The Facebook Thing

FB Logo How old am I? So old that when someone says Facebook I still think of what was colloquially called The Facebook, the hard-bound directory of Harvard’s incoming class, so vital in laying the groundwork for your future cabal to control the world. The website was named after it. I find myself now wondering a) does Harvard still print it and b) if so, what do the kids call it now?

Some time ago, I made the decision to rise above such faddish things and not join. What’s the point of having a computer and going on-line if you are just going to use it to interact with other people? If I wanted to do that, I could do it in real life.

But I think I may have miscalculated. I had no idea just how pervasive Facebook would become. Two days ago, Facebook announced it had 500 million active users. That is a number so large it is difficult to put it in context. The planet contains, allegedly, 1.8 billion internet users, so Facebook has now roped in 28% of them. At the current rate of growth, 10% a month, they should have everybody around September 2011.

I plan to sign up for an account then. Because I am the last person on Earth who would join Facebook.

Facebook is now the single most popular site on the internet. And, logically or ironically, the company that provides it is now widely despised. Sort of like how an addict loves the cocaine but hates his dealer.

According to Facebook, and as quoted in The New York Times so it must be true, users spend a total of 700 billion minutes a month there. That is an average of 46 minutes per user per day. According to a recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend an average of 42 minutes a day “socializing and communicating.”

I am not sure if the BLS means to include Facebooking in that line item or not. If not, then we now spend more time socializing on-line than in real life. Alternatively, if it is included, then all socializing done by Facebook users is now on-line. For all I know, that could be true. Not really my field.

But even if there are still some Americans who socialize the old traditional way, it should be clear that the days of physical interaction are numbered. Facebook is just too large to be stopped, its gravitational pull too strong and getting stronger every day.

By the time I sign up in fourteen months, Facebook will have completed its absorption of all socializing done by members of my species with an internet connection on my home planet. And it will not stop there. 46 minutes a day is only a meager portion of human waking hours. It will grow until it will no longer be an alternative to real life. It will be real life. Resistance is futile.

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