Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Facebook - The 9th Planet

We used to have nine planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), but Pluto became a dwarf planet (an object in space). Facebook has since taken its position. With over one hundred and fifty million active members, Facebook has earned its place in the world of legendary planets. The only difference between Facebook and the other planets is that Facebook is virtual…and like all virtual worlds, it is full of surprises.

I was never going to join Facebook. I just thought it strange and unnecessary. Eventually, I joined for the sake of networking, or at least, that is what I told myself. Since joining Facebook a little over a year ago, I have found some old friends I never thought I would find again, and I have made some new ones too. I currently have two thousand, six hundred and eighty-two friends on Facebook. The weird thing is that I did not receive two thousand, six hundred and eighty-two perfumes (or Range Rovers) on my birthday. I really do not like this friendship. It is not quite beneficial to me – at least, not in the way I would prefer.

But like I stated earlier, strange (and funny) things happen on Facebook. In the profile section, every member has the option of declaring his/her relationship status. Your status could either be single, in a relationship, engaged, married, in an open relationship, or the funniest one of all, ‘It’s complicated.’ Facebook goes further to give you the option of declaring the person with whom you are in a relationship. For example, Joe’s profile might say, “In a relationship with Mary,” and Mary’s profile will say vice versa.

I can understand why a person’s relationship status might be single, in a relationship, engaged, or married. I can even try to understand (more like accommodate) a person’s relationship status being ‘In an open relationship.’ But why will a person’s relationship status be ‘It’s complicated?’ What exactly is complicated? Does it mean ‘we are divorced but still playing husband and wife?’‘we own a home together and have six children but are not married?’ Does it mean ‘I kinda sorta got my wife’s younger sister pregnant?’ Or worse, does it mean ‘I’m pregnant for him and I just found out we are first cousins?’ Do not tell me it means ‘my boyfriend does not know I used to be a man.’ Seriously, what does ‘It’s complicated’ mean?

No matter how complicated it really is, why does Facebook need to know? It has been quite a little while since I have been in a so-called relationship, so perhaps, I have forgotten how it is done. Pardon me for thinking that having a ‘It’s complicated’ status on Facebook will further complicate things. What do I know anyway? I am just a girl who owns a laptop and an imaginative mind. It becomes even funnier (and troubling, of course) when a person’s relationship status moves from ‘In an open relationship’ to ‘It’s complicated.’ One begins to wonder what might have happened. Did one partner decide to have a close relationship? Is one partner having a baby with someone – other than the one whom he/she is in an open relationship with? Has one partner caught a sexually transmitted disease and now unable to figure out where it came from? The possibilities are endless!

Speaking of relationships, Facebook does the most dramatic thing when a person’s relationship status changes. It is so dramatic that sometimes I am so sure that Facebook must have some Nigerian blood in it. When a person’s relationship status changes from being in a relationship (or married) and becomes single, Facebook alerts all the person’s friends. Example, it will tell everyone that “Joe is no longer listed as ‘In a relationship.” But that is not where it ends. It goes further to add a broken heart next to Joe’s name. Most of my Facebook friends are Nigerians, so you know they cannot help but be dramatic. People start leaving comments like “Oh, don’t worry Joe, your own will come…” or “Eyaa, poor you. Hope you’re coping sha…” or “What happened? I thought you were ready to pop the question.” Someone might even say, “Don’t tell me you got dumped again!” These comments never cease to tickle me. But what makes people (and Facebook for that matter) think that the end of a relationship means a broken heart? Is it not possible that the end of the relationship spells freedom and joy for Joe? Or maybe I am the only one who experienced that.

On the contrary, when a person’s relationship status suddenly becomes attached (in a relationship, engaged, married, etc), Facebook puts a heart – not a broken one this time – next to the person’s name. Of course, the busy bodies are always there to comment again. “Oh, congratulations, Mary! Who is the lucky fellow?” or “Ah, me too, I go love oh!” Once in a while, you will find an ignorant one like “Ah, ah, Mary, you’re in a relationship already? This babe, you no dey waste time o!” Now, I have to wonder; does being attached mean the person is in love or happy? The person might have just made a grave mistake by accepting to be in the relationship. But then again, maybe I am the only one who experienced that also.

