Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hey, What's the Deal With The "New" Facebook?

Last weekend (September 12-14, 2008), while most some of Howard University drove down to Virginia to see the battle of the Real HU (Howard!), I got a chance to travel to North Carolina for a college Christian retreat with a great group of students from both Howard and Georgetown University. Unfortunately for me, it was the weekend right after the Georgetown/HU football battle at Greene Stadium for the DC Cup, and I prepared myself for a ride that was sure to include a myriad of jokes, Dikembe Mutombo-esque finger waving, and a generous demonstration of Hoya school spirit (they won the game, 12-7). I had gotten to know or meet most of the Georgetown folks prior to the trip because we all attend Grace Covenant Church over at the Chinatown Theater, and I knew that I had to either freshen up my joke game or reload my I-Pod with some new song material. Fortunately for me, the Hoya students stayed on their leashes, only unleashing jokes equipped with the necessary Zing! when the moment was perfect. (Honestly, that’s probably another reason why the average SAT score over there is like a 1200.) All in all, I got a chance to hang with new folks from other campus ministries, play in a basketball tourney (and not get dunked on), and destroy so many S’mores that I was comatose from sugar overload the next morning. Yup, it was a great weekend that helped me to cap off my summer blessed and refreshed.

However, while I searched the smog-free skies for the eclectic assortment of stars that make up the “Big Dipper”,
other minds were feverishly at work during that weekend. A certain pimple-faced Harvard gentleman teetered across the cold hallways of his building in Palo Alto, wondering if the world would be ready to experience the dramatic change he was ready to unfold. As the lights dimmed (literally) in Hampton, VA on another Howard Bison football experience, piston engines and internet service providers listened intently for the furious clicks stemming from the individual’s corner office keyboard. Minutes before USC began to throttle the Buckeyes in dramatic fashion on primetime television, the change had already taken effect.

I was oblivious, however. I had checked my Facebook hours before my departure that Friday on my laptop, making sure that any last minute “notifications” had been viewed. My status has been altered, my Inbox depleted, and my weekend cleared. Unfortunately, as I closed and locked my suite for the weekend, I had no idea that I was seeing the last of the old Facebook. As Louis XV said before the French Revolution, “after this, the deluge.”

When I dragged my bags into my room at 5:30PM that fateful Sunday afternoon, I was floored. What’s up with this new setup? Who broke into my room to modify my Facebook profile? For the love of God, WHO’S BIRTHDAY IS IT TODAY?

In an instant, Facebook had changed.

Of course, I immediately checked to see if the Facebook "legions" had finally allowed me to tag more than 25 people to a Facebook “note” so I can finally end my insane tagging method. And, obviously, I was still limited. Despondent, I turned to football hoping that the Jets would be beating the snot out of the Patriots so that I could find joy in the midst of my disgust. Alas, it was not to be…as the score read “PATRIOTS 6, JETS 3” at the half.

Yup, I was as shocked as ever. How dare “they” (Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc.) show us their best corporate smile and convince me that Facebook is “connecting me with the world around me.” To that I ask, what world? The new design has made it even more challenging to connect with old friends and find new ones. Just as MySpace slowly became TheirSpace (corporate America’s, that is), Facebook has become little more than a yearbook in which the pages of advertisements and self-aggrandizement far outweigh the emotional and memorable experiences from that school year. Mark Zuckerberg has sold out in order to gain access to more of those men – Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Benjamin. The tragedy of Dr. Faustus has befallen yet another corporate entity that too eagerly pursues a more beneficial profit margin over the cheers of an abused populace. Yup, it looks like yet another company has completely sold out for the wads of cash nestled in the wallets of corporate America, wallets that are currently filled with borrowed Chinese currency.

I’ve looked past those “I’m so over him/her” annoying status updates. I’ve created Facebook “groups” and added Facebook “photo albums”. I’ve argued for the benefit of the Facebook “notes.” I’ve turned my head and coughed while invaders impersonated my friends to raid my profile wall with “Find Your Crush Now!” ads. But can I, the self-proclaimed Facebook writer, find solace in a terrifying new Facebook world?

Well, I’ve personally never attempting to find solace in Facebook. To me, the “New” Facebook has only reiterated the importance of not putting my faith in the constantly changing things of this world, like the stock market or political scene. I’m so glad I put my faith in a cool guy that will never pull the wool over my eyes and only looks out for my best interests and the interests of his Father. I’m so glad that I’m not attached to the fleeting gimmacks that occupy this world. I’m so glad Jesus gave me a new heart so that I can win at the game of life. And I so glad that Facebook doesn’t run my world.

I bid adieu to this final weekend of summer.
However, now is the winter of our discontent with Facebook.

I’m so glad I’m living the good life.

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