We live in an era that is characterized by more technological development than consumers can keep up with. Companies are constantly hocking new products before we can even rationalize spending another few hundred dollars to buy them. As hypocritical as I feel typing this up on my Macbook Pro, Apple is a fantastic example of one of those companies that has perfected the art of convincing us what we need. I mean, sure, capitalism is a great motivator, as it tends to be in America, but it’s not limited to the constant cycle of production.
The phenomenon that comes to mind is the popularity of social networking through Facebook. The site certainly has its own sense of capitalism, what with all of the ads that populate people’s homepage, but for the sake of my point, I’d like to define capitalism as “a person or people paying for a good and/or service.” Sure, it’s a little vanilla, but it’s one of the most classic definitions. In the sense of this form of capitalism, Facebook is not a capitalist entity. Even if it was, my point isn’t to demonstrate that capitalism is good or bad, but that Facebook has a tendency to defy convention.
But it’s not just the way that they market or sell themselves. It’s something that seeps into the very core of the institution. Allow me to explain. I’m not a fatalist. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what I am, but I know that I have difficulty believing in fate considering that would mean “fate” led me to breaking my wrist on accident while listening to Ace of base when I was 7. But I do believe in something. I believe that other people bring something to our lives that we couldn’t find in ourselves. I believe that they come and go as we see fit, but while they are there, they bring something to the relationship. It sounds kinda cheesy, yes, but I hafta believe it’s true. It’s the only way I can make sense of why some people come and go, while others stay.
Now, what does this have to do with Facebook? Considering that in the past month or so, I’ve received friend requests from former teachers, barely acquaintances from my days back in Ohio, and some people I’m straight up convinced I still don’t know, Facebook seems unnatural to me. It breaks that very code I was just talking about. There’s no sense of connection there. And the very few times that there is actual connection with some of these folks, Facebook encourages the inability to let go. I’m just saying that I don’t know about everybody else but I, personally, have changed a lot since kindergarten, so what am I supposed to do with a friend request from a kid I went to kindergarten with? It’s rude to deny it, but seriously, how many “oh yeah, remember when”s can you go through? Sometimes a connection dies because it was meant to die or there was never really anything left for the two people to discover in the first place.
I’m not saying that this is always the case, but Facebook seems unusual in this sense. While other companies are trying to sell the future, Facebook finds itself pre-packaging nostalgia and a sense of past. Facebook has its finer points as well, considering a number of my hits on this blog come from Facebook friends, but it’s an unusual phenomenon that Facebook seems to have tapped into. Also, this isn’t to say that all of my Facebook friends are unnecessary burdens that should have given up contact with me a long time ago, but the sense of forced friendship is palpable with certain people and it’s an undeniable factor of the digital age of “friend”ship we live in.