Still on the topic of relationships, I have heard horror stories of people’s partners (husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends) being stolen on Facebook. I cannot say I am surprised. I do not think there is anything wrong with putting pictures of one and his/her partner on Facebook, but remember that one hundred and fifty million people may be watching. So before you embark on such a treacherous journey, it is imperative that your relationship is solid. When I say solid, I mean SOLID – not the we-just-met-yesterday-and-we-feel-like-we’ve-known-each-other-forever kind of solid. I mean the I-know-how-many-times-he-breathes-in-a-minute kind of solid – although some might call that obsession. It only starts with one friend poking your partner, and before you know it, all three of you are in a ‘It’s complicated’ status. All it takes is a poke. In retrospect, of course, only people who want to be stolen can be stolen. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

Do you know that Facebook is also a proof of love, pride, and commitment in a relationship? Picture this: girl wants to ‘go public’ on Facebook, and boy does not want to. All of a sudden, girl begins to bear grudges against boy and overanalyze everything he does. Why does he not want to go public? Is he ashamed of her? Does he have someone else? Is he not committed? Does he not love her? Well, maybe he just does not want his business on Facebook. But girl refuses to see things this way, so she gives boy an ultimatum: either you declare our relationship on Facebook, or we are done. Cruel, cruel world, I tell you.

Facebook – God bless its heart – also wants to know if its users are interested in men or women. You have the option of picking one, both, or none. I have picked none. I am shocked to see how many people have indicated interest in both men and women. Does this mean that so many people do not understand what is being asked of them and therefore do not realize the implications of their response, or do we just have a rising number of bisexuals? Either problem is disturbing as it is bewildering. In spite of its obvious lack of sense, I will go ahead and believe that Facebook malfunctioned and mistakenly assigned both sexes to so many people. Honestly, that helps me sleep better at night.

Need false validation? Facebook is the place to get it. This is why girls who have been fearfully and wonderfully made by God constantly feel the need to post half naked pictures of themselves on Facebook. They put the pictures up and leave nauseating descriptions like, “I know I look hot.” Sex-starved men creep by, take a peek, and write what the girls want to read: “You go, baby girl! You look so sexy. I wish I could take you home right now.” The ignorant girl responds with a capital “LOL. Thanks!” Everyone else who has a functioning brain looks at the picture and virtually spits in disgust. Why do people leave false compliments on Facebook? Why tell a girl who obviously looks like she has just been used for a money ritual that she looks edible? Edible to whom? Vultures? A pack of wild animals? A ferocious beast? I wonder.

I have been told to never assume things, but I cannot help but assume that anyone who is on Facebook wants to be found. If that is the case, what then is the point of being on Facebook and changing your name every few weeks according to your mood in the morning? People that already have you as a friend on Facebook will find it difficult to find you; people that do not already have you as a friend will never find you. I assume, once again, that people who engage in this must not know the enormity of the confusion they cause for people like me. But then again, maybe I just do not understand the ways of the Facebook Citizens. Perhaps, I am still just a resident.

Anything and everything that can have a group and should not have a group has a group on Facebook. I have been invited to join the most ridiculous groups on Facebook. Out of courtesy and respect (and fear of being beaten up), I will not mention any. I have to wonder though; must there be a group for everything? Before one forms a group (virtual or not), it is imperative – in my opinion – to have an aim. One should not form a group just because the world wide web provides the unlimited space for it. I realize that some of these groups are for fun, but a lot of them were born out of the creator’s boredom – which is why you hardly see even the owner of the group participating in it. The poor group dies a slow, unnatural – though predestined – death before it gets a chance to even be ill. Such is life.

