Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is Facebook a Drug?

Perhaps you’ve heard--there is a compelling social media network out there called “Facebook”.  SO compelling, in fact, that someday they might decide to make a film about it, and devote a lot of media attention to it and its founder. If that happens, you, reader, can say you learned about it here first! The following dialogue occurred after Christian and I enjoyed the fruits of Facebook’s labors for an embarrassingly large portion of our adult lives.

Pat:  Facebook is like a drug.  

It really adds no value to my life--gives it no more meaning and enriches it none. But I find myself, like clockwork, ekeing ways to sit down and open the page, often when no one else is around so I can really get dirty with it...feel its pull and allure all to myself. I go on binges where I post dozens of updates, comment on every trivial post I see and make friends with long-gone associates. A Facebook bender, I guess you’d call it.

And then I quit. For awhile. Satiated or burnt-out, I’m not sure which. But done.

Until that urge pokes back up, and I feel the need to see if I have been commented on, or if anyone wants to be my friend, or if I need to change my political views in my profile.

And then it starts all over.

I’m also not sure what it means that sometimes my wife and I use Facebook to chat with one another. While we’re sitting next to each other on the couch. I think that’s like drugs too.

Christian:  So are you saying Facebook is good thing or a bad thing? Because what I’m reading here is that it’s allowed you to get in contact with old friends and has helped you and your wife communicate more. All while giving you some of the positive effects of drugs without having to deal with the chapped lips and involuntary comas.

Pat:  I just started laughing out loud a little because I mis-read what you wrote and visualized “involuntary commas”--little grammatical imps that place themselves in your writing against your will. That would be funny.

See...I’ve been on Facebook for awhile, so that’s the drug-like impact it has on my thinking. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but it doesn’t seem to be making me smarter. Beyond the concepts of “good” and “bad”, I simply posit that Facebook is a powerful force, one which should not be approached lightly. Maybe a little disclaimer on the log-in page could be added, something that warns users of the impending time-suck they will indubitably encounter.

Yeah, as you note the immediate effects it has had on my life seem pretty positive overall. The skeptic in me, though, thinks the negative effects have yet to be seen, and may not be seen for some time, but when they ARE seen it will be unmistakable and it will be very very bad.

I just laughed again because, re-reading your statement above, correctly this time, I imagined someone voluntarily slipping into a coma. That’s funny too. Ooh...I just got chatted. Gotta’ go!

Christian: So when you talk about future unforeseen negative effects, are you thinking like diabetes or something? Or is it more in the theme of a societal collapse? Should I be putting more Butterfingers in my emergency survival kit? I’m scared. Please elaborate.

Pat:  Hmm...that’s a good question. I hadn’t thought it out that far. I guess my fear is that I’ll find myself at age 50, sitting in a nicely apportioned home (I don’t think Facebook will turn me into one of those people with half-eaten open cans of food laying all over, and afghans strewn about the living room) chatting with all of my Facebook friends. Sounds fine, right? But at longer look one begins to notice that I never have any actual social interactions. I never TALK to anyone in a way that employs my vocal chords. In fact, my vocal chords may have completely melted. When my wife tries talking to me, or maybe grumbling to me if her vocal chords have melted too, you might notice me shuddering, unsure and unaware of what the “thing” in front of me is, as I have completely forgotten that people exist in forms other than on-line entities or avatars. In that sense, the daily delivery of mail, or the task of retrieving groceries, becomes nightmarish.

So yes, I suppose that if you take this scenario to it’s full extent, and assume that other Facebook users experience the same extreme reaction that I do, we’re talking full-scale disintegration of the social order. Zombies will surely follow. Facebook zombies, who have no friends because they eat them.

Christian: Too much time on Facebook will lead to friendless zombies attacking. Got it.  

But if we are to be attacked by zombies, wouldn’t friendless zombies be the pie-in-the-sky scenario? Everyone knows that zombies are only dangerous when there are a lot of them gathered together. But thanks to Facebook, these socially awkward zombies will want to stay well clear of any social gatherings. Human interaction, whether it be in depth conversations or feasting on living flesh, will be something these socially stunted zombies want to avoid. As long as we don’t “comment” on them, “like” something they say, or “poke” them, I’m guessing they won’t want anything to do with us.

I’m starting to think that if we are to have any chance at surviving this impending doom, we need society to revolve around Facebook even more than ever. Or am I missing something here?

Pat:  No. The zombies will still eat us, whether they have friends or not. It’s like non-zombie people at the grocery store. Just because we’re all there, it doesn’t mean we’re all friends. We are, however, all united in the sense that we are engaged in the same activity. Zombies are the same. They can eat us whether they’re “friends” with their fellow brain-eater or not. This is terrifying to think about. I don’t know if I can use Facebook™ anymore.

Christian: You’re right, Facebook is evil and a plague on society and is chewing away at the fabric of everything that is holy. Speaking of Facebook, I would like to remind all of our readers that we have a Facebook fan page! We would love it if you headed over there and “liked” us if you haven’t done so already (there’s a link over to the right for your convenience). You’ll get announcement of new posts and other great updates! Facebook is so amazing at making it easy for us all to stay connected.   

Pat:  Guess what??  I just “poked” somebody for the first time the other day! In addition to feeling a bit kinky and risqué, it helped me solve a dilemma! If, in the face of a zombie-filled post-apocalyptic Facebook-caused demise of society, we use the “poke” feature to tell the difference between human “friends” and zombie “friends” there may be hope for us!

See...I poked this guy who I always kinda’ suspected of being undead. He doesn’t talk much, but when he does, it’s usually about how much he likes meat. And he tends to eat with his mouth open a lot. I poked him to see if he would respond...AND HE DIDN’T (yet)! I’m pretty sure that means he’s not one of us. Something tells me that zombies would not think to poke us back. They would just come over and eat us.

THEREFORE, should the above scenario come to fruition, feel free to use “poke” to save yourself, and those you love or even “like”, from falling into a Facebook zombie trap!  

You’re welcome.


  1. I think that the people at the supermarket are zombies. They walk around aimlessly, leave their mouths open, smell really bad and grunt unintelligibly. Oh, and I saw one eating a cat. I think I might start poking them with sticks. I'll need to start bring a shotgun with me to the store too. I think that once I've angered them I'll need to protect myself.

    Also, I personally think that poking is pretty personal. In fact I only poke one person and we've poked in real life. Just sayin'.

  2. I think "none" might be a zombie.

  3. What, exactly, does it mean to "poke" someone, megiweg? I did it, but I must admit that, even though it was done in jest, I felt like I might be violating the person in some subtle or not-so-subtle way. Are people harmed in the act of "poking" (the kind on Facebook, not the kind you mention otherwise--I know that kind of poking causes serious harm).

  4. When you say "none" what exactly do you mean? Cuz, I'm pretty sure that they are zombies that haven't been turned on to people eating yet.

    I just think poking sounds dirty. I know that FB means it in a non-dirty way, but it still seems pervy to me. To answer your question Pat, I think it means to get someone's attention electronically. It's similar to using a laser, but less burny.

  5. Too bad you too aren't in LA...we just did a story on NBC4 LA about how addicting social networking is. Of course we didn't offer any solutions...we're local news...

  6. @ TallBoy- is local news more about problems?