Was it live or was it Facebook?

Is it live

Yesterday, @damnredhead tweeted:

“Hey baby, did you show up in my ticker last night or was I just dreaming?”

I chuckled quickly and shook my head slowly from side to side like most of her readers probably did. I got the double entendre.

But then I got to thinking about it a little more deeply. Will the timeline really get us confused about where we are, what is real and what isn’t?

I found myself sitting in a Starbucks yesterday waiting for my daughter to finish class at the local college. Her car had broken down on the way home from school the day before and it was in the shop. I was her ride for the day. I had scooped up my MacBook and MiFi to get some work done while I waited. (I got nothing done, but that is an aside… I should not have told you that.)

As I was tapping away on the twitter and Google+, it occurred to me that even as I was sitting somewhere else, the view of my world did not change as long as I was staring into the laptop that I work on in my office. My world was the same 1900×1600 screen. Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes. I’m not usually one to make a metaphorical reference of Facebook to a dog’s butt, (ok, I am) but in this case it was the perfect metaphor.

I hope we don’t start losing touch with whether or not something happened in real life or on Facebook. Studies show that people recall the experience in nearly the same way, whether the experience was offline or online. (I heard it on NPR, but their site is so bad at curating that I couldn’t find it. If someone does, drop the link in the comments.)

That is what Facebook knows and hope you will never ask of yourself — Was that live or was that Facebook? (I stole that from the old Memorex tag line, “Is it live or is it Memorex?“) The timeline feeds us real-time information about what our friends are doing. Many of us will not be able to look away. Many of us will feel as engaged with the timeline as we would in person. Really.

In a generation or so, when media starts asking, “Where were you when…?” I wonder how many of us will be confused about whether we were there in real life or there virtually? I wonder what a memoir of the future will read like?

*As an aside, I don’t think I have ever written a blog post with so many parenthetical references or blatant commercial linking before…. or have I? And is this really an aside or germane to my theory?

7 Replies to “Was it live or was it Facebook?”

  1. The kids, er I mean, recent high school graduates in my English class just skip over all parenthesis when we do group reads. It is the weirdest thing.

    I wonder what would happen if you asked them to read a page that has parenthesis at the beginning and at the end. Maybe they would hand it back and claim the page was blank?

  2. First and foremost, let me just say that I’m both honored and weirded out at the same time that some random, tongue-in-cheek brain fart joke of mine inspired a blog post.

    However, that said … I see what you mean here. I’m pickin’ up what you’re laying down …

    Your question of “Will the timeline really get us confused about where we are, what is real and what isn’t?” … honestly? I don’t think any more so now than as it has been.

    That we are now able, thanks to Facebook, place things on a vertical “timeline” concept according to life as it happens does not differentiate how we’ve experienced life in the past X amt of years (fill X in with however long you’ve felt “comfortable” online … I’ve been here since early ’90s) …

    I think your question of “Was that live or was that Facebook?” (which, yes, I got the Memorex reference) is not so much about Facebook as it is our adaptation to the interwebz in general, as a society. Facebook is simply making it easier for the “general public” to accept that yes, this world is shrinking and it’s because of our technology, which they’re finally accepting … many of us, who’ve been making friends online (and then IRL) since the days of BBS & IRC (back when this same “general public” thought everybody on the other side of the computer was psycho killers) already knew that.

    The only difference now is that the general public (a.k.a. “mainstream”) are now able to visually put a virtual pinpoint on a moment in time that something happened.

    Conversations that happen online are still conversations. I can have a conversation with my friend Erica via Facebook chat or Gchat or Skype or even text message, and still say the next day, “Yeah, I talked to Erica last night” … the medium is less relevant than the message.

    HOWEVER … if I’m dating a guy, and we have a conversation on Facebook chat, or Skype, or whatever, and he says “*mwah*” … of course, it’s not the same as if he really kissed me, get it? (Yet, I will admit, I’ve gotten into arguments with guys I’ve been dating over text message … but is your question about Facebook or technology in general?)

    My point is, I get your wondering and your questioning, but as a veteran of the space … I doubt it . Facebook is simply making it easier for the general public to accept the way technology brings us together, but I doubt people will think of it as a replacement of “getting together,” or anything like that …

    That said, if, say, there were to be another terrorist attack on the country … chances are, I’d likely be online at that time (because I’m always online). But, the “where were you” question wouldn’t be my answering, “I was on Facebook leaving a comment on my friend Jen’s profile,” but would likely be something like, “I was at the Starbucks at 4th & Main, about to leave a comment on my friend Jen’s profile, when I heard the news.” Get it?

    This is perhaps the longest comment I’ve ever left anybody. πŸ˜‰

  3. They skip over parentheses and bullet lists. Really. They just hear “blah, blah, blah…” and a Powerpoint presentation goes off in their heads. Whenever I see a Top 10 list blog post, I know that nobody under 30 is reading that.

    We’ve conditioned them to skip it. If it was important stuff, we would have found a way to include it in the text itself. When it is in parentheses, it is just supporting or “extra” crap that can be ignored with impunity.

    This is not good or bad, just something modern writers need to be aware of and adapt as needed for their audience.

  4. This is completely terrifying and interesting to me at the same time.

    I’m not on Facebook so I’ll use Twitter and G+ as my reference. I tend to agree that much of my information and business social life exists in front of a screen. What I’ve tried(with resistance, mind you) is to keep my personal life, personal. I don’t want to remember the yahoo page I was reading when something monumental happens.

    Am I jaded or just naive? My rose-colored glasses get cloudier by the day as social media grows.

  5. Nick, that isn’t terrifying: THIS is terrifying. http://scripting.com/stories/2011/09/24/facebookIsScaringMe.html
    Dave Winer isn’t one prone to conspiracy theories either. He just know what he is talking about. He is one of the inventors of RSS so he knows what he is talking about. After running a few test myself, I’m convinced now that I do not need Facebook for anything. I am in the early stages of uncoupling my life from anything to do with FB. I’m sure I can live without it, even though it may be inconvenient for some of my friends.

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