By Frank Moher
I have been outed.
A new study by a York University student reveals that heavy Facebook users are “narcissists” who enjoy monitoring “how many friends they have.”
Guilty as charged. I’m not sure I qualify as a “heavy” Facebook user — I’m much too busy twittering for that — but I am utterly promiscuous in accepting friend requests. In fact, I don’t even know who many of my Facebook friends are. Go ahead; friend me. As long as you don’t list “serial killing” among your interests, you’re a shoo-in. That’s because I deserve many more friends than the 274 I currently have. Many, many more. No really, I do.
Apparently many of us also use Facebook for “self-promotion.” Again, that’s me with my hand raised. The study says this is a result of my “low self-esteem.” Well, if it wasn’t low before, it certainly is now. But I use Facebook to push all manner of pet causes: petitions, conspiracy theories, theatre productions I’m involved in, this magazine. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not promoting some damn thing. I must have the self-esteem of a rat.
But the fact is, most of my “friends” do the same. They, too, constantly use Facebook to push this and that: global warming, animal rights, religion, art exhibitions, pole-dancing clubs, pea-shucking collectives. We are a veritable orgy of overcompensation. But that’s just the way I like it. I like knowing what puts a bee in my friends’ bonnets. I particularly like following the peeves and enthusiasms of people who are nominally my friends but who I don’t know from Adam. It’s exotic and you learn the strangest things — kind of like travelling in Thailand.
It could be that, by “self-promotion,” the study’s author really means those useless status updates advising you someone had a great day at work, or a bad day at work, or is thinking of going to a movie, or just painted her toenails. In other words, Facebook used as Twitter by people who don’t realize even Twitter isn’t used that way anymore (except, surprisingly or not, by “jack”, one of Twitter’s founders and a master of the banal tweet). But this is hard to imagine. Does anyone really suppose that letting your friends know you took your dog to the grooming parlour, and posting photos to prove it, is some sort of good publicity? It’s not. It’s the 2010 equivalent of showing your dinner guests lousy 8mm films of your kid’s bar mitzvah, back in the 1960s.
I could go on, but I want to go check how many new friends I’ve gained since I posted that invitation up top. Probably thousands. I’m just that fascinating.