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Why Facebook terrifies me…

14 Mar

I use Facebook every day, I check it so many times that it feels like a reflex. Like looking at your watch or scratching your nose. I don’t feel ashamed of this, in fact I’ll be honest, Facebook has made moving to a different country a much easier experience. How else would I be able to stalk all my mates on a night out in Soho, comment on my mum’s new painting or share a hastily drawn Microsoft Paint birthday card with a friend?
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Don’t get me wrong, I do know Facebook (and all social networking sites) are mainly full of boring/regrettable drivel. I am happy to say I am very much part of this; I post a lot on Facebook, I average about 1 status a day, generally some small observation about my own inability to function in society or self-congratulatory posts on my own awesomeness. Admittedly, I do feel sometimes when looking at my Newsfeed that we should all go back to the days when we spent hours writing poetic letters to each other, rather than minutes blasting each other with Youtube videos of cats or badly-grammered brainfarts. (When I feel this way I also remember that this was the same time that people threw their waste out of windows and left-handed people were thought to be possessed … so yeah give me inane Facebook updates any day!) But all in all, this doesn’t bother me. I laugh at people on my newsfeed for their boring/awkward/embarrassing nonsense and somewhere further up the e-food chain I’m certain others laugh at me with equal derision. I can live with that.

Another very valid criticism leveled at Facebook is that it’s evil. You know that South Park episode where Stan’s Facebook Profile grows into a massive monstrous entity that owns his life? Well, that is a pretty fair representation.
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They own all your photos, videos, opinions and (perhaps most worryingly) your drunken 3AM rantings. Not only that, but they will happily use your face to sell all your mates diet pills… or so I hear. But to be honest that doesn’t bother me. My privacy isn’t all that valuable, I don’t really care who sees a photo of me drunk on my 19th birthday, or whether my face is being used to sell acne cream, or if a corporation owns my immortal soul. If that makes me morally shallow… sorry.

The thing that ACTUALLY scares me, the whole reason I wrote this blathering post is this: Facebook is making me get a bit Dorian Gray.
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To explain I’m going to ask you to do this for me. Open your Facebook profile. No really, do it.

Done?

Great, now look at your most recent photo. (My guess it’s one of 3 things. You standing in front on an exciting location designed to make you look well traveled.  You and your friend’s faces closely pushed together on some forgettable night out. Or you and your significant other looking so in love that you could be a Rom Com poster. Am I right? I’m right!) Now… take a deep breath… hit the lefthand back button…
WHAM!!! It’s way-back-machine time!
This is the first photo of you on Facebook. When you first joined.

….
Now some of you will be wandering what the big deal is, why should a picture of you from 8 months ago be such a horror? But most of you, who joined facebook 6, 7 or 8 years ago will know what I mean.

Just for verification, here’s what I get when I accidentally hit the dreaded back button.
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Me at the tender age of 18, leaning on a stolen shopping cart during my first term of university. (P.S. whenever you try and delete people’s faces for the sake of privacy it always looks like you’re some crazy jealous ex or serial killer!)

That was 6 years ago!!! In another 6 years time I’ll be in my thirties. (Yes I know I’m incredibly young and that 30 is not old at all blah blah blah) Facebook, I’m sure, will be alive and well, and I’m sure I will still be using it. There comes a point when Facebook will become a frightening testament to your youth. I’ll be able to look back and see myself age over time. I’ll see people who are no longer in my life for one reason or another. With every click I’ll see my life drift away like the pages of a calendar in a cheesy 80’s time-passing montage.

So, in a moment of obsessive compulsive clarity I did this. I took an image of my face from every birthday party (all of which are recorded on the Book’o’faces) and laid them end to end. Could I see a change? Would I feel anything looking at 7 different me’s from birthday’s past? So for your viewing pleasure here they are, my grinning mug on May 23rd for the past 6 years!
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Kind of disturbing isn’t it? One, seeing that many shiny drunk faces in a line. Two, that any sane person would spend 45 minutes putting something like this together… But there you have it, that’s me from 19-25. I really can’t say I’ve changed all that much, I was skinnier back then. I had slightly worse haircuts… but really there was no real revelation to be had.

So what’s all the fuss about? Why should Facebook scare me so? Well because one day it won’t look like that, one day I will start to see changes. Over 20, 30 years I’ll see myself growing older, my hairline recede, my hair grey and my skin wrinkle. So I’ve started to feel as if Facebook is the loading of a progress bar, with 100% being death. Yes this is vain, melodramatic and rather morbid, but that’s why Facebook scares the crap out of me. Facebook is a rather chilling reminder of my own mortality. One day, when I’m gone all that will be left will be photos of me drinking beer, posing in front of dinosaurs and giving thumbs up. (Along with insightful comments like ‘Just had the BEST sandwich’ and ‘I got banana in my laptop disk-drive.’)

