There is a irksome trend among so-called humor columns for old people to complain about whatever new technology the youth of America are currently obsessed with.
I know my readers would not stand for such obvious curmudgeonly bitterness, which is why today's column will be completely different and instead will feature a younger middle-aged man complaining about the technology the youth of America are currently obsessed with.
See? Totally different.
As you may have guessed by now, I do not like Facebook. For those of you unfamiliar with Facebook, I can describe it like this: Imagine if everyone you have ever known, from old high school classmates to co-workers to family members, all gathered in a giant room on the Internet. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Internet, ask your kids.)
In this room, you are constantly bombarded with a never-ending stream of meaningless small talk. Imagine a party at which people constantly approached you to give 10-second updates on their lives, such as "Seth Brown is eating squid" and "Seth Brown bought another board game" and "Seth Brown should move on with his column."
I know, we call those parties "Reunions." But imagine that, instead of progressing to more meaningful conversation, you were trapped in a never-ending party where hundreds of people rapidly approach you with updates on minutia, never progressing to anything interesting. It would be like trying to spend time with your friends to feel more connected
Welcome to Facebook.
Anyway, this giant Internet room called Facebook is like a terrifying twisted version of "This Is Your Life." (Ask your parents.) People from parts of your life that were never meant to cross will leave you messages on the same public wall that everyone can see. As an added bonus, anyone can post pictures of you and link them to your profile so everyone can see them.
If this seems like a good idea, I suggest you try this little mental exercise. First, think of the last few parties you were at where you got a little crazy, or even when you were mostly innocent but things around you got crazy. Now, consider the possibility that a friend has captured photographic evidence of this evening. Finally, ask yourself how you would like that friend to show that picture to your parents, your co-workers and your potential employers.
I thought so. One of the troubles with living in a highly documented age is that it becomes far too easy for people to be made aware of our less prim, proper and virtuous moments. Obviously, most people have moments like these, since most people have a life (with the exception of humor columnists). One day, I hope we will all accept that most people have personal lives and not let it cloud our judgment of their professional capabilities.
Meanwhile, however, we like to maintain the polite fiction that we are Victorian role models and would never deign to sully our good morals. Thus, when an employer finds that photo of you with a drink in your hand, all of a sudden, you have lost your teaching job.
Or you could be an Olympic champion for whom everything is going along swimmingly, and then a little photo surfaces of your recreational tube-breathing exercises, and there goes your endorsement deals.
I was hoodwinked into making a profile on Facebook long ago, when I learned I was missing parties to which the invitations were only through that nefarious site. I used to log on to Facebook to delete photos tagged with my name, but I've given up. In fact, I'd like to switch tracks entirely.
If you have a Facebook account, feel free to add me as a friend and play along! Simply flip to a few random photos and tag someone or something in them with my name. It can be your younger brother at a party, or your grandmother, or a kitten, or even a fire hydrant. That way, if a prospective employer starts looking for photos of me on Facebook, there will be something interesting to see.
Seth Brown enjoyed his squid dinner. Seth Brown just finished his column. Seth Brown appears weekly in the Transcript and weakly on his Web site at www.RisingPun.com.