I meet you. You meet me. We exchange handshakes and maybe after a while, if we become close enough friends, a kiss on the cheek. We met at a bar and have hit it off as friends. But it’s not official yet and we both know it. One day, I overcome my awkwardness and I decide to request the friendship become official. I want us to be friends on Facebook.
Facebook was one of those things that changed your life. I know I was a freshman at Providence College when it was announced that Facebook was extending its prestigious list to encompass even more schools in its the online social network. None of us knew really what Facebook was except that other schools had it and we wanted it. We would have never guessed the ripples it would send through our social lives. When it finally arrived we all spent hours “friending” people we knew from our floor or class, or tagging pictures that we might have taken during the weekend. The friend requests were always tentative and we would let our friends know that our social clout had been raised by saying things like, “Oh Mike, you know that girl Tiffany from orientation? Yeah well she friended me on Facebook. Boom.” The pictures consistened of us doing foolish things at night usually with a solo cup in our hand or a ceremonious tilt of a Bud Light bottle. We were in college and we wanted everyone to know it. Facebook was the perfect way to revel in our own excess.
We also learned that “poking” meant, “I think you’re special enough to warrant an online gesture that is mildly sexual and flirtatious.” And while all this was going on we were heading to parties, meeting new people, exchanging information and having a blast all the while.
But once Facebook came along there came along with it a secret anxiety when we met new people. These people were great, but when you weren’t “Facebook friends” with somebody, it just didn’t feel right. Do they not care about me enough to Facebook me? This is not a real friendship I fear. But eventually we would get drunk and Facebook those who we desired or they would do the same. It was awkward but it all worked out for the best. We were all figuring it out together and that’s why it was acceptable to make mistakes. We were writing the rules as we went along.
But with Facebook came a heightened visibility for all. To sign up to Facebook and to allow your image on there, there was an understanding that you could be accessed, analyzed and admired. Facebook changed the way we pined for those we thought were special. We could look at pictures of the girl or guy we liked or see who our ex-girlfriends from high school were hanging out with. A common sentence uttered in dorms was, “Did you see the pictures that (Insert hottie) put up from last weekend? Amazing.” And so Facebook Stalking was born.
For those of you reading and cringing, it’s all right. Just like most people with a problem, you’re in denial. You’ve done it. Let those of you without Facebook Sin cast the first Poke. That’s what I thought. Everyone Facebook Stalks (FBS) and everyone loves it. But as Facebook became exponentially more popular across campuses, it spawned a culture of social networking that was too large to be contained bycampus life. Facebook was soon available to everyone. Prometheus had given fire to the mortals and that changed everything.
Suddenly, the plebeians had access to the circles of the patricians. How do we keep them out? We had to make sure those out of college could not see our profiles without being our friends. We needed control and six years later we have the “limited profile”. In addition to this, people have just stopped making their pictures available even those with whom they were friends. This, my friends, is a derelection of duty.
In our attempt and caution in preventing the plebeians from accessing our pictures and profiles, we have denied the patricians in many cases the sacred rite of Facebook Stalking.
This is a problem because for those of you have pulled your pictures and profiles because you signed an online agreement as soon as you hit “accept” on the drunk friend request from that nice guy from the bar that you would be able to Facebook Stalk each other. That’s the deal. That’s the way it works and to suddenly limit access is a violation of that agreement.
And for girls reading this and pretending to be horrified at what you’re thinking only boys do in their free time, I suggest you get off your Lisa Frank bedazzled high horses. Girls check out pictures of people they find attractive just, but like with pooping, they are exceptionally secretive. Furthermore, girls put up pictures on Facebook for their own posterity and with the hope that hot guys will check out those pictures. This functions as a process to foster social eminence amongst their peers who are both male and female.
Girls expect other girls they know to notice what a super fabulous lifestyle you lead. Martinis at a fancy bar downtown?! That’s just like “Sex and the City”!
And this is probably the only forum where the, “Oh She Wouldn’t Be Dressed Like That If She Didn’t Want Attention Argument” actually works. Girls put pictures of themselves looking super sexy and socially elite so that their peers will see it and be impressed. The argument works because there is control of what images are reproduced online. The Camera Girl who is the one who takes pictures of every piece of god damned pizza you eat during the night will always check with her girlfriends to see what pictures will be posted and will always exercise a healthy amount of discretion if they really care about the girl.
These actions are taken with the understanding that men are exceptionally visual creatures. This is why the aesthetics and presentation of how women dress causes Brain Freeze when a hot girl walks in the bar. A guy could be at dinner, prepping for a foursome with Marilyn Monroe, Scarlet Johansson, and that hot girl from Smoothie King when all of a sudden a girl looking good walks in the restaurant and he would, without even missing a beat in conversation, watch that perfect ten walk all the way across the restaurant. With women possessing this knowledge, pictures are posted on Facebook. Men can’t help but look and positive exposure makes women seem otherworldly in their beauty.
What this all comes down to is the reproduction of the image that we want others to see. To control your image you are able to paint a picture to the online and inherently the real world community the type of person you are. As a person who is used to this kind of access to images of people we find interesting or beautiful, we can’t help but wonder when this accessibility is rescinded, “What are they hiding?”