I spent Saturday night with my face gently illuminated by the liquid crystal glow of a Facebook page, amazed at how much the website had improved my social life. “Look at how many friends I've got,” I said to myself in the semi-darkness.
Mrs Darnton claims to be baffled that I've got twice as many friends as she does, seeing as she's “way cooler” than I am. (The quote marks are because this claim is obviously bollocks.)
I've now got so many friends that the little thingy down the side of the page that suggests new friends doesn't work. It used to suggest people I know. Now it suggests friends of friends that I've never met. Would I like to be friends with Paula Bennett? I dunno. She'd be good in a scrap I guess.
I don't know Paula. I try and avoid shopping malls and scrapping teenage girls and I've only ever seen Waitakere from an aeroplane window. Facebook must have matched us up because I know a few people involved in the National Party – primarily from Electoral Finance Act days. Just a reminder to them: We were promised a repeal in February, which starts in three days, so get busy.
This somewhat tenuous link is still better than the reasons Facebook comes up with for some of its suggestions. “You both went to Otago.” Along with twenty thousand other people each year. “You both live in Wellington.” First, so do half a million other people and, second, don't keep reminding me.
There are still people out there without Facebook pages. I was having dinner with some old friends from the Dunedin days recently and one of them admitted to not having a Facebook page, saying that it's not something people over forty did. Even the restaurant we were in had its own Facebook page and it's been around forever.
My over-forty friend probably thinks that social networks are a complete waste of time. And he's almost certainly right. Any employer would much rather you were doing some boring crap with a spreadsheet that chattering away on the fan page of a Chinese restaurant you used to go to as a student.
If you do get fired for wasting time on the Internet you're doubly screwed because prospective employers can look you up and see the photos your alleged friends have tagged you in. All that time fiddling with the fonts in your CV is worth nothing if the person reading it has seen the pictures of you cross-dressed up in a hula skirt and coconut bra getting touched up by a pissed bloke disguised as a nun.
Career-building it may not be. Social life-enhancing it would be hard to make the case for. But as entertainment it's more compelling than anything on TV. I'm not remotely interested in watching the most cataclysmic episode ever of America's Next Biggest Pop Tart -- but once somebody promises to reveal the true identity of the implausibly translated menu item number 58 at The Asian, then I'm hooked.
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