The Social Nitwit

OR An Uncomfortable Journey of Self-Re-Discovery Along Facebook Timeline

OR The Well of Self-Hatred Never Runs Dry

A Blast From Your PastI have recently been forced on a walk down memory lane, taken an unsolicited journey of self discovery, and suffered a deeply personal history enema. That last metaphor is one of mine. I wonder if it’ll catch on?

If you’re blissfully unaware, the social networking giant Facebook has forced all its peons into a regimented new system. Some people are born with Timeline, some people achieve Timeline, and some people have Timeline foisted upon them. I am of the latter subset, and we’re all quite annoyed about it. We’re the upset subset.

Those for whom Social Networking is a fun, active pastime will already have jumped at the chance to have a big splash picture accompanying their head-in-a-square, but for the rest of us (the Resistant, the Hesitant and the Uninterested) Facebook Timeline is now the best option out of a choice of one. For someone who is depicted to be the face at the forefront of the future,1 Zuckerberg seems to be obsessed with the past – specifically that time a few months ago before Faceberg went public and everyone could see exactly how financially ramshackle it is.2

Zuckerbook’s newest bright ideaTM charts your history on the site, as well as extending deep into the past to your birth, or if your parents are a particular type of Facebucker, your conception. It’s intent was presumably to provide users with a personal history book, celebrating their life’s achievements and zeniths and witty statuses and offering a nostalgic stream of highlights: your very own Greatest Hits record.

What it actually is is a perfect time-capsule of your lowest lows and most public failures.

I’m on Facebook, and I can just about stand it. I’ve avoided many of the archetypal Social Lepers that plague the site.3 I have my own uses for the network; my favourite thing about social networking is that it allows me to add a numeric value to my popularity and measure it accordingly.4

Now, however, I am confronted with all my past misdeeds, evidence of arseholery and endless, increasingly demoralizing photographs of my own nauseating face. According to the Grand Exulted Overlord Zuckerberg and all his little wizards, I had until August the 8th to systematically delete all that I’m ashamed of, which is everything.5

Through extensive research into the last five years, I have discovered that I am an astronomical prick.6

To be honest, I suspected this already, but I’ve learned that it’s true for for an entirely different set of reasons than previously thought. I’ve had to sit down and ask myself some very serious questions:

  • Why is past-me such a prat?
  • When did I stop being such a prat?
  • Will future-me look back at this in five years time and think that present-me is a prat? (Definitely.)
  • Is there anything I can do to quell the righteous self-hatred of future-me in advance?
  • Does voicing these thoughts make me look as mental as I think it does?
  • Is future-me a delusional mental prat too?

***

Anyway, you didn’t come here to read my witterings – you came here for salacious secrets and uncomfortable truths.7 Without further ado; may I present what I believe is my first proper blog-list:

Uncomfortable Truths and Lessons Learnt About Myself due to Obligatory Facebook Timeline

  • I joined Facebook to play a pirate game with my friend Paul. That game has escalated into a hideous social networking beast that I am unable to slay. I am not a pirate and neither is he, so on top of that, it was futile.
  • Apparently, a relationship, however farcical, is a more important life event than meeting all but two of my best friends, living with said best friends, going to university, winning an award for my design work and meeting four of my heroes. A relationship is on par with being born.
  • I was at one point deemed worthy of a relationship.
  • I can now calculate precisely how long said relationships lasted for, and judge myself accordingly.
  • My last girlfriend has managed to delete our existence as a Facebook-Official couple long before I had timeline forced on me. This is annoying because I wanted to do it.
  • Alcohol does horrible things to me. (Refer to previous point.)
  • I only learned to spell/communicate without resorting to slang in 2008, or maybe I was bring ironic. Irony does not age well, and I look like a moron.
  • I twice did those bullrubbish cryptic statuses that don’t mean anything. Fortunately no one cared.
  • I cared about my old band for much longer than was necessary or welcome.
  • The flyers that I designed for bands five years ago are so depressingly untalented that I deserve to be disemboweled, or at least sacked.
  • McDonalds warrants a status update.
  • It snows occasionally, and I recorded it for posterity. Nobody else ever does this so it’s a good job I did.
  • I have only been funny since April 2010. Thanks to FB, my first joke told to the public is preserved for posterity. Unfortunately, it is topical, so it is no longer funny.8
    Here it is. It concerns the run-up to the last British general election. Gordon Brown was the Prime Minister Incumbent and ‘The Mirror’ is a particularly unethical tabloid rag.