Everything happens on Facebook. People meet on Facebook. People fall in love on Facebook. People reconnect on Facebook. People get introduced by mutual friends on Facebook. Hearts get broken on Facebook. Hearts get mended on Facebook. Money is made on Facebook. Money is lost on Facebook. Spouses are stolen on Facebook. Fame is acquired on Facebook. Virtual fights break out on Facebook. Cheats get caught on Facebook. Employers spy on their employees on Facebook. Lunatics and psychopaths stalk people on Facebook. From the way things are going, I expect that people will soon start getting pregnant on Facebook. I shudder to think of the kind of virtual community my future children will belong to. I doubt if I will still be on Facebook by then. I even doubt if Facebook will still be in existence. By the time my future children are old enough to belong to a virtual community, Facebook must have gone to Virtual Planet Heaven. Or maybe Virtual Planet Museum. Unless, of course, the future will give birth to strange children who will join virtual planets at age one, write novels at age three, and – heaven forbid – get married at age five.

Ah, the possibilities...!


P. O. BOX 7893
Essex, MD 21221
United States of America
Does it mean

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dear Saint Valentine

Dear Saint Valentine,

I have a problem. A BIG problem. Your anniversary is on a Saturday. A Saturday! For the past few years, I have been able to come up with the perfect excuse for why I did not do anything special i.e. romantic on Valentine’s Day: it was a week day; I was busy. I was on the phone with a friend the other day and she happened to mention that Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, to which I answered – without thinking obviously – “Oh, that’s great!” Then it struck me. What was so great about Valentine’s Day being on a Saturday? The mere thought of it makes me feel like I am breaking out in shingles.

Some years ago, Valentine’s Day was on a Monday. As usual, I had no plans, and I did not feel bad either – thank God for the huge exam I had that morning. As far as I was concerned, the only reason why I was not out having a lovely moment with a loved one was because it was a Monday. Who cared if there was no loved one to actually have a lovely time with? No one had to know the truth. But I came home that day overwhelmed by all the love-struck people I saw along the way. People had huge red and pink balloons in their cars, blocking their vision – and mine. The cold weather did not deter lovers from standing at bus stops and swapping spit, all in the name of kissing. God, I wished I was swapping spit with someone.

Desperate times have always called for desperate measures, so in my loneliness – dare I say, desperation – I did the unthinkable. I sent a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ text message to a little coward who appeared in the form of a human being and called itself a man. I did not know then what I saw in it. Now that time has passed, I really, really do not know what I saw in it. It is amazing the heights a girl will climb to avoid loneliness on Valentine’s Day. My love for meat made me call a cow my brother, but you see, it just goes to show that your anniversary does bad things to good people. I needed company (even if it was on the phone), dear Saint Valentine, so please do not judge me. Alright, fine. You can judge me. I made a dumb move. If I could do it all over again, I would rather count the hairs on my head than send that text message. But I digress.

I was wondering if you, dear lovely Saint Valentine, could talk to the people – whoever they are – who made the calendar and have them do one of two things. They could either reschedule your anniversary for another day (like Monday, and this time, I promise not to do anything foolish), or they could assign you a completely new anniversary date (although I do love your anniversary being exactly one month after mine). Another option – one that I actually prefer – is for you to find me something fun to do – with someone, that is.

If there were a way for me to avoid going to stores like Wal-Mart where aisles and aisles are coated with pink and red – all things Valentine, I would. I am not quite sure how you intended for people to celebrate your anniversary, but newsflash…only the passionate lovers get a kick out of it. In spite of what the Hallmark and Mahogany cards may want us to believe, your anniversary is not a day for brotherly and sisterly love to be rewarded and/or exhibited. Your anniversary has little to no tolerance for agape love. It is all about passionate, romantic love – an area where I am currently dangerously deficient in.

If you know as much about love as history portrays that you do, then you should know that being deficient in passionate, romantic love can lead to destructive behaviors – like texting certain people one would otherwise not have texted. Other adverse effects of not having this type of love on Valentine’s Day include clutching one’s stuffed animal a little too tightly, crying for every movie, commercial, and greeting card, seriously envying every couple, eating a whole bucket of ice cream, and worst of them all, calling that person you swore you would never call unless hell froze over and the angels used it as a skating ring.

