“A Facebook Dissection” and “Personification of the Publication,” March 4, 2006

excerpt2(click to enlarge)


excerpt3(it’s already enlarged, silly)

In keeping with our current fascination with 2006, these two excerpts — “A Facebook Dissection,” the back cover, and “Personification of Publication,” a small piece in Avant-Garg — both question the implications of an online presence on Facebook, in some weird time of transition between this kind of merger between offline and online contact; of course, we’re using Motorola RAZRs and no one has even heard of the iPhone for another year and a half.

At this point in time, Facebook had slowly started growing its base beyond Harvard to other colleges and universities worldwide, as well as high schools; however, it would be another six months, in September 2006, until Facebook finally opened its doors to everyone aged 13 and older. In this moment, then, Facebook has become a closed-gate haven for school-aged social lives; without the concept of Pages (late 2007), “Facebook Messenger,” (as a chat service, only integrated in 2010) and all its ephemera, clubs on campus would need to pose as people (a practice still in use by some clubs even now, an astonishing eight years later — Facebook has been a presence in some of our lives longer than most of our friends) and the concept of finding all your college friends on one single site, interacting, was becoming an increasing reality. And, well, what does it mean to have these double lives with everyone you know?

The back cover of this issue — Volume 50, issue 9 — devotes itself to a satirical breakdown of online life; every single aspect of someone’s profile does give a deeper sense of online identity, but why have this online identity at all? The fascination with the average Facebook user’s need to make a mural to themselves — er, sorry, a wall — has somehow become rare.

“Personification of Publication” adds onto this by pre-emptively guessing at our new reality: companies, clubs, and concepts interact with you with one voice, like a person; but in 2006, this jarring fact was much more transparent. Facebook and Twitter have gone to great lengths to naturalise the concept; but in 2006, when “The Gargoyle” adds you as a friend, has sexual attraction to everyone, and studies at the university, it’s far more apparent how fucking weird that is.

But hey, if the implications are fun, whatever.

Transcript:

A FACEBOOK DISSECTION: AN INTIMATE VIEW ON THE PRIVATE WORLD OF THE PERSONAL PROFILE.

I. 100 pictures: The avid Facebook user has at least one hundred or more tagged pictures
2. Peripheral Website Link: What better than to link to an external website to really convey the finer nuances of your personality.

3. Picture Albums: The avid Facebook user has at least two albums consisting of pictures from various parties / club outings / house parties / high school / etc.

4. Friends from other schools: Your avid facebook user is somewhat of a socialite. This is usually a good indication of how they’ve maintained high school relationships or through the acquaintances of friends, made new ones.

5. Groups: Groups are a must. In addition to revealing the finer details of your interest, it also allows for the meeting of random hot girls you never would have otherwise met. Now only if “Hey, you’re in that Facebook group” was a socially acceptable conversation topic.

6. Wall Posts: The number of posts on your wall not only reinforces the legitimacy of the user’s popularity but serves also to characterize what kind of relationship he/she has with that person. Notice the lack of trucks, canoes, or other bullshit ASCII art messages on this rare example of a “clean” wall

Personification of the Publication
Matt Malone
The Gargoyle has a Facebook profile, like it is a
person. It is interested in Men and Women — the
first thing you check — and taking Toxicology and
Media Studies. You can find it at University College.

What are the implications of personifying a
publication like this? Are they fun?

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