The First Time I Tried to be Funny

  • In 2010, I thought this was funny:

I'm Hilarious

  • I still think that’s funny. I’m bringing it back.9
  • In February 2011 I went to an art exhibition so shit it became a ‘life event’.
  • Best Friend Dan and I had an impromptu hat making competition in honour of the Royal Wedding in April 2011. Mine was three feet tall and had a paper Will and Kate and a banner saying ‘Eee! It’s a Right Royal Wedding Celebration Hat’ on it and a tiny crown on a stick as its centrepiece. It was a hat so awesome it had it’s own hat. Dan’s was a plastic sandwich carton with some penlids in it stuck to his head with tape. I do not regret this at all.
  • In late 2010 I spent four consecutive nights chronicling the adventures of the homeless people who camped in the band stand in the park over the road from my flat. They would do a lot of drugs and sing Lady Gaga and Bohemian Rhapsody til 3am. One of them shat in another’s sleeping bag.
  • I have dreadful posture.
  • I have dreadful haircuts.
  • I have dreadful fashion sense.
  • I have dreadful taste in everything.
  • I am pathetic and have achieved nothing.

Thanks a lot, Zuckerballs.


1 Because Justin Timberlake said so, and as we all know, The Social Network was 100% accurate.

2 Can you smell that satire? It smells good doesn’t it. Want to come back to my place and take a sideways look at the week’s news?

3 Here’s a checklist: the Excitable Superfan, the Activist, the Evangelist, da GramMMartick CRimmiNul, the Over-Sharer, the Promoter, The Self-Fetishist, The Passive-Aggressive Problem Child, the Comedian LOL, the Fundamentally Unstable Relationship, the 24-Hour Party Person, the Chest-Exhibitor, the Twat, etc. Please comment and add your own!

4 ‘If the numbers go up, you’re having more fun!’ – Calvin off of Calvin & Hobbes.

5 I could leave, but I don’t hate Facebook nearly half as much as I do Twitter, and anyway, how else would I show all my nemeses and ex-girlfriends that I’M DOING FINE.

6 Not literally – an astronomical prick would be hideous. It probably is a constellation though…

7 Unless the opposite is true, in which case you’re about to be sorely disappointed.

8 This is another sample of satire, however, it is two years old. Satire does not age well. It still smells, but now it smells like a stale trump. Or Donald, as he’s known to his friends. HELLO! We’re back in the game!

9 I’m also bringing back the phrase ‘bringing it back’.

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53 thoughts on “The Social Nitwit

  1. I have to re-live the “duck face” every time I see old pictures of myself. I used to be so self-conscious about my smile that I resorted to that god awful face contortion with accompanying peace sign (for some reason I thought that was cool). I can’t believe I FB chronicled my middle school days. Middle school was horrible.

    • And yet just a few years later you invited a group of strangers to vote on their favourite of five of your smiles… Don’t worry, we all make hideous mistakes, but these days they’re harder to wash off. As long as you learn from your facial misdemeanour, you’re a better person that that weird-lipped hippy you used to be.

  2. Oh god, facebook.

    I had a facebook for a total of five years (ages 18-22) before I deleted it, thankfully before the Timeline hit. I used to go through my page on an approximately six-month basis to clear out anything I didn’t like or felt uncomfortable about.

    Last fall I decided to bring my time with facebook to a an end–I’d been hearing some uncomfortable information regarding their privacy stance, I was sick of all the ads, as well as a multitude of other personal reasons (but no, not OMG SO MUCH DRAMA like some people believe).

