I’m inclined to write about the Baader-Meinhoff syndrome a bit more. Two threads through the internet and my mind:
- About a year ag0, I saw a video on youtube explaining that the proper way to open a banana is to pinch the non-handle end and peel from there. You can find it if you search. I began opening my bananas that way.
- A few months later, eating dinner with my cousin, I mentioned this. She already knew this method for banana opening.
- The Judge John Hodgman podcast featured a whole episode focused on this particular question. As of this writing, I am partway through that episode and do not know how it will be settled.
- At a cooking class, I found myself mentioning that the banana thing is my second favorite food technique I’d learned this year. (The first favorite being the uber-efficient “planking” method for seeding red bell peppers.) When the whole class became interested, I was goaded into demonstrating the banana technique, to great delight of everyone (except perhaps Jenny).
- There’s a section in my detective book that starts “Delete your Facebook page.” I start with that chestnut that has become a standard part of the job-market lecture bandied about by academic advisors and the same college instructors who grouse about email addresses like “email@example.com”.
- Consider Friday, the focus of Katy Perry’s latest song, also about that evening and featuring Rebecca Black (another “Friday” partier) in the video, as well as Cory Feldman, Debby Gibson, and some of the Glee cast. Also in that video are passed out people who have been pranked in their sleep, either with duct tape or marker on their faces. Katy’s character discovers that her antics have been uploaded to Facebook.
- Before this month, I’d never encountered such images before (as I wasn’t one to spend a lot of time hanging around those who’d passed out). Oddly, this month I discovered the enjoyable (and disturbing) section of the Failblog empire called “After 12 Party Fails,” which seems evenly split between passed out people: who’ve been drawn on with marker, with amusing found-art sculptures built on top of them, sleeping in their own filth, or otherwise doing things they’ll regret in the morning. These photos are, obviously, uploaded to the internet, often with faces and other body parts unblurred.
- Judge John Hodgman warns again, in his episode about taking photos with celebrities, that doing things to post them on Facebook should not be the end purpose of celebrity hunting. Celebrities are people too, so we should take the opportunity to say “I like what you do, sir,” instead of collecting them to show off on Facebook.
- When I was in college, I watched Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H* several times and began mimicking Hawkeye Pierce’s astonished whistle. I did this partly as an affectation, like a hipster beret except more annoying (or less, depending on how you feel about berets), and partly out of affection for the character.
- The word affectation entered my vocabulary as a kind of, well, affectation after Ian, the scuzzy manager in This is Spinal Tap revealed that he carries a cricket bat as an affectation and a weapon.
- The complainant in the banana dispute mentioned above asserted that the weird-banana-peeler adopted this behavior not out of efficiency or ease, as he asserts, but rather as a way to be counter-cultural, as an affectation.
- But I’ve stopped being so overt about my idiosyncrasies, I think. Perhaps with children around, I just don’t have time to cultivate such foolishness. Similarly, I have less and less time to devote to Facebook profile pictures. My status message, however, updates regularly via my twitter account.
As a social space, Facebook is certainly performative. But this aspect of the experience is more overt for people unused to performing in daily spaces. By contrast, people used to passing as straight, as white, as corporate (not punk), or whatever, perhaps recognize the experience more directly. If the “choice” offered by different templates allows the users to feel control over her interactive space, then Facebook is the ultimate template activity. It lets you choose your relationship status, your music status, your religious status, your beer status. You can compile the things you love (or the things you claim that you love), you share those with people you’ve displayed yourself to.
An acquaintance from college sent me a friend request, and I replied asking who he was, because his Facebook identity, photo, and information were all such extreme affectations as to be unintelligible. Rather than continuing the masquerade, however, he happily identified himself when I asked. I was inclined to tell him it was weird to ask for friend requests from people without identifying himself, but obviously this worked for him–I wonder how many people just accept the request without asking any questions. More advice from Judge Hodgman comes into play: you can’t tell someone they’re using the Internet incorrectly. I use it how I use it, to build the affectations I want.
So does the overt affectation of Facebookery stop at some point? Perhaps when people feel private despite being public? Perhaps because the swiss-cheese safety of the Friends barrier gives us a modicum of security, we feel comfortable dropping the things we know to be affectations, at least for a moment?
It’s at that point that someone grabs a screenshot and uploads to Failbook.