anti-social social networking

something very interesting is going on in my facebook account: long-lost classmates from high school have suddenly discovered the internet and one of its social networking sites, and now they appear to be hell-bent on publishing the enormous differences between the past and the present. when i opened my friendster account way way back, i fished out my high school yearbook from my shelf and painstakingly searched for each and every classmate who may have had an account. i found less than 5. now that i've abandoned friendster in favor of facebook in 2007, i knew there was no way my tricol list would be expanded since it isn't my habit to add people, and that my friends then were probably not in the habit of having online profiles about themselves. until last year, i only had 2 classmates from high school on my friends list: alexis and nelson. today, i just approved another friend invite and the list is up to 43! that's a lot compared to the total of 8 high school friends i had in friendster!

speaking about facebook, it's true what you just read: i'm a snob and i don't add people. i may have added just 15 people in the beginning, and for a time, my friends were stuck at less than 70 and there was an interval when i ignored it altogether since most of the people i knew weren't there. then about a month later, i had over 30 pending invites already! i don't add people because i think that connections in facebook or friendster are at best artificial: it doesn't prove anything about the degree of friendship, or the depth of your relationship with anyone. it just gives you constant updates about what the person is doing, if he or she actively updates his or her profile. i'm interested in real relationships, not ones based on a binary code. but then again, i'm also a snob who fears rejection. i had a conversation with a friend and he asked me: hey, are you on facebook? i said yes, and then he said, add me. i said: i don't add people on FB. you'd have to add me, but he replied: no i want people to add me, not the other way around. and then i replied: then we will never be friends.

on FB friends, the number now stands at 544, which is lean actually. it isn't an indication of how friendly i really am (and i am, if not on FB, in real life). most of the people are from AMCI and law school both tied at 153 (only 1 friend is listed in both). and a distant third is tricol. the strange thing about these blasts from the past is that i don't remember many of them. not that i never knew them, but that they remind me about nothing of those bygone years. i don't just routinely approve invites, but i want to know if i actually know the person and have met them. when i look at their profile pictures, i see strangers, no one familiar. it's seriously alarming how much many of us have changed so drastically. i've heard it many times: i haven't changed much, and it's not something i can say about 90% of my high school batchmates.

so while we're on this subject, let me present a non-exhaustive list of weird things i find about facebook in general, and facebook users in particular.
  1. quiz results. i have to confess: i hate these with a passion. not that i hate quizzes in general, but i hate seeing my newsfeeds bombarded with 5 quiz results. from one person. i honestly do not care which starbucks drink you are or what kind of kisser you are or which postcolonial theorist you are because these quizzes are at best superficial and generally terribly inaccurate. they don't say much about a person. they're extremely shallow, and i have no fantasy that i am profound or deep, because i have done a few of these quizzes myself but i don't inflict my trivial nature on anyone. the point is this: take the quiz, fine. but do you have to publish the results, every single time? what's worse is people inviting you to take a quiz so that you could compare results. i have removed close to 20 people from my FB just because they abuse their rights to take quizzes. about half of them have added me again but i didn't hesitate to remove them a third time. now i'm kinder: i just hide them completely.

  2. game applications updates. these are really fun. during my first months in facebook, i was addicted to vampire wars, heroes ability, etc. they were the only reasons i kept going to facebook. but they quickly lost their novelty, really. now, i still play a game called castle age, but i quickly disabled its auto update function, so my friends don't have to suspect that i have too much idle time on my hands or that i'm not maturing. i especially find it strange that i always get these mafia wars invites, or gifts from farmville, or donations for friends for sale. we all hate unsolicited text messages or phone calls offering loans or insurance or even gym membership. no one appreciates uninvited visitors to your home to demonstrate vacuum cleaners or to sell fake detergent. same goes here.

  3. how well do you know X quizzes. this one gets its own comment, my beef being that sometimes, people take the how well do you know X quiz and the results pop up on my newsfeed. problem is that i know the person who took the quiz, but i don't know X. so why would i be interested in the fact that my friend only got 3 out of 10 questions correctly? this is a flaw in FB, but also a problem with the users taking them. not everyone has to know that the two of you are strangers to each other after all.

  4. wall messages. there is an inbox in FB, isn't there? so why post a private message on a wall for everyone to see when you can just as easily (and privately) send an email or a message? it's strange. another FB fault.

  5. friend suggestions. six degrees of separation. just because X and i have 2 common friends doesn't mean we know each other. more to the point, just because Y and myself went to UP doesn't mean we know each other. 2,000 other people graduated from UP with me in 1997; a lot less when i graduated again in 2002. do i know all these 4,000 people, and the thousands of other graduates in between?

  6. friend invites from strangers. if we don't know each other, why should i add you?

  7. fan suggestions. so my friends X, Y and Z have signed up to be fans of newly-proclaimed national artist carlo "king of philippine massacre movies" caparas. why do you think i'd like to be a fan myself? i hate the bandwagon, and i'm not about to jump on one just because everyone's doing it. and 3 or even 4 friends doing something can't even be considered a bandwagon.

  8. parents who make FB accounts for their infant children. it's not a sin to be proud of our little bundles of joy, but i think that it is a little imposing, if not altogether strange, that people create accounts for their babies, and publish entries in the first person (i.e., mommy and i went to the mall. i was on my stroller the entire time and was very well-behaved. then i burped!), only because i think it creates for children a personality which they may later regret, and ultimately robs them of choices. it really strips them of their future individuality.

  9. false names. i had an invitation from a strange name with no photo, an improbable birth date, and an unintelligible location, but with whom i had more than 40 common friends. i declined it. then i received it again, so i asked: do we know each other. it turns out that this person created an FB account under an assumed name: why are some people so paranoid about social networking sites, but at the same time, so eager to be part of it? if you think this invades your privacy, then don't go public online. otherwise, don't be surprised if people ask you who you are and inquire about your true identity.

  10. profile ads. it's just weird how FB decides what kind of ads will pop up on your homepage. i think they're based more on the IP address more than anything else. they've been so useless and irrelevant to me that i have never bothered to check any of them. if i placed an ad, i think i'd like it to appear on profiles based on the interests and needs of a particular user, and not his or her supposed location (clue: i get a lot of ads for luxembourg because of my IP address at work).

  11. highlights. i also don't understand the logic behind the highlights tab on the right side of the newsfeed: it's pretty... random.

number 8 is damn funny! :D

-martin sy-quia
hi martin. so you've found me... online, that is. one less person i can keep secrets from. :D
i like following your blog. what does amci stand for?
Re: amci
the full name is the AMCI mountaineering club, inc. it used to be called the ayala mountaineering club, inc., and the club later changed its name, but retained the acronym.

thanks for reading the blog. hope you keep finding something interesting to read here. :D