Eva Bradley: In the stratosphere of uncool


We all know that Facebook is a black hole, a dark vortex that sucks in time along with common sense, privacy and respect for friends we once thought were cool.

Oft have I found myself approaching deadline and instead of opening a Word document and beginning my column, my fingers will - without prompting, as if in some hypnotic trance over which I have no control - find themselves floating to the keyboard and tapping out those fateful 16 characters that have been the death knell for productivity across the developed world: www.facebook.com.

Today was no different. Initially.

Then, after typing in the web address, it was really, really, really different.

In a world-leading move, New Zealand Facebook users were the first to experience the new layout which, apart from confusing the be-jaysus out of even the most social media-savvy among us, has seen the introduction of a section where users can log and detail any and all life events. Emphasis on the "any" and the "all".

Perhaps it is because the story of my life is laid out in column inches across the country every week, but I have never felt the need to update all of my friends, both real and virtual, with blow-by-blow accounts of how I'm feeling, what I'm eating and who I'm dating.

An evening's entertainment has often centred around sniggering at status updates from dubious acquaintances as they wax lyrical in the semi-public domain about their personal feelings for their partner ("Darling Billy, I met you a year ago today you are my rock, my world, you complete me") their political rants and drunken expositions on every topic imaginable, some less appropriate than others.

I once had the dubious pleasure of briefly dating a person whose relationship status changed from single to it's complicated to married within 24 hours. None of them related to me, I might add.

But just when you thought it wasn't possible to inform people any more specifically about things they had very little interest in, in the first place, the new Facebook has arrived.

The "life events" feature has expanded the love and relationship section to dizzying new levels of uncool, allowing users to enter the manner in which their relationship started and ended from a drop-down menu, and insert a "story" to accompany the update.

Now that could make for some entertaining reading.

A health and wellness section offers more drop-down menus where users can type in a new diagnosis, a broken bone, weight loss (complete with field for entering kilos shed) and even a separate category for eating habits where one can enter the date they chose to become a vegan/fruitarian or omnivore, who they were with at the time of this decision and, of course, the "story".

I'm not sure I'd have any interest in such stories even if they involved me, let alone one of the 462 people I sort-of but in most cases don't really know on Facebook.

Fields for entering one's first word, first kiss, first job, first pet's name and everything in between (and I really do mean everything) leaves me wondering if friendships and social interaction off-line will become a thing of the past.

We are entering an age of disappointing dichotomy where we know more about the people we don't really know than those we actually do.

What we are learning in the process is that the lives of everyday people are (with the odd glittering exception that seldom makes it to a Facebook news feed anyway) exceptionally dull.

So why, then, am I so obsessed with reading about them? It's fair to say my relationship with Facebook right now is ... complicated.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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