Proper Facebook Etiquette

#712 Kiss and tell confessions

Monday 19th January, 2009

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‘Wedding cancelled’, ‘new baby’, ‘mum’s affair with toy boy’ are just some of the Status Updates that my friends have revealed recently on Facebook. Are these too much revealation or not enough?

There’s something wonderfully engaging about the newsfeeds on Facebook. Not so much in your face as about ‘your face’ – or rather your Facebook related networks. And when a tantalising piece of news emerges from the reams of updates it can erupt, launched as a ‘new discovery’ or expose worthy of Heat of the National Enquier. ‘My son’s an Alien’, ‘Dumped Jen’s dating again’ and ‘Cruise’s latest closet lock-in’ pale into insignificance as births, marriages and social incidences take on captivating effect. Enough to make a girl smile on a windy, wet and torrid Monday morning.

A friend of mine, good at acquiring new ‘friends’, has in the space of six months had updates that made mention of Jude Law, Tom Cruise and Lily Allen. On the one hand it was surreal the level of expose’ she gave and, on the other, there was a strangely addictive element to watching her gripping and self-consciously indulgent updates.

Of course not everyone can name drop to the extent my friend can. It helps that she’s in ‘the fame game business’ so Leonardo DiCaprio ‘popping up’ is all in a successful days work. What is interesting is the unselfconsciously attune-ment and attention I gave to her updates. Her life, so much more interesting than mine? Here the apparent social gulf between the inconsequential (although not entirely uninteresting) updates of ‘baby joy’, ‘tenth cup o tea’ and ‘off to Tesco’ fade into the background against the extravagance of a showbiz massive ‘sitting next to Henry Holland, his trainers are cool’.

Should one be overwhelmed by such name-dropping or merely sink into the underwhelm of one’s own ‘anxiously waiting for my date’ snippets of social news. Perhaps I could invent the same form of social intensity that would sit more adequately side-to-side with my friends fluent all-about-somebody’s updates.

Last time we went for lunch I managed to stumble across a client of hers (just leaving) that left me flummoxed, flustered and a tad pink in the cheeks. We joked that it was a good thing Facebook enabled me to watch her life from afar, as up close I either faltered to the point of annoyance (sat in agogged slience – picture a goldfish out of water) or over played my ‘too cool for school’ hand (ice queen – nonchalence gazing into the distance). Luckily for my friend ‘stuff like that happens all the time’. Why, I asked, where life for her is an everyday mesh of all the best bits from Heat and The Enquirer did she bother with Facebook? – ‘ Because it’s the first chance I’ve had to express myself in my own way to my friends – how else would my mother know what I was doing day-to-day?’

My friends naturalness is a refreshing mix of unshowy, showy-offness, matched by the same social playfulness other friends and myself broadcast across Facebook. Whilst not amongst the fame elite, even the incidental ‘cats eaten my breakfast muffin’ newsfeed snippet offers insight into life and everyday living. Of course when you learn the cats owned by a ‘someone’ off ‘celebrity’ Big Brother things do become a teasingly amount more interesting… but only for a moment.

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