I'll do graffiti if you'll sing to me in French...
While I've been away, I've been contemplating why this site has become so attractive and addictive for so many. I've been contemplating how I became caught up in it all.. and more to the point, why I felt it appropriate to cut off contact to 200 friends. I've recognised the appeal of Facebook had shifted significantly from the ye olde Geocities personal web page model. Our antiquated Digital Media Cultures class taught us that the aesthetics of a personal web page were intended to visually consolidate our personal identity. A recognisable example such as the treatment of an eye-burning fuchsia background and irritating Curlz MT typography would adequately reflect the identity (and inept webdesigning skills) of a young teenybopper. Following on from the personal web page model, the highly-customised Myspace profile perpetuates this idea that the underlying attraction of these sites is our ability to develop a highly-visual cohesive identity.
Moving away from the personal webpage model, the attraction of Facebook is its ability to affirm and constantly reaffirm ideas of mutual friendship. The fact that the logged-in home page of Facebook is an RSS feed of your friends' feelings and off-and-online activities clearly indicates that the site is centred upon an exaggerated sense of close friendship. My feeling is that this feature draws upon the ever-existing adolescent anxiety that we're not "in the loop" as such, but we are truly outsiders, excluded from the social circle.
In a superficial sense, the existence of variety of applications act as social proof that we really do mean something to our friends. The existence of an application such as the "Friend Wheel" allow us to create a colourful friendship wheel, illustrating how you and all your friends are connected. Other applications are slightly more blatant in the manner in which an individual is situated among their friends. The "Compare People" application allows an individual to find out how their friends rank their appearance, intelligence, sex appeal, fashion sense, popularity and laugh. All these things highlight an underlying desire to figure out where we honestly stand with the 200 people who claim to be our friends.
Applications aside, I feel that the true addictive nature of Facebook lies in the glorification of friendship. As much as it lies in the affectionate private joke on your friend's wall, it also lies in the envious review of the glamourous lives and photographs of your scenester acquaintances. So in response to those who ask why I decided to delete my account so suddenly and without explanation, I'm sorry I cannot afford you a more coherent response. But I know that I am now at the stage where I don't have the energy to glorify past friendships anymore.. and in the light of everything, it seems hopelessly inappropriate to assume that there was as great a kinship as I thought there was. I was just reading too much into it.