I love Facebook (sort of)

Published: September 12, 2010
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Facebook has its pros and cons

Old people, parents, employers and techno-phobes all love to expound on the many reasons to just bite your lip, rip off the Band-Aid and be done with Facebook forever, but most of us don’t really care.

I’m going to be honest-the usual reasons people give for why social networking is such an insidious villain to the average twenty-something don’t matter to me at all. I don’t really feel that that my real personality is being compromised in favour of a Facebook-friendly version of it. I don’t have any secret sex tapes or otherwise questionable content floating around cyberspace and I don’t at all mind having grandparents as Facebook friends. In fact, I love having my grandparents as Facebook friends, and since that is the prime concern of most people my age (older relative stalkers that is, not grandparents specifically) I think I should be golden. Golden and free to stalk and be stalked forevermore, or as long as these things last. There is however, one serious issue with what I believe to be an otherwise harmless site, and it looks something like this:

“Looking for Muslim singles in your area?”

Creepy dating site commercials aside, there is a whole world of Facebook adverts that invariably manage to insult you in several ways at once.

“Are you a young woman looking to sell her eggs?” is a personal (and recurring) favourite. Why yes, I am a young woman, and why yes, I am quite broke with a liberal arts degree and no lucrative job prospects. Hey, thanks for the great idea, Facebook!

Of course, I am hopelessly behind the times in this critique. Facebook no longer simply implores me to give the gift of life to infertile couples and date men of faith, it also asks me to “like” things.

This shouldn’t ordinarily be a problem. I already like many things I am asked to like, such as sleep, food, weekends, national holidays, real fruit jam, T-shirts, organic cotton dresses, bottled water, scholarships, my country, other countries, free shoes, pink Macbooks, cool deals on electronics, God, Islam, posters, king-size mattresses, cheap wedding photographers, designer jewelry, discounted airfare, cute babies, chick flicks, tea, coffee, grandmothers, clock radios, vitamin water, days where I stay in my pyjamas all day, affordable dorm buys, good banking services and cell phone charms.

The only problem is I can’t just like them. I have to like them. Publicly. This makes me wonder two things. Firstly, why on earth would anybody advertise food, sleep, their religion or flipping the pillow to the cold side at night? Secondly, why on earth does Facebook know so much about me?

No, really. Why does Facebook know I need scholarships? Why does it think I might wear organic cotton dresses? How does it know my favourite colour is blue, or is that just another creepy coincidence? Strictly technologically speaking, some kind of software must be matching our name/sex/age/relationship status/hometown/religion to what it thinks we like, but somebody must have programmed it.

Somebody must have sat down and thought that if you like real fruit jam, why of course you like 100 per cent organic cotton sundresses, which naturally means you are a young woman who might also want to sell her eggs! It’s pure brilliance, not to mention strange and extremely distracting from the practice of getting in touch with my friends, which is (or was) Facebook’s original purpose. I suppose the corporate sellout was inevitable. I just wish the man in the Facebook sky didn’t know so much about me.

sarah.elahi

Sarah Elahi

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College who works with the Citizens Archive of Pakistan

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.