On Nov. 24, I signed up and received a Thefacebook account. I know that since July you’ve been logging on three times a day to check for “pokes,” reading inane updates to your group’s message board, and have found the number of that girl in your sociology class who sits three seats up from you. But I’m always the last one to know things, and I don’t mind.
After filling out the essential contact info — I left the phone number out, ladies — and stealing a few half-assed quotes from “SNL,” I went out hunting for friends. Where to start? Roommates, obviously. I figured if they rejected me, I could always walk down the hall, demonstrate my WWF abilities, and kick their respective asses into submission.
A quick search located one of them, who registered only days earlier. I was happy to learn that he posted our address and his phone number on his page. Apparently my identity has been semi-compromised. And my roommate would make a shitty, shitty spy.
I was bored. I was, and still am, a novice at this thing. My mouse hovered over the “Poke Him!” button and I clicked. Question: Why use the word “poking”? I just wanted to say hi and inform my friend I’m alive. Writing a message takes too much effort. Oh, here are two more. Does a “poke” indicate that you’re interested? Is it kosher to “poke” a girl if we share a mutual appreciation for Modest Mouse and Interpol?
Hours later, my roommate instant messages me that Thefacebook sent him a text message about the “poke.” He wrote, “I was at a club. Then you poked me, weird.”
Dude. Totally weird — yes, I still say “totally,” I am in the 818 Represent Club.
I thought I was just sending him a cheap version of an e-mail and wouldn’t get a response until the next morning. Instead, he immediately gets assaulted from a Web site while doing “the sprinkler” in a sweaty club in San Diego.
I can’t help but feeling that the lines between the online and real world are becoming more and more blurred. With every technological leap in communication the wizards at Harvard and MIT make, a bit of our organic, private life ebbs away. We need to be connected and feel helpless when we’re not. Our basic human desire for affection and attachment must now occur not only in the tangible, physical sense, but also in the virtual, electronic one. We expand our Buddy Lists, add new acquaintances on Friendster, and transfer phonebook directories from old to new cell phones because it’s exciting, but more importantly, it’s necessary.
On the way home last Wednesday, I experienced a semi panic attack in my cousin’s car when I realized I forgot my cell phone in I.V. I’m generally introverted, but not having the ability to reach my friends made me feel isolated and somehow further away from them, even though nothing had actually changed. I’ve been editing my Thefacebook page furiously, yet with each keystroke, I have a genuine desire to erase the whole thing and terminate its, and now my, virtual existence.
But I can’t.
First: because it’s mine. I’ve grown attached to a Web page all about me. Losing the page would be like losing a part of myself. My mom, a psychotherapist, would kill me if she thought I was suicidal. Second: everyone else has one, which forces me to maintain my own. It’s not peer pressure, though. It’s for the connection.
Aaron Small is a senior global studies major.