Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Facebook: The Anti-Social Social Network

Friday, November 14th, 2008

You know that expression “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Well, how about “Hell hath no fury like a social networker scorned”?

A couple of weeks ago I had my Facebook account disabled with no warning or explanation. I’d been online in the evening and had left the page open while I took an overseas call. When I returned to the computer – BANG!! No more Facebook. Needless to say, I was not amused. I figured it was yet another of their multitudinous technological glitches – the very same glitches that have prevented me from accessing many of the applications I have loaded. I mean, I can receive Poke Pros, but I can’t seem to send them back out. What’s the world coming to? I figured this time something truly major had malfunctioned. However, when my bear was able to get into his Facebook account, I realised that things were definitely not kosher.

For several days running, I sent copious emails to copious Facebook email addresses, as did many of my Facebook friends, who wished to lodge their protests over my apparent and tragic assassination. I hadn’t done anything I could think of to bring the wrath of the Silicon Valley gods down upon me. My only consolation that it had all been some dreadful mistake was down to the fact that on the very same night my account went missing, so too did my mother’s. Now this was truly bizarre, especially since she uses it nowhere near to the slavish and fanatical extent in which I do. I smelled conspiracy. And I was out for blood. There was more at stake here than simple social networking. I had things on my Facebook of great sentimental value to me – and perhaps this was what hurt the most: losing them forever.

To say that I was ready to recruit any surviving members of the Weathermen (or those not still in prison) to come with me to Palo Alto and do some major sorting out would not have been an understatement. (I should add that I’ve been told I look pretty hot in khaki too.) Had I actually boarded that flight to Northern California, well… let’s just say that Mark Zuckerberg (can we think of anything that rhymes with “Zuckerberg”?) would have been wise to pack up his cojones and head for the Mexican border. This was NOT how The Queen of Facebook should be treated!

When I received an email containing a Washington Post link from a friend about what can only be described as an indiscriminate cull by Facebook against its users, I really freaked out. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but there definitely appears to be a discriminatory policy in operation here. My bear has been the victim of it; so too have a number of his mates who, like him, don’t qualify as sharing the same species as you and I do. Having said that, I know plenty of homo sapiens who have likewise been treated unfairly, having their accounts randomly and bizarrely disabled for reasons known only to some anonymous entities hiding behind a computer screen whose sole source of social interaction is derived courtesy of their own hand. Bad enough to get scolded for adding too many friends or joining too many groups, but where will it end? Delete accounts of people who have a big schnoz? (Guess Babs Streisand will be shit out of luck on this one!)

To make the situation even more bizarre, only a few weeks before my enforced disappearance from my favourite social networking site I received an ominous message from the Facebook gods that a photo I’d uploaded had been removed due to a “violation of terms of use”. Now that puzzled me. What could I possibly have posted that could even remotely have violated anything? A photo of me at a book launch? A photo of me at my mother’s house? A photo of me with my bear? WHAT? Hell, I’ve seen stuff on Facebook that’s downright pornographic, to say nothing of the kind of groups they allow to proliferate – groups which should only be allowed on a subscription porn site, not on a mainstream social networking site. Hell, I’ve seen profile photos of women who look as if they’re plying their dodgy wares on a street corner. But who gets a threatening message about violating terms of use? Me! So I combed through my various photos, trying to figure out which one had been excised out of existence. And guess what? It was the book jacket for my anthology Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers. I nearly fell off my chair. Okay, it’s got nudity, but it’s artful and subtle nudity, not pornographic nudity. You see raunchier stuff on a postcard from Miami Beach. I couldn’t help wondering who in my circle of 4,000 plus Facebook friends would have complained about the cover of a book I’d done, especially if they were interested in having me as a friend in the first place! Ironically, Wicked has been and still is being sold by major booksellers – and placed out on the front tables, not relinquished to some unreachable top shelf in the rear of the store next to the toilets. Clearly, Borders and Waterstones have no objection to the book jacket. Go figure.

Anyway, my story has a happy ending… at least for now. I’m back online at Facebook and, I am pleased to say, was apparently sorely missed. In fact, I received a number of messages and wall posts from people I’d never even spoken to before, welcoming me back and saying that it had been really boring without me. Gosh. Perhaps there is something to this social networking gig after all. I mean, a little bit of mass adoration can go a long way.

And who knows? That random poke you receive might develop into the love of your life! (If it doesn’t lead you into the arms of a serial killer first.)

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Facebook Virgin

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

It all started with Dave Gahan.

“What, your erotic writing?” I hear you ask. Good guess – for let’s face it, the man’s voice defines “erotic.” Alas, I’m afraid my reply will be far less sexual than the image of me lying naked on my bed in a room lit with candles, listening to Dave singing “Everything Counts” as I tap breathlessly away on my laptop. You see, way back in the old days (roughly a year ago) when I first started getting into this full-time job known as Facebooking, one of my very first Facebook friends was – (drum roll) – Dave Gahan! (And yes, I mean Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode fame.) Some of you may already know about my prolific use of the social networking site Facebook. In fact, I’ve even been mentioned in the Guardian for my Facebooking proficiency. Therefore it seemed like a good idea to become “friends” with Dave Gahan on the off chance that he might actually be Dave Gahan.

Now I’m not so naive as to believe whatever proverbial hogwash someone tells me. Of course I had my reservations as to whether the individual to whom I was engaged in Facebook messaging was, in reality, the man in possession of the most erotic voice ever to ooze from a microphone. To be honest, I was quite coy and dismissive about the whole thing, volleying humourous little barbs into his court as to the nature of his true identity. As time went on, however, he said enough things to make me believe he might be genuine. Perhaps it was a vagueness not to speak all that much about himself (which would have been a dead giveaway that Dave Gahan wasn’t really Dave Gahan – as in trying too hard). Perhaps it was the self-effacing quality he had when he offered me the occasional personal tidbit about his failed marriages and his former drug addiction. But I think it was that sense of insecurity he displayed when making reference to his new solo album that finally clinched it for me. Many artists are insecure about their work, especially those who possess the greatest talent. Ergo I was hooked.

Our Facebook exchanges continued along at a pleasant and steady pace. “Dave” demonstrated a wisdom about life from one who hasn’t exactly had an easy time of it, and we got on quite well, though I still teased him now and again about his identity. He wasn’t at all bothered with trying to convince me – which only served to convince me even more that my Facebook friend was Dave Gahan. Then one day I received an add request on Yahoo Messenger from a man I’d never heard of. Curious, I accepted, my intention being to delete him the moment I found out who he was and what he wanted. He immediately sent me an instant message, saying that he couldn’t go on like this anymore and he had to come clean. It was my Facebook friend – and he was NOT Dave Gahan, but a 37-year-old divorced electrician from Kent. My Dave Gahan bubble had burst.

Could this mean that no one on Facebook is who he or she claims to be? Okay, so call me a skeptic, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe my new Facebook friend Jimi Hendrix might, in fact, be dead after all. And as for all those pokes I keep getting from Jim Morrison

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend