The other day while getting my daily cyber crack fix on the social networking demon they call Facebook, I realized that I was balls deep in a photo album of someone I’ve never met. Ten years ago, that would’ve been considering stalking or invasion of privacy, today it’s called “social networking.” When I first discovered the Internet, I traded in my jump rope for AOL messaging and creepy chat rooms. Unbeknownst to me, this new technology gave computer literate pedophiles from around the world access to an unregulated congregation of prey—a fenceless petting zoo of naïve lambs holding keyboards. Kids didn’t understand the use for this new technology, other than chatting with schoolmates and when that became as entertaining as planting legal herbs, stumbling upon unrestricted nudey pics galore. A site emerged where one could post pictures of oneself in real life, real-life friends could become cyber friends and could comment on how pretty you look in that picture… compared to how sweaty you looked today in gym class. This MySpace site even provided surveys where hormonal thirteen year olds could post cheeky responses like, favorite clothing: your mom’s spandex pants; unsubtle sexual references, bikini or thong: I go commando **wink face**; or overly dramatic emo rants, favorite hobby: picking up the shattered shards of my broken heart and piecing them together to form a collage of your face. Looking back at things I shared during the MySpace Tween years, I empathize with cyber bullies and possess more bathroom mirror pictures than I’m willing to admit.
With the quick blink of a robotic eye MySpace became a black hole in cyberspace, devoured by social networking giant Facebook. Older members of the tech generation gladly transitioned to the new “it” site quicker than JT said BYEBYEBYE to the NStink nerd squad when he realized he was much too attractive and talented for the likes of Joey, JC, Lance and that unnecessary nameless guy with dreds. Today, much of life is experienced via Facebook, putting everything out there for your peepz to see. If your boyfriend breaks up with you for some slut with a speech impediment, you put on that Victorias Secret fake boobjob bra and commence a solo photo shoot. Never mind that you’re wearing a brassiere that homicide investigators could use to shield bullets to the chest and enough face makeup to transform Snoop Dogg into an attractive white woman, you need a new completely obvious profile picture and a few **lovin life-livin’ free-laughin lots** statuses to show you’re like totes happy alone. The fact that in reality you resemble a pitiful version of Tyler Perry dressed in drag is absolutely irrelevant because in some barely visible Internet photo you appear attractive enough to drunkenly fondle. Facebook has become as much a part of every day life as breathing. And I collectively spend more time stalking images of people I maayyyyy know on Facebook than I do grooming.
Sometimes while browsing The Book, I get the strange sensation that something I’m reading wasn’t meant for my eyes. Like I somehow hacked into the restricted section where Shavon and Hugo publically hash out every latent issue of their dysfunctional relationship. Or where Crystal the awkward girl from elementary school—nicknamed Mosquito—muploads photos of her recent funbags purchase and brags about the perks of employment at Hooters (clearly their impressive medical benefits). I find myself looking away and quickly glancing back to confirm that this piece of extremely personal information is something one felt vital to post for public viewing and not a how-to site on tasteless social media etiquette. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I was under the impression social networking sites were designed for, I don’t know, say, networking? Social updates. Connections to old friends. Not deeply personal posts on your boyfriend’s wall about draining the hot tub after the steamy date you shared last night. Or creepy statuses about the “scratch marks” on your back from the random girl you brought home last night. Instead of sharing useless (and extremely disturbing) bits of information in the futile hope that someone will comment or like details of your mundane existence, practice the art of privacy. Before checking-in at McDonald’s, ask yourself: does anyone actually give a shit that I’m wolfing a Big Mac? And if the answer is anything other than people will die without this information, think twice about posting.
Do I know anything about the stock market? Absolutely not. Am I senior VP of the stalk market? Since 2008. I can’t speak for the rest of you mushy brains, but the excitement of stalking my actual friends’ cyber lives wore off about three years ago. But that random girl with three fairy ankle tats, a toddler and a constant hankering for undersized clothes who “went to my high school” and constantly updates inappropriate photos of herself tongue deep in some cholo’s greasy face…. Yeah I’ll refresh her page til my finger goes numb. I relish in receiving friend requests from that kid I went to elementary school with who’s somehow mastered the art of Ebonics in the ten years since the playing Joseph in the 2nd grade Christmas pageant. He’s legally changed his name from William or James to something like AK 47 Fully Automatic or Ghost Ryda and frequently gripes about the hataz, hoez and niggaz he interacts with daily. When in reality he lives at home and works part-time at UPS—undoubtedly when he’s not busy slinging dime bags of the dried-up pot hidden in his underwear drawer to pre-pubescent future dropouts at the local public middle schools.
I find my own life so much more fulfilling after diving face-first into 300 of Debbie Dropout’s photos, the majority of which depict her g-string smiling while she seduces the lucky cameraman with a subtle tongue through the dirty peace sign. I feel much better about skipping the gym when I realize she’s gained about 30 lbs since 8th grade, yet her clothing size remains miraculously unchanged, despite protests from the second set of DD breasts hanging over the back of her Abercrombie kids camisole. I often wonder if Abercrombie gives free shirts to heavier females to test the “our shirts stretch substantially beyond the infant size they appear” policy.
On the other end of the spectrum, Facebook fosters the embellishing of the excitement, glamour and perfection of one’s life. People can create completely different identities on these sites, with a newfound sense of courage resulting from the buffer between the keyboard and the faceless person on the other side. Photos are doctored, sarcasm discovered and every dingleberry’s got a cyber set of brass balls. It’s interesting to interact with someone you’ve only had a relationship with via the internet. You think someone is funny because of the witty posts he or she shares, we find someone intolerable because they insist upon sharing 73388382 links about PETA, or you assume that kid blowing up the newsfeed depressing Dashboard Confessional lyrics must suffer from giant bleeding vagina syndrome. Nevertheless, you meet these people outside cyber life and the ‘funny’ girl doesn’t speak, the animal rights activist deep throats ball parks at baseball games and the whiney puswah tells hilarious/totally racist jokes. Basically these sites generate enormous piles of glittery bullshit. And because we can’t smell or step in it, this type of bullshit can take on many forms—like a shapeshifter—but at the end of the day it’s still a steamy pile of poo… just one that’s been photoshopped to look like a shiny black moon rock.
The lost life hours I’ve spent voraciously feeding on the lives of cyber friends, have convinced me to release myself from the angry grasp of the Faceybook for a while and attempt to foster actual human relationships. So far, it’s pretty strange. It’s already harder to keep in touch with people because I’m forced to go beyond typing a quick wall post and hitting the ENTER button. Normally, if I accompanied friends on a night out, evidence of my escapades would surface via tagged status updates, photo uploads and next-day wall posts recounting the night’s antics. Sadly often times if there exists no photo documentation, it seems as if the night never occurred. Because everyone knows, if a tree falls in the hood and nobody hears it… it’s probably because of the drive-by across the street. I think that’s the saying. Or maybe that’s just what Mike Epps would say.