Facebook family= freakout

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Feb 232010
 
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Ah, Facebook. Is there anything more relaxing than sitting down in a class you paid thousands of dollars to attend on a laptop you justified spending hundreds on as an educational aid and logging in to Facebook?

It’s a world of pure social relaxation and bliss. Check messages, check status updates, check friend requests and … wait. What’s this? Six friend requests? What’s FamilyLink? Family Finder?

A cold chill. Your family wants to friend you. What about all those pictures from parties? What about all the “Still hungover” status updates you love? Does this mean you’ll have to exercise discretion in what you post online?

Don’t worry –– helping is what I do, and I can get you out of this. The appearance of your extended family in your super-secret Facebook clubhouse doesn’t have to mean it’s time to become a responsible adult. It just means it’s time to appear to be a responsible adult.

The easiest method is the ‘doppleganger’ trick, taken from the German word ‘doppelgänger’ which means ‘to dopplegäng.’ You’ll need to create a fake e-mail and Facebook account. Fill it with the nicest pictures of yourself you have, and occasionally post status updates about how your studies are going.

Please note that by “nicest pictures” I don’t mean the ones where you look the hottest. I mean ones where there is no beer visible in the background and you maybe even have a shirt that is tucked in. And by “updates on your studies” I mean, of course, updates about what you intended to do, which was your reading, instead of what you actually did, which was sleep.

The doppleganger trick is a little time intensive, and clearly you’re far too busy with Facebook to spend time on Facebook. You could just try ignoring the friend requests until they decay (things decay online, right?) but at some point your relatives will notice you are screening them and the questions will pour in.

Time for defense strategy two –– outright lying. Tell them you never check your Facebook as you are far too busy studying. This may break down if there’s any crossover between your older relatives and the people you chat with on Facebook, so it’s not very solid, but it will buy you some time.

You can also rely on the notion that older people don’t really understand technology. Tell them you did friend them, and explain to them that they need to check their Friend Viewing Friends Manager in their Windows Control System Mechanism.

Tell them to make sure it’s set to five-point-two e-vites, and to be extra careful because if they do anything wrong their computer will start buying things from the home-shopping channel and never stop. Make sure to sound patient, and don’t bother to explain it the same way twice. It will enhance your lies.

If outright cruelty and deception isn’t your thing, keep in mind they are your family. You owe them for the Santa thing.

There’s one other option, but it’s not pretty. The epidemic of people being friended by their older relatives, employers and relatives of people you date just proves one thing –– old people are finally figuring out “The Internets.” It’s no longer a big anonymous playground full of just people your age who don’t mind if you swear and drink.

The online public profile is finally actually public, in a broad sense. A poorly thought-out status update can get you fired or even ruin relationships. And there’s really only one way to handle this sudden clash of the real and virtual.

We have to find a replacement Facebook. Our clubhouse has been compromised. Maybe we can all move back into Friendster’s basement. Hey, at least it’s better than our parents’.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior computer science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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