But come the morning of February fifteenth, one begins to bombard herself with the what-have-I-done question. She knows what she has done; she just wishes it was a nightmare. But alas, it is not. It is then she realizes that on the fourteenth of February, she sunk to rock bottom. And then, she sunk some more. That is what happens when one does not have love on Valentine’s Day. Yes, she begins to send text messages to people that go against her natural gradient – a perfect recipe for a future disaster, I tell you.

I could tell you that I do not care if I celebrate the day alone, but I would be lying to you. I could tell you that I would love to spend the day with family and friends, but that would be a big, fat lie too. Should I tell you then that I would rather spend it with someone but not just anyone? I guess I could tell you that, but you should know that already by now, dear Saint Valentine.

Valentine’s Day is a day meant for lovers. We may kid ourselves all we want and say otherwise.
We may say, ‘Why do I have to pick a special day to show my love? I show my love everyday.’ That may be so, but we are humans. We need special days in our lives. That is why Sunday is the Sabbath day. Does that mean we do not praise God every other day? That is why we have our birthdays. Does that mean we do not grow old every other day? And what about Christmas? Does that mean Christ’s birth is not celebrated every other day? So you see, special days are important because sometimes we forget and get carried away. The special day reinforces what we already know. Who does not need a little reinforcement in the form of a hand-written love note? Yummy.

That being said, I would prefer spending Valentine’s Day loving and being loved. The alternative is organizing and attending a solo event which will be called the Singles Awareness Conference – just in case you have forgotten you are single, let this day serve as a reminder. My friend, Funmi gladly suggested that we should stay home and order some pizza, after which we would head to Cold Stone Creamery to have some creamy ice cream. I sternly declined her offer. I refuse to spend this Valentine’s Day with her – especially at Cold Stone where love-struck couples will stand in line for some heart-shaped cakes while they nibble on each other’s lips, suck on each other’s tongues, and whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears – to my detriment. No way. I would rather watch a tree grow.

So you see, Saint Valentine, I need your help. It is not as if I have ever asked you for anything before – except for that time I asked you for a nice, honest man. Come to think of it, that was the year you sent me that counterfeit, the one that downed kegs of Guinness Stout every day and prided himself in his alcohol tolerance, only to end up driving recklessly and acquiring two speeding tickets in one night. Ah, common sense is not so common after all. What a waste of my time that was. Did I mention that already? But everyone deserves a second chance, so I will give you a second chance to prove yourself, Saint Valentine.

Dear Saint Valentine, what I am asking is that you should make my Valentine worthwhile. Make it unforgettable. Make it pleasant. Make it fun. Make it Verastic.

P.S. In spite of what I might have said about Wal-Mart, I actually love those dancing, singing stuffed animals. Too cute.

P.P.S. The singing cards are especially adorable. Especially the big Hallmark one that sings, “Wild thing! You make my heart sing…!”

P.P.P.S. I may have thought about it, but I have never, ever stoned a couple that I have seen locked in a passionate kiss. I have only wished to be locked in one too.

P.P.P.P.S. If you decide to be kind to me and send me someone to give me a Verastic Valentine, please make sure he gets the memo: I do not care to receive a box of chocolates.

P.P.P.P.P.S. But if he really, really likes chocolate, then who am I to say no? I shall oblige him – even if for a day.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Do people still send hand-written love notes? If they do, have him send one to me. I would love to reply. I happen to have a nice, readable hand-writing – if I do say so myself.

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. The thought of swapping spit with someone, having my lips nibbled on, my ribs tickled, my neck sucked on, and my body being engulfed in one’s warm embrace is not repulsive at all – neither does it make me break out in a rash. If anything, I welcome it.

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. I really do love Valentine, dear Saint Valentine.

P. O. BOX 7893
Essex, MD 21221
United States of America