    I’ve felt extremely free ever since I deleted it and I have no intention to go back. I’ve communicated much more with close friends/family on a regular basis than I did when I was on there, and it illustrated very clearly who my “real” friends were.

      • It’s really interesting how it works… I sent three or four messages to everyone on my friend list before I left giving them my email, phone #, and a few other bits of contact information. Only a handful of them kept in touch with me after I deleted the account–less than I thought. However, my relationships with them have improved since then and I realized that a lot of the “friends” I had on facebook weren’t really friends at all.

    • I am not exactly the user Facebook would prefer: I don’t ‘like’ any companies, I don’t ‘share’ anything and instead of chronicling my life I spend days at a time compiling lists of pun band names based around a theme. (FOOD BANDS: Bread Zeppelin, Museli, Frank Furturner, Quiche-a, Bring Me the Whole Raisin, Soup Doggy Dogg with Mötley Crüetons, Necking Back Sundaes and my personal favourite, Streetlight Manifestoast.)

      I like to play a game with the adverts. I control the ‘Private Browsing’ on Safari to direct my Google Smart Ads towards the weirdest things I can think find. The goal is to get a picture I saw of a Google Ad featuring Hulk Hogan’s face with another Hulk Hogan’s face on his chin. I also like to deny all these adverts by clicking ‘It’s repetitive’. For some reason this amuses me more than I ever though possible.

      • “Streetlight Manifestoast”
        Oh my god, this made me snort coffee up my nose. I hope you’re happy.

        “The goal is to get a picture I saw of a Google Ad featuring Hulk Hogan’s face with another Hulk Hogan’s face on his chin. I also like to deny all these adverts by clicking ‘It’s repetitive’.”

        This is my favorite thing ever. I have an adblocker that replaces all ads with pictures of cats, but I think your idea is even better.

      • I am happy, Lux, that my pun gave you a nostril enema.

        Google Ads are, unfortunately, one of those irritants that will never truly leave your life, like an allergy or an ant infestation or the shame of owning any of Adam Sandler’s DVDs. They can, however, be used for fun, if the user knows where fun can be found. (Answer: everywhere.)

        And, in case you’re curious:

    • I’m not sure I would ever want to trust the technical innovations of a man whose head is exactly as wide as his neck. He looks like Beaker in his wedding photos, and thanks to Timeline, that’s a life event!

      • ‘Good evening everyone. I am here tonight to introduce to you Facebook’s latest innovation. It’s called the Facebook Timebomb. If your posts are too frequent, too illiterate or too morally objectionable, you will be entered into a Russain Roulette style system of account deletion. It might strike now, it might strike in a years time. Don’t think it won’t. We know all your secrets. Now log off and go and earn some real problems.’

  3. Chris, this was a very entertaining read and a great idea for a post – I wish I’d thought of it! Maybe I’ll steal it!

    I’d love to see your posts in my newsfeed. You’re creative with them – I love the fact that homeless guys parked it across from your apartment and I love even more that you chronicled that.

    Like you I also berate myself over things I’ve posted. I have deleted my account several times out of embarrassment. hehe

    • By all means, steal away. Everyone’s will be different, and it will allow you to revisit ‘Old Material’ and shoehorn it into a blog-proper.

      I use my FB entirely as an opportunity for jokes. I don’t think I’ve posted a serious status for years. Looking back, Past-Me is a dick for not helping out the homeless, but Past-Me is also a genius for not financing obvious drug habits and alcoholism. Past-Me would probably have tried to help by giving them a tin of soup with no opener, because Past-Me is a fool. Alternatively, Past-Me might have given them a can-opener, and Past-Me would have had his eyes gouged out and eaten for his trouble. Probably. We’ll never know.

  4. I tried to defect to Google+ but failed miserably because I am not a skilful manipulator of the masses.
    I regret having been one of the first among my circle back in the day to have FB and spreading it among friends and acquaintances, ultimately contributing to Z-balls’ success. Sorry world 😥

    • Without your actions, Lemonade, Facebook might never have taken off, and something worse might have taken its place. If there HAS to be a global social stalking phenomenon, it might as well be the blue one.

