Spine tingling, stomach curdling, truly terrifying. What has induced this fear into me? Facebook innocently posing the question ‘do you want to be notified when you’re within 10km of a friend’ and vice versa. Its features like this that convinces me that Facebook are trying to turn us all into agoraphobic loners.
My few friendships are built on the solid foundation of lies. I can keep my distance from them by simply concocting some exotic tale as to why I can’t possibly go on their awful sounding night out. Or my old favourite of simply ignoring someone’s messages, then claiming that you didn’t see them until after the event. But it sounded like a great time was had by all and I’d love to do it next time. Definitely! I’m already there! We both know the truth, but like the wife who nods as her cheating husband tells her that it was just a one off and it won’t happen again, we take comfort in this charade. This feature promises to wreck those foundations.
The narcissist in me is already imagining the doomsday scenario of being out somewhere and hearing the dreaded ping that tells me that someone in my friends list had reached within 10km of me and is closing in, like an enemy missile on a radar screen. All the time knowing that said person has received the same ping and is figuring out ways of hunting me down. As fast as I move away from them, they’re closing the gap at the same speed; I’m stuck in some kind of existential quick sand and there no option but to stand still and drown.
Now you may point out that the last thing anyone on my friends list would want to do is seek to close the distance, be that physical or emotional, between them and me. And you may well be right in that assertion. But merely knowing that the above scenario is possible makes me quake. It’s OK I hear you cry; simply remove those people you don’t want to be able to find you. Well that would result in a mass genocide of my friends list (frankly, even my own mother wouldn’t survive the cull).
This returns me to where I started; a social network is trying, and succeeding, in making me even less social (this is quite an achievement). It’s enough to make you think up a crazy conspiracy theory that Facebook was set up by some geek with no friends who’s trying to inflict some kind of twisted revenge on the world.