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Underside - Life According To Facebook

Author: Jenny Robertson
Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Facebook has taught me a lot about the human psyche... mainly that we are the same vain, insecure little puppies we were back in year eight who decorated our school diaries with shit to make ourselves look cool. With the advent of Facebook the means of ego-stroking may have changed but the ego itself has remained the same. What you chose to brag about on Facebook says a lot about you and don’t for a second think I haven’t pinned down your particular form of online narcissism!

The most common Facebook boast is the “I’m Really Hot” one. Making your profile page a shrine to your god-like physical form is a favourite with former high-school dorks. Of course, when the popular people from school befriend you on Facebook years later, you want to make damn sure they know you’re a fucking supermodel now.  Okay, so once you were a skinny, gap-toothed chess club member and they had big tits and athletic calves but now, as you secretly scroll through their online photo albums, you can breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve gone and done a Britney*. Ha, suck shit, you think as you upload photos of yourself in a bikini. You never invited me to one of your parties back in high school but now you’re a tub of lard and I’m goddamn Kate Moss. This type of boasting requires a lot of posed to look un-posed photos and you can sometimes strain your arms taking self-portraits intended to look like ‘candid’ shots. People will try and get away with this blatant exhibitionism by claiming it’s all in jest and they’re making fun of themselves. They’ll put in witty, self-aware captions like, “male model pose”, “silly cleavage shot” and “me with my guns out, lols”. Who are you kidding- We all know you spent the entire weekend holed up in your bedroom experimenting with backlighting and red lipstick.

Another common Facebook boast is the “Look How Hard-Core My Overseas Travelling Life Is”. This one can get mighty tiresome very quickly as news feeds roll in with these travel junkies’ updates on trekking through the Himalayas, building playgrounds for underprivileged children with harelips in Guatemala and how they found inner peace at an Iranian Tesco Metro. Sometimes it seems like these self-righteous wanderers are trying to rub it in that you’re not over there having a wild time as well. It forces you to leave little comments on their photos like, “wow, it’s so adventurous of you to travel to Morocco in order to experience a bohemian lifestyle. How are your mum and dad who live over in Mosman doing- You know, the ones who are funding this super-brave and independent gap year jaunt you’re on...”

Guys often like to load their Facebook pages with photographic proof of their crazy drink and drug-fuelled lifestyles. Other people feel the need to brag about how many music festivals they plan to attend. Honestly, I don’t care whether you are going to Splendour, Falls or Parklife, you just go and enjoy that wicked case of crotch-rot you’re going to get from those high-waisted denim shorts, you unoriginal bore! If Facebook was around during Nazi Germany, these same people would be driving us insane with redundant status updates like, “Josef is super pumped about seeing Hitler Youth at the Nuremberg Rallies this weekend!”
Speaking of unoriginality, is your favourite movie really Lost in Translation- Have you really read War and Peace- It’s very long, you know.

As people get older they start to boast about different things on Facebook. They finally fill in the work info section and embroider their job descriptions so much they end up sounding like they’re the Secretary General of the UN. Some traditionalists will derive their sense of self-worth by making sure everyone on Facebook knows they’ve got a Significant Other or better yet, a “wonderful hubby and two adorable children.” Vomit.

A particular favourite amongst my set of friends is seeing how glib and sarcastic you can be with your personal details on Facebook. Don’t be fooled, this is narcissism too—a sort of smirky, self-congratulatory irreverence.

What interests me are the unintentional revelations made via Facebook—the stories of heartbreak told through changes to people’s “relationship status”. When a couple breaks up the dumpee will quickly change their status to single (they’re out to get some fresh action) while the dumped will cling desperately to the hilarious “it’s complicated” line. It’s not complicated, you got dumped, yo.

What is to be learned from this study of human frailty- Well, maybe that we should care a little less what other people think of us. We might have the time then to actually get a job with the UN or read War and Peace instead of being forced to embellish elements of our lives on social networking sites. Oh, and never trust a person with five hundred Facebook friends. They’re obviously a fucking sicko. 

*Stacking on the weight due to the false confidence of having been a hottie when younger.

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