  5. I had Timeline foisted upon me as well. I just looked at it and felt my life pass before my eyes. I think my favorite posting was a Chuck Norris story saying Mary would have aborted Jesus under President’s Obama’s health care plan.

    • On reading your comment it struck me how awesome Jesus’s Timeline would be.
      Jesus created the group ‘The Disciples’
      Simon uploaded a photo: ‘Amazing what a pro can do with just two ingredients.’
      Jesus commented on a poll: ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’
      Jesus was tagged at ‘The Last Supper’ with Simon Peter, Judas, Thomas and nine others.
      Jesus updated his status: ‘BRB, going to my Dad’s for the weekend’
      Jesus challenged you to a game of Mafia Wars.

      No offence meant to any Christians.

      • You seriously need to make this a post because that is some funny stuff. Don’t forget to include Jesus’s instagram photo of all fishes and loaves.

      • I think the Lord would favour a 1977 filter without the border – stylish, but not frivolous.

        Due to the nature of Timeline, it might sort out this pesky when-did-the-Earth-get-created-anyway problem we can’t seem to get over. ‘Jesus was born: 25th December, 0.’ That’s that sorted then.

  6. I’m really only on Facebook to mock other people. I rarely post anything. I just read the News Feed and think, “Did I really need to know that?”

    Although my timeline does make me nostalgic sometimes—it reminded me of a trip to New Orleans from a few years ago when I insisted on posting a photo of every drink I had while I was there. There were a lot of photos.

    • Done properly, that sort of thing can be very funny. I have two friends, recently be-coupled, who went on a retreat together. They took 187 photos of a naked mole rat and uploaded them all individually, tagging themselves in each one. I saw the funny side and laughed for three hours.

  7. I haven’t been forced to Timeline yet for reasons unknown to me, but I’m definitely dreading it. Not just the inevitable public display of stuff I’d rather forget about or not have anyone else see but also because the organization of it is just so damn annoying. I use Facebook mainly to keep in touch with people I actually care about and to laugh at other people. Oops, guess I shouldn’t have said that last part out loud.

    • What are friends for if not targets for cruel humour? Facebook is fast becoming a collection of people that you’re glad you didn’t turn out to be. Unfortunately they’re all thinking the same thing…

  8. I love facebook unapologetically. Here’s why: I already have a low opinion and expectations of myself and am reasonably misanthropic. So if I look at my history and news feed and find only disappointment, I feel comforted that I was right. If there’s anything that provokes any hope in my cold, dead heart then it pretty much makes my day.
    Also, can we be facebook friends? I would really like to know when it’s snowing.

    • Ah! A lady after my own heart! Expect the worst of yourself – if you’re wrong, a pleasant surprise, and if you’re right, at least you were right! And who doesn’t like someone who’s right all the time?

      Looking back through my own feed, I discovered that I had one very good, very funny year. The rest of it is shameful. I would invite you to observe, but unfortunately, that would require me sacrificing this flimsy shroud of internet anonymity, and my true identity will no doubt disappoint you.

      I can, however, tell you that it is not snowing.

      • Oh my word, I did not mean to come across as an internet stalker trying to steal your anonymity, but alas, I see that is what I have done. I promise to stop drinking and commenting. Right after this one. Ok, well maybe next week or something. I promise to work on it, how’s that?

        And I believe that this must have been your funniest year, unless you just save it all for the blog and facebook suffers for it.

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  11. Chris, Chris, Chris. You are looking at this all wrong! Your facebook timeline provides pictoral evidence of just how much you have matured in the last few years. Gone are the days of embarrassing boyhood antics. These are the times of MANHOOD! Splash your successes all over that timeline and push those bits of embarrassing history far beyond the reach of any sane Facebook stalker. Or, at the very least, change your profile picture to a shot of you with a half-buttoned shirt, a cocked eyebrow and a sly grin. Your ex-girlfriends are sure to be impressed.

