Monday, July 30, 2007

It's hard to believe there's nobody out there ...

MySpace, Facebook, the internet evolves further and further along with every new connection and personalising site into what it must inevitably become: a dating tool. I know, I know, Google Scholar and all that, but really, the internet is just like mobile phones; ten years ago they were specialised equipment for only the elite and the dorky. Now your Grandma has one and nine-year-olds are coding. The more the internet democratises and reaches people who wouldn't normally use it for research or just plain porn, the more it becomes a substitute for that opiatastic thrill you get when you check your mailbox and there's a package inside with your name on it. Somebody loves you. Somebody thinks of you when you're not thinking about them = uR F4m0u5!
And that's just email.
MySpace goes a step further. For all the political gimickery, band support and cheap advertisingyourself as possible. Pictures, automatically-playing songs, videos, likes, lists of favourite TV shows, movies, musical artists, heroes, quotes and more are all options for you to spruce up or 'pimp' your page with various distasteful HTML et viola - you are a web person.
But you're not. Your web personality on MySpace is essentially a 'girl/boyfriend wanted' ad for people who aren't gutsy or horny enough to actually hit a dating website. And fair enough too. MySpace is the online equivalent of the supremely cool dude/tte who tarts themselves up for hours to go to the dance, then spends the entire time leaning against the back wall, smoking and looking thrillingly mysterious, praying that someone will talk to them. The attractive element to this little piece of awkwardness is that people
it provides, MySpace is just about making a page with as much information about do come and talk to you. Not only talk, but ask to be your friend.
"Will you be my friend?" comes the plaintive email from your new BFF.
"Agree" you click and squishy-squirt you are thrown together 4EVA. Every MySpace page has a Friends box that shows the Online Personalities of your other friends there can be hundreds or even thousands. At last! Popularity! Nerds no more!
Facebook goes a step further than that. Facebook is MySpace, but without the pimping. It still lets you create an Online Personality, but it emphasises the linking of like-minded personalities.
It all starts when someone sends you an email.
You've never heard of Facebook, but you have been invited to join. Not even to join - just to agree that you know someone you know because they are claiming to know you.
You click agree.
Suddenly - you are another Face in the Book. Then you get another email from someone you know claiming to know you. You click agree.
Your number of friends grows and every time someone you know rubs the Genie of The Six Degrees and sends you an email, the endorphin-laden rush of getting a package in the mail or getting smiled at by the most popular girl/guy in school comes flooding through your inbox.
Then you're addicted.
No, not addicted. You can stop any time you want. Right after you agree to that friend request. And add another photo.
I attempted to poo-poo Facebook when it first showed up in my inbox, I reasoned that no one would
send friend requests to someone who didn't play, didn't send out any friend requests of their own and only posted strangely ugly photos of himself. But that didn't happen. Every day since that first email showed up, another person I know sends an email asking me to confirm that I know them and politely allowing me the opportunity to close the easy-to-navigate menu that allows a trip down memory lane to where this person and I met, where we've travelled and the courses we've studied.
The friendship list has grown, along with my Online Personality. I'm now a guy who has interests, favourite music, films, books, TV shows and quotes. Everything about my, and every other Facebook Online Personality, or MySpace for that matter, reads like a Personals Ad. If I weren't a happily married man, I would have just written "Holding hands, Long Walks on the Beach at Sunset and Making Fuck" and been done with it. Because the connection is what it's all about. People I haven't seen since high school have been in touch. Scrolling other people's friends lists I've seen dozens of people I haven't thought about for literally years. The genius catch (and the dating advantage over MySpace) is that you can only look at the friends list of people who are your friends. You can't look at people separated by more than a degree, but that can all be solved with a friend invitation that, unless you
recently (and by that I mean: since that person discovered Crackbook) torched that person's house, will not be refused.
But I have discovered the flaw in Facebook and MySpace and all the the rest, mind you, not the flaw for them or the Addicts who keep their page loaded in the corner, finger twitching, ready for refresh. No one ever puts anything bad, or
real on their profiles. I'm not saying that they're lying, just that there isn't the opportunity to paint the full picture of the person behind the Profile.
I want Facebook 2.0 (whatever that turns out to be) to have alongside "Favourite Movies" and "Interests", real categories that can paint a much fuller picture than a few carefully chosen holiday snaps ever could. Categories like:
Races I can't stand
Drugs I have taken
Places I have urinated in public
Or if people just filled out their "Interests" segments more honestly, without thinking of movies that would make them seem fun or music that they hear on the radio all the time.
Favourite movies
Hard Butts 5, Debbie Does the Eastern Seaboard, Faces of Death 3

You see where I'm going with this. I apologise for the rambling, but it's late and for all my whinging, I've still got a fair bit of Harry Potter to go.

Guess the Header
Jono and River were closest with Canada. A point each for geography. But the main clue were the bins in the corner and the off-yellow lettering for the title
spoiling the gorgeous view - which was in Yosemite National Park. Better luck this week!


  1. THE HEADER: I have to say it looks like a dog has downed a tin of metamucil and done his thing. My real guess however is tree roots, representing the fact that all people want to get from myspace/facebook is a bit of wood or a root!

  2. It's so very obviously a rusty old chain. You, perhaps are the latest new link in the chain which links all the mentioned internet sites?

  3. Hi Franzy - an old chain, rusty on the foreshore - surely not of the Torrens - it looks far too clean for that?

    You've lost me on myspace and facebook - I'm a GenXer who doesn't even like her mobile phone


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32