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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

commentfacebook.jpg When you gaze into the abyss

I had a proper look at Facebook for the first time in my life recently. Oh mercy! You can officially put me down as a hater.

Photo albums used to be a staple of the TV sitcom. A character – Victor Meldrew, say – would be trapped at a relation’s house during the aftermath of a Christmas dinner. The host, scrabbling around for something to entertain her guest, would invariably wheel out the phrase: “Would you like to see our holiday snaps? Trevor – get the albums!” “Albums?” Victor would reply 

warily, the emphasis firmly on the plural, a look of horror creeping over his features. The scene would then dissolve to later in the evening, Victor’s face now a mask of boredom and irritability as he is shown the umpteenth photograph of his relations doing not very much, in some place not very interesting. It’s funny because other people’s photographs are terminally wearisome, correct? Who in their right mind would ever want to wade through them all? That was back in the 90s, however. Today we have Facebook, which, as far as I can tell, is just a massive photo album without end. And worse. I’ve managed to steer well clear of it thus far in my life but my partner had cause to join up recently - for reasons more mundane than someone’s holiday snaps to go into here - and it’s opened up a real fissure in our house; like someone has ripped through the fabric of reality in which a torrent of pointlessness has now gushed.

WHO ON EARTH - I said this to my partner at the time and I’ll repeat it now - WANTS TO SEE FOOTAGE OF AN OTTER WEARING A HAT? Because since she signed up, I’ve learned that Facebook doesn’t just contain pictures of people on holiday; it also contains pictures of people not on holiday: people shopping, people having their dinner (people having their dinner for god’s sake!), pictures of what people are eating for their dinner, people’s kids – vast warehouses thrumming with supercomputers holding gigabyte upon gigabyte of boring toddlers – AND footage of animals doing cute/funny/unpardonably dreary activities.

I had a vague notion that Facebook might be some kind of forum for discussing the finer points of the day, but there appears to be no conversations going on WHAT SO EVER. Instead it’s just a ticker tape of drivel: cats that look like Eamonn Holmes; words of wisdom so trite they appear to have been written by a self-help robot that secretly wants you to kill yourself (“Clouds are just wise sky kittens sent to watch over us”); and a never-ending convoy of pictures of people in the pub. Needless to say my partner is hooked and while I’m spending my time outdoors engaged in my favourite summer activity – strolling around in the sun pointedly ignoring anyone in a top-down sports car – she’s sat in front of the computer looking at photographs of someone’s bathroom grouting. She claims to love it, but, rather like Victor Meldrew, I simply don’t believe it.

Next month I investigate a new fangled device called “Television” and ask: why is it full of something called MasterChef?