Various discoveries have managed to piss me off in the last few days. I read about how nearly 100 people died in a mosque attack in Iraq, saw another article about two Iraqis who were tortured and abused without any indication that they were insurgents, and that the Department of Homeland Security is currently trying to deport the wife of a missing soldier over immigration issues from before she was married. So yeah, the world is failing apart, war is hell, and that it would be nicer if every war was as morally clean cut as fighting the Nazis. I already knew all this.
What I didn't know is that while the world was ending, 6 million Facebook users added the "Top Friends" application, making it by far the most popular on the site. For those of you who have lives: Facebook just added an application system that allows you to communicate with your friends in whole new ways, like beating them in an online rock paper scissors game and then drawing a picture of you teabagging them on their Graffiti wall in celebration.
This is essentially how I imagined applications would end up functioning. Some people would make it so they can "high five" their friends when they don't want to write wall posts, someone would put in a little video box with the Dramatic Chipmunk clip, and someone else would add a little Horoscopes box because they don't understand or don't care that horoscopes are written to apply to everybody. The world would go on more or less unchanged.
But then a number of Facebook users the size of the population of Massachusetts, including 40 of my friends, decided it would be super cool to let everyone know who their most favorite people in the whole wide world are. By extension, this also tells us who doesn't fall into that super-cool group of people who would be chosen if, Oh my God, you were only allowed to invite 8 friends to your sleepover or like there's a desert island and then no one else but them can be around forever and ever and ever.
This brings with it a fundamental and misguided assumption: People should care.
Obviously you already know who your favorite people are. It's not like before the internet you carried around a list with you to avoid a situation where you asked Mary to come to your birthday party, oh FUCK you forgot you hate Mary, why didn't you have some kind of list with you to remind you? So apparently there's supposed to be some kind of value in letting everyone know who you're most happy with right now. Yeah, sorry, but unless I was a major North Korean cabinet official and I could know five minutes earlier that Kim Jong Il wanted to kill me because I didn't let him beat me at Halo by seeing that he removed me from his Top 8, there's no way I would ever give a shit about anyone's BFFest.
But other people who don't build a shell around their vulnerable cores by criticizing other people all the time might be a little more sensitive to being left out. And if you're really think you're doing someone a big favor by putting them in your Top 8, please put yourself at the bottom of a swimming pool.
I was looking at the Top 8 application page on Facebook, which has a description of it, a list of all of my friends who have it, and a discussion board. I noticed something interesting besides that Kendra Moore is probably going to be mad at me when she reads this. I saw that the main argument for Top Friends is that it makes it easier for people to go to the profile pages of their closest friends. That's interesting. But I found something else that helps me find friends' pages, and it tells me who my friends are! You may have seen it before.It's a pretty magical little thing. You write your friend's name in there, and their page comes up! And if you don't think of them or can't spell their name, they aren't really your best friend forever and ever world without end amen (or BFFaEWWEA). It's internet magic!
So the popular response to this kind of rant is "Well then just don't get a top friends list." Unfortunately for people who want to make this argument, the guy I found making it on the application discussion boards looks like this:
Yeah, I won't get a top friends list. But that doesn't mean I should just sit around and say nothing while people find ways to bring out the worst sides of themselves on the Internet. This is also why I have a problem with anyone else getting the "Rate Your Friends On A Scale of Ghey to Kool" application and the one that looks like a game of Missile Command that people can play in your profile but actually launches all our nuclear missiles at Mexico. We need to think about the consequences of what we do, such as Canada feeling totally neglected.
By the way, please hose off your shoes the next time you come in to Facebook. Someone's been tracking MySpace all over everything, and once it gets in the carpet, that carpet never stops playing the Vengaboys without your permission every time you walk over it. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go focus my energies on more important matters, such as the unconscionable shortage of pictures of Colin Jones getting teabagged on Colin Jones's Graffiti wall.