Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Well of Today

Our reporter Veronica Fever went deep cover in the Facebook world for four months. 198 'friends' and innumerable pet pictures later, she filed this report:

It ain't Las Ramblas in Barcelona, but Facebook is a terrific people-watching center. And if you let it, you can discover something about yourself as well.

I think of Facebook as a highly-customized virtual newspaper. One's home page is an aggregation of friends' experiences, opinions, and media favorites (e.g. newspaper articles, blog links, and YouTube videos) all deemed interesting enough to share. You can learn a lot about your acquaintances by what they contribute to this endeavor.

Some friends sign up but rarely (or never) sign in. Some lurk. Some comment on others' postings but post little or nothing themselves. Some post selectively. Some have no filter.

As a semi-professional hermit with an agricultural background, I have several carefully cultivated and nurtured neuroses. One such is the fear of being in a social situation armed with nothing whatsoever of interest to say. So it is with Facebook; there is something chronically counter-intuitive about being a part of a virtual social network that depends on the experiential contributions of its members for content. I can't be the person who typically posts, 'Firing up the barbecue' or 'My cat just hocked a major hairball.'

(Not that I judge those who do. I do wonder, though: are these postings highlights? Or is this more of a 21st-century Descartes thing: 'I over-share, therefore I am?')

Just as I must use humor as a defense to distract observers from the utter banality of my life, so I must find a Facebook role that is acceptably diverting. So I go with either political op/ed or outright silliness. The two tend to form a Venn diagram with a disconcertingly large common-features creme filling.

So. Two questions arise:

1) Does Facebook have a killer app?

2) Why am I going on about a ubiquitous social network in a music blog?

The answers mingle thus: if you have a significant number of Facebook friends with similar avocations, you can be a part of a community of taste-makers. For instance, my two primary interests are hermit-crab racing and music. While the former isn't big here like it is in the tropics, the latter is almost universal.

My friends list abounds with ex-music industry types (and boy, does that 'ex' seem redundant), and the variety of their vid postings is pretty boggling. Here was my very first, a little something from my second favorite live band of all time:


Facebook is also very big on activities like quizzes and personality tests for its users, lest they become bored and threaten to do something nutty like pick up a book. It seems, though, that the music lovers have their own unique way of coming up with fun little honey-do's for each other. Here is a recent fave, 'My Life According To...' The game is to answer a dozen questions using only the titles of songs by one artist. Try it. Mine was the Beach Boys:

Are you a male or female: Farmer's Daughter
Describe yourself: I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
How do you feel: I'm Waiting for the Day
Describe where you currently live: In My Room
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Here Today
Your favorite form of transportation: Little Deuce Coupe
Your best friend is: Barbara Ann
What is life to you: Long Promised Road
Your fear: God Only Knows
What is the best advice you have to give: Don't Go Near the Water
How you would like to die: Good To My Baby
Your motto: Please Let Me Wonder

Other custom-crafted time-wasters have included 'Hit 'random' on your iPod and list the next fifteen songs that come up' and 'Pull fifteen 45s out of your collection and list them.'

Best of all: if you are an active music listener, you always have something to post for your friends to see in your status update. For instance, right this minute I could be writing, 'On the Box: 'Gimme Danger' by Iggy and the Stooges. Which reminds me: have you heard The Ig's latest? The man has gone Serge Gainsbourg! Honestly, I could play that album for my 83 year old mom. She'd love it and, hopefully, ask what else I have by that nice man.


I love Greyhounds said...

You are the funniest, wittiest, most creative person (all rolled in one, if I didn't make that clear) I know.

Great insight to the whole fb phenom Ms. Ronnie.

Ms. Jane

Veronica Fever said...

One word's too many and a thousand ain't enough, so I'll just say thank you Ms. Jane. I've heard good things about you, too.