It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and, despite the fact I am not in bed, a friend is formally inviting me to join them in a pillow fight. Surely that’s the kind of thing that is supposed to happen on the spur of the moment? Evidently not in the world of facebook. In this world a formal invitation to a pillow fight is no more or less out of the ordinary than being gifted a beer that you can never actually drink, or being given a kiss that has more air in it than a dinner party no-contact “mwahh.” Welcome to the world of ‘social networking.’

Like millions of people I have a facebook account. I signed up back in early 2006 so I could look at pictures posted on the site by a friend. She seemed keen that I view pictures of her being gloriously drunk and apparently pole dancing around a street lamp. The pictures were amusing enough and now I too had a facebook account, so what could I do with this I wondered?

Not having an abundance of drunken pole dancing pictures of my own to post I decided to just search for friends and see what they had on their facebook pages. Pretty quickly I was sucked into making ‘friend requests’ and squinting at tiny pictures of ex-girlfriends.

The ‘friend confirmations’ came in thick and fast allowing me the ability to voyeuristically peer into the lives of those people who I was now forever digitally connected with. Each confirmation seemed to fuel my desire for more friends and I spent increasing amounts of time on the site searching for people I knew, with the qualification for ‘friend’ status becoming ever more relaxed.

After acquiring a respectable number of ‘friends’ I found myself looking at my facebook page and thinking, now what? Pretty soon my ‘news feed’ was filling up with all kinds of stuff that I would simply delete without a second glance if it had arrived by email.

“Mark was challenged to a movie quiz.” “Sommer has added a new bumper sticker.” “Anthony just received a new comment.” “Jen wants to go out tonight.” “Someone is checking out Carly on Zoosk.” – This is junk, and I’m logging in to read this? Surely there must be more to facebook than this?

While I appreciate the opportunity to catch up with friends, once I’m up to date I’m not really interested in knowing that “David is looking for a new cell phone” or that “Paula is fed up of marking homework.”

I find myself getting numerous requests to join groups or install “exciting apps” like ‘beer’ or ‘easter eggs.’ But I don’t get anything from a digital beer or easter egg, and while that’s a nice gesture it loses what little value it had when I see that the sender has carpet-bombed the very same thing to the 641 people they have in their friends list.

But wait, they have 641 friends? Who has 641 friends in the real world?

Now all of a sudden my status as ‘friend’ feels worthless. They’re clearly some kind of ‘friend whore’ whose ‘friendship’ with me has more to do with showing the world how popular they are rather than being interested in anything I’m doing.

As I realize this I awaken to the fact that I too added them to increase my own number of ‘friends.’ “Look at how popular I am!” And with that, I take a step back to consider what it is that I’m getting from facebook.

Maybe there’s a side to social networking that I’m just not switched on to, but if so then it has thus far eluded me. I like connecting with friends, but this feels more like creating indistinct connections that allow us to broadcast rather than communicate. If anything I would suggest that it diminishes our desire to connect with people by providing an illusion that we know what’s happening in their lives.

Perhaps I’ve not immersed myself in the world of facebook to fully appreciate the value of a digital beer over a real one? I don’t suppose it really matters anyway, facebook feels like fashion to me. It’s today’s equivalent moon-boots or leg-warmers, and tomorrow we’ll be talking about something else. All that to say I just don’t get facebook, but I’m pleased for you if you’re one of the millions who enjoy the site.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go update my twitter.

How Facebook Is Like Ikea
Too Old for Facebook?
Am I too old for facebook?
I Still Think I’m Too Old For Facebook
Facebook users beware
Evolution of the social network
How Much Is Facebook Really Worth?
What the heck is Twitter?