, too)

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  5. Knowing who has offered Henry a job, I don\’t think he\’ll be needing FB to reach a readership!!

    My fave column so far

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  6. I was spurred on to do my cull early by a bet. “I bet you can’t get your friends down to 300.”
    That faithful competitiveness resulted in a “You watch” and less than half as many ‘friends’.

    Excellent.

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  7. Must protest! Facebook has improved my (pop-cultural) education immeasurably!

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  8. Annoying uncle here. FB can be irritating in the extreme but it’s the best way I know of keeping up to date with what nephews, neices and far-flung friends are up to (even if I usually wish I hadn’t asked…). Good stuff.

    m

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  9. Have to admit, I thought my Facebook usage would shrink when I graduated but all that has happened is it has changed its use for me – having ditched the ‘thrice-daily commentary on my life’ purpose, it’s now a vital link between me and a combination of school, uni and work friends, all of whom are now scattered across the country. (That is also, by the way, why I will never use or believe in Twitter.)

    Although FB addict’s comment was misdirected, it had a solid foundation. So many people I know think the whole point of Facebook is to rack up as many ‘friends’ as possible; it’s vain and naive in the extreme. As for a solution, if you delete people you don’t really know, and hide those you don’t really care about, you avoid the homepage guff.

    Easy if someone takes a few minutes to get it right (which is itself a fraction of the time one would spend on FB anyway). Then again, I’d use the same argument regarding the overblown fervour about the site’s fantastically precise and transparent privacy controls.

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  10. The fervour is largely over the default privacy settings, which are too lenient and which 90% of people will never change (unless they hear about it through fervour).

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  11. 30 May ’10 at 1:56 pm

    Umberto Prosecco

    ‘It’s a Saussurian nightmare’ Really? Much as i agree with your comments on facebook statuses highlighting peoples need to be recognized, i cant help wondering if your articles only fulfill your need to show off the fact that you have read some books on semiotic analysis

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  12. Most decent LADS use facebook lists instead of culling. List 300 close LADS (or even LADETTES) and have that only show on your home feed. Diplomatic LAD.

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  13. 4 Jul ’10 at 8:18 pm

    SubversiveCookie

    Watching people’s stupid updates fills one with a vague sense of superiority. You can only get this from seeing someone has written ‘their’ when they mean ‘they’re’. Possibly writing for Nouse gives a person the same feeling.

    I wonder if you’re on Twitter?

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