Being “friends” on Facebook is more of a fantasy or imitation or shadow of friendship than the traditional real thing. Friendship on Facebook bears about the same relation to friendship in life, as being run over by a car in a cartoon resembles being run over by a car in life. Facebook is friendship minus the one on one conversation, minus the moment alone at a party in a corner with someone (note to ninth graders: chat and messages don’t count); Facebook is the chatter of a big party, the performance of public cleverness, the facades and fronts and personas carefully crafted, the one honed line, the esprit de l’escalier; in short, the edited version. Do you know anything at all about your Facebook friends? Do you, in spite of the “missssssssss you girlieeeee!!!!!” and the “I cantttttt believe you are going awayyyyyyyyyy,” care about all of them?
For a moment I thought that articles like this one swept the rug from under my academic feet, from my idea to work on facebook from a performance studies stance. But then Ms. Roiphe showed that she still follows a concept of a division between “the Internet” and “the Real World.” I have a maybe maive, but more positive view on these things. Yes, not all your facebook friends are close, “real” friends. And most of facebook is like chatter at a big party (and that will be the main focus of my intended research.) However, chat, IM and messages can feel like standing in a corner alone with someone. I’m actually quite fond of the idea of textual conversations vie the net as a new form of 19th century letter writing.
Might be that there still is enough to do. That I haven’t entirely missed the academic bandwagon.