Sorry for the downer folks!

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Space Invaders…

10 Jul

So I haven’t written an entry for some time, months in fact. This is for a good reason; I have been busy enjoying the sights of Midwestern America, applying for jobs, volunteering, making friends and all kinds of important self-building stuff.

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This represents me being all fulfilled and stuff…

So what is my comeback article about? Something profound about the political system here? A comment on attitudes to gay marriage in America? Obamacare? Turkey and Syria? Well… I considered writing a little something about all of these things but you know what? I just couldn’t muster the energy nor the inclination to write something that has been written 10 million times before by people who don’t use Wikipedia as a major source of factual information! So instead, I’m going to tell you a little about my strange rather screwed-up 20 year long relationship with a certain Spielberg creation.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, covered in perspiration and with my heart racing. I couldn’t remember much about the dream other than the fact that it had terrified me. Slowly, I lay back down and let myself fall back asleep. It was already there waiting for me…. Two long gnarled fingers flutter spastically towards me as a bright witchy red light pulsed rhythmically beneath its membranous chest. A rattling intake of breath down that long tubular neck as it leans forward into a single beam of moonlight. Now I can see the light of cold distant stars reflect in its eyes, eyes staring out of the tight hairless face of some starving nightmare child. Nope, sadly this was not the deformed baby from Eraserhead, nor a Stephen King Horror or some other acceptably scary Lovecraftian monstrosity… Say hello to the loveable 80’s family film creation E.T. AKA everyones favourite extraterrestrial AKA the main character in my nightmares for roughly 22 years!

How shameful to be having nightmares about E.T. and at my age?! I mean seriously, I spent a lot of this morning wondering if I was losing my mind. I mean I haven’t dreamt about the little bugger for many years now but the fact is, this isn’t a new occurrence; From the age of 3 to 12 I used to have a frequently recurring nightmare which my parents knew only as ‘the hand’. Even at this young age I never admitted that the hand actually belonged to everyone’s favorite cuddly alien, I knew it was stupid. All the same that film terrified me, I mean seriously terrified me! And now, at the tender age of 25, worldwise and all grow’d up, he’s back…

So I did what any normal (albeit slightly neurotic) 21st century person would do, I googled it. And people, especially those of you sniggering, I am not alone! There is an entire community of people out there who were disturbed by E.T.. People who as children found the freakish bald monkey with a telescopic neck waiting for them night after night and who, to this day, are still occasionally visited by him.

So where does the irrational fear come from? True many people are terrified of spiders and snakes, but at least that makes sense… What is it about E.T. That scared me so badly that even now I am haunted by his presence? Well let’s go back to where it all began, Christmas 1989, I remember receiving the VHS from my parents. I had never heard nor seen the film before but apparently my misguided hippy parents thought it would be a heartwarming film that would teach me about friendship and racial harmony during post-Cold War 90’s paranoia. FAIL. Even the box scared me, I mean look at it!

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That is not a nice child-friendly hand it’s clearly the cold probing reptilian appendage of some horrific space-pedophile… clearly. *cough*

So anyway the film starts with some sinister warbling wind instrument as our ‘hero’ scurries around with his other interstellar-abortions fondling plants and scaring rabbits with his clammy fingers. The next hour is full of such things as a mystery shadow in a creepy shed, a set of swings moving by themselves and a scene in a corn field where E.T. appears and screams like some demented tongueless banshee (see clip below).

And don’t start me on the scene with the sleeping bag and the skittles… Jon Carpenter eat your heart out! So all in all my impressionable 3 year old brain blew a fuse. I remember fleeing the room and my older sister trying (and failing) to console me. I never actually saw the second half of the film until I was well into my teens, and even to this day I have this vague sense of uneasiness, as if my inner child somewhere deep in my subconscious, is screaming its head off!

Right so I got that off my chest, sort of. I’m none the wiser as to WHY E.T. freaked me out, he just did. But safe to say, those strange things that scared you as a child; that episode of Thomas the Tank Engine or the faceless puppets in Play Days, they stay with you! You have been warned, also feel free to share any things that used to freak you out as a child so that I feel less ridiculous. Thanks.

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P.S. You see, someone else gets me!