New piece on Geek Magazine, in which I am thoroughly confused by a “Facebook humor” book:
The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams promises to highlight all the hilarious and strange things in the world of Facebook. I was excited to read this because Facebook’s ability to connect distant friends has brought so many odd and amusing moments to my life. A cosplaying college friend recently posted photos from a con, with — unknown to her — one of my writing friends signing books at his booth in the background behind her. A few months ago, I posted about hurting my back, and got immediate responses from an ex-pat buddy now in Thailand, an old boyfriend’s new girlfriend, and a guy I worked with on a magazine that folded three years ago, all consoling me with how they sustained similar injuries but made full recoveries. Facebook connections offer endless potential for funny, odd and warm moments in my own life, and I admit to laughing at tales of Facebook gone disastrously wrong, too. Dumb criminals caught by posting photos of their loot, sick-day employees accidentally checking in from the beach, and the hilariously stupid posts on Failbook.
But the bulk of The Facebook Diet is 50 cartoons about how you might know you’re a Facebook addict. I really wanted to laugh, but I found myself cringing at the punchlines about literally writing on a friend’s wall or literally poking people. Those were amusing about eight or ten years ago, when one might conceivably speak to someone who believed writing on someone’s wall meant graffiti. Also, are people still poking on Facebook? Is that a thing? Some of the fifty jokes are the type of filler that could apply to pretty much any hobby. Your friends think you should go to a Facebook addicts support group! and Your romantic partner wishes you’d spend more time with them! are the same jokes made about hardcore videogamers, and before that, golf widows and fishing widows. I was sad to see that most of the humor hinged how much time those Facebook addicts waste socializing at the screen, instead of genuinely amusing moments that can only occur on Facebook. (Spotify sharing that guilty-pleasure mix with everyone you know, for example.)
The book goes on to characterize Facebook users as frivolous, time-wasting narcissists, and while a case might be well made against posting a photo of every sandwich ever ordered or checking in at the tollbooth on the way to work, the book is less good-natured teasing of that friend who Instagrams everything, and more of a smug assurance that we all have much better things to do than those losers with their fake socializing.
By the same author: An interview about how Facebook makes us shallow and narcissistic, taking us away from “real” communities, and a blog post on how to promote yourself online, and a Twitter hashtag (#facebookdiet) to discuss the book about getting off Facebook. I’m… confused about the main point.