    • So what your suggesting is that rather than hide the shameful past, I should instead chart and document all my manic movements and crazy capers religiously to hide them automatically, oblivious to the fact that yesterday’s wacky antics are today’s unbearable mistakes? And I’m to call that my manhood am I? I thought my manhood was something else entirely… I’ve clearly been doing it wrong…

      There is a reason I don’t post a photo of myself on this blog, and that is because I have a complete inability to be photographed without creating another entrant for something I have affectionately dubbed the Weird Face Olympics. I’m sure that by seeing a picture of me with a cocked eyebrow and sly grin, deliberately deformed for a laugh, and perhaps with a glimpse of a chest so unimpressive I can’t even be bothered to think of a proper simile, any ex-girlfriends would think ‘Wow. I have dodged a bullet. I’m not at all sorry. What a prick. AND he didn’t know how what his own manhood was…’

  12. Oh, bloody hell, Timeline. I had hoped to avoid this. Thank god I update my Facebook with my Twitter account, so every meaningless thing I say becomes some important life event!

    I’ve just noticed how each year has some kind of summary of “X number of friends posted on your wall on your birthday in 2010” etc – is this so I can see how unpopular I have become? I’m not sure if that’s more disturbing than the GIANT photo of my boyfriend it has added when we finally relented and told Facebook we were a couple – perhaps that’s in case I forget what he looks like?

    I’m at the risk of this comment becoming a blog post in itself, so with your permission I may steal the idea and rant in my own space.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

    • You’re welcome, thank you for commenting.

      I like to think of my friends as more than numbers. Like if you agree, comment if you don’t! LOL XOX !!!1!

      When you and your boyfriend agreed to become ‘Facebook Official’ (about as romantic and special as proposing with a Barbecue Beef Hula Hoop) did you get to nominate a date? Or did Zuckerbook declare ‘THIS IS YOUR ANNIVERSARY NOW.’

  13. I’d really like to see those Royal wedding hats. Would you be so kind one day?

    But do it quick, your purple and grey attire is doing the strangest things to my eyes.

    • I will see what I can do. If I recall, the hats were not photographed, but they were filmed, and unfortunately they were on our heads, which have our faces on, and I’m not prepared to show that face here, as I don’t want to put people off their dinner.

      On a serious note, is the background a problem? I’d be mortified to find that prolonged exposure to what is a very shallow bit of customisation might deter people from visiting. I don’t wish to cause unease. It might put people off their dinner, and, as I think I mentioned, I don’t want that. Not one bit.

      • Apologies for making you concerened about your blog. I had probably been drinking so that is the most likely cause, or was I at work when I commented? Suppose it makes no difference, I had probably still been drinking.

        And why not, it’s great to have a nausea inducing blog. Having that kind of power reaching across the globe….

  14. Nice post! Though I find it very entertaining to look back at my statuses so neatly organized….AND already a couple have been a source for blog “material”! (Oh yeah…I forgot that happened…Blog worthy!) So I’m ok with it.

    I know you’re super busy and important being “Freshly Pressed” and all, but I have a request. Can you take a look at my most recent post, scroll to the comments and verify whether or not my accusation is valid? You’ll see what I mean….It’s driving me NUTS that the culprit hasn’t come forward so I’d like to try to weed you out of my suspect list if possible.

    Oh and try to be honoured and not creeped out that I would suspect you of such a thing. You seem clever and capable of a funny little prank, ’tis all!

      • In my defense, all I had to do was copy the IP address (which WordPress provides next to the comment) into an IP address locator website and voila! Elementary detective work.

        This is all very very very weird….

    • Thank you for following, your particular approval counts for a great deal in this here blogging world.

      I must admit, it has its charms, but like you I lamented the lack of control over what memories I wished to be able to see. In the case of the powerfully shit art exhibition, I spent an hour trawling my own digital past, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might have dreamt it, and if I had, what would be an awful indictment of my subconscious imagination that would be.

  15. This post gave me such a good laugh, thanks! I don’t even dare to look at my past on Facebook- every time I come across an old photo or status update I feel like I should erase my account completely to make sure no-one will ever see any of it. But then I realise only stalkers will want to waste their time reading my timeline so I just forget about it.

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