Wednesday, September 24, 2008

People Watching, and Why I Love The New Facebook

I love people-watching. It is truly an art, I've learned, and so much of this art is based on context. People have interlocking back stories. Walls can't physically talk, but the flies on them can if you listen close enough.

I'm convinced that the new Facebook was made for people-watchers. Now, to dispel a common misconception, Facebook is not for stalkers. There is a fine line between people-watching and stalking. Myspace is for stalkers, and Facebook is for people watchers.

Facebook statuses are to wordsmiths what avatars are to everyone else. They are the new Main Street that we can all stroll down and interact with each other on. Sometimes it's a mere peripheral glance, sometimes its a double take, sometimes we pause our busy day, put down our bags, and have a conversation. That's what I like about the new Facebook: we have more control over how we will stroll the virtual Main Street.

The new Facebook also makes it much harder to hide what we really are. People have traditionally been all about making their online personas seem like a really distorted reflection of themselves, like an image from a carnival funhouse mirror. From photoshopped pics to Bios filled with such buzz-adjectives as "chill, random, spontaneous, and drama-free", online personal profiles are as narcissistic as they are dishonest.

The new Facebook, I think, shows us in a much more honest light. We see each other not as our doctored, scripted photos, but as the candid shots we were tagged in, showing up on the news feed. We can say what we want on our bio, but what we will see first is what others say about us. That may sound shallow, but let's be honest, it's a reflection of the real world.

I like the fact that the new Facebook gives us less liberty to litter our pages with applications. To return to the Main Street analogy, we all look pretty much the same as we stroll along and pass each other by. We are all wearing one outfit of clothes, maybe carrying a bag or two. We are not carrying every single piece of flair that we own to advertise our salient features.

I have seen people protest the new Facebook by the herds. Such protest is the new go-to Facebook status du jour. These people just don't understand the art and science of people watching.

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