This is the weird thought I had at 2.05am when my youngest child woke me up with earache and the need to tell me that he didn’t enjoy the film he had seen at school that day (something to do with wolves and snow from what I could gather).
When I returned to bed, after dishing out the usual cuddles and Calpol, my mind wasn’t ready to settle back down to sleep so it started to think about the big questions of existence: life, Facebook, friendships and time.
I’ve had weird thoughts about Facebook before, and this is related to those. This thought is about how Facebook has achieved something truly great. For all the criticism it gets for time suckage (yes, it is good at that) and inane babble (yes, it is very good at that too), I believe that it has had one revolutionary consequence. It has disrupted the natural flow of change and time in our lifetime. A natural flow that has existed since man first stepped out of his gorilla suit and discovered fire.
‘What on earth are you on about?’ I hear you all cry, in unison. Well, let me explain. As we go through life: birth, babyhood, toddlerhood, childhood, school days, college, university, work, parenthood, work, retirement and death, people come into our lives, we build up relationships with them, then we or they move on. That is the natural way of things. We make friends at school. We all leave school. We eventually lose touch. We go to college or university. We make friends. We leave. We lose touch. We work. We make friends. We leave. We lose touch. Getting to know people and saying goodbye to people are part of the rich fabric of life that we just have to get used to. The joy of friendships and the grief of leaving is part of what normalizes life. Beginnings and endings are natural. It is just the way it is. Some people do stick with each other for life. That is quite rare though. And that depends on both parties staying in the same location for their entire lives. Most people drift in and out of each others lives like blobs in a giant interconnected Venn diagram.
However, Facebook has changed this. Facebook allows for those Venn diagrams to overlap and grow bigger. Facebook has helped to turn the world into one giant rhizome of interconnectedness. Our relationships are now like cauliflowers rather than spring onions. Thanks to Facebook, virtual friends can become real ones, and real ones can become virtual ones. This process can swap over and repeat and repeat. The important thing is that the friends you leave behind now will remain in your Venn diagram. They will never leave. Saying ‘goodbye’ isn’t quite so devastating as it used to be because you will see the people you leave behind at your leaving do, later, on Facebook.
Facebook has therefore successfully ruptured the path of ordinary, everyday, universal existence (you can tell I’ve been reading a lot of Deleuze recently). This way has existed for so long we aren’t really quite sure how to handle the change yet. What has that got to do with art? I hear you ask. Art aims to rupture, break free, find a point in the disorder and chaos of time and do something amazing.
Therefore, Facebook is like art. Facebook has achieved an amazing thing. It has ruptured. It has created a new ‘sensation’.
I’m now going to post this to Facebook to all those friends I’ve had in real life, I now have in real life, and I will later not have in real life: a whole great big blobby Venn diagram of friendships.