Facing off with Facebook

Published On:
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Everyone on Facebook seems to have a friend whose sole purpose is to join a plethora of unrelated groups and fan pages ranging from shows such as “Lost,” actors like Chuck Norris, or some mundane activity like “Flipping the Pillow Over to Get to the Cold Side.”

I get the occasional chuckle when I see friends join some humorous groups such as “I put my face close to the fan to hear my robot voice,” and subsequently dismiss it. But apparently laughing alone is not sufficient, I must show my loyalty by joining the group; and I never get a shortage of invites thanks to my overly zealous friends who always extend their charitable hands.

The first couple of invites for the fan pages are tolerable and I may accept based on courtesy. But every person has a different threshold limit to how much they can bear.

I’ve been trying to understand why people decide to create these superfluous, trivial groups that seem to accomplish nothing. Although each Facebook group’s content can vary dramatically from each other, there are some recurring patterns that can be observed.

The usual way to start off a group is think of some issue or belief that you strongly advocate, which we can call variable X. Variable X can substitute for just about any belief or value such as abortion, gun control, a flat earth, or a deity. The latest fad is writing about nuances of everyday life such as “kicking ice underneath the fridge when it falls.”

Chances are that if something remotely exists, there must be a corresponding Facebook group for it.

But there’s also a process of adding in attractiveness, and there seems to be a positive correlation between the popularity of the group when it is coupled with gross misspellings.

The most ambitious groups try to give a sense of dire urgency and will request everyone to invite as many members as possible, lest the world of Facebook be in complete peril. They achieve this aim by writing in their title “I bet I can find a million people that believe in X before an arbitrary time table.”

Some people are worried by this premature due date and are compelled to join immediately. Apparently if at least a million people congregate on Facebook and believe in something, it must confirm the truth of X by default. However, failure to join the group before July invalidates the claims.

Then in the true spirit of American competition, the creators of Facebook groups go on an all out arms race to recruit as many like minded people as possible in the race for Internet fame. They don’t care if you read their mission statement, they don’t mind if you don’t participate in meaningful discussions, all they want is for you to accept their request and be an anonymous statistic.

Don’t get too discouraged group creators. Even if we aren’t joining your group, we still laugh at your jokes.

Osman doesn’t want to join any more Facebook fan pages, unless someone makes a fan page for him. Discuss the details at msalim1@asu.edu