Friday, October 31, 2008

Facebook: The New Psychosis

A few months ago I opened an account on Facebook because it's the thing to do nowadays, and unlike Bebo or MySpace, it doesn't assault the casual observer with an obnoxious array of unbearable sound and graphics. On Facebook, everyone is the same. It all looks friendly.

Through Facebook, I have reconnected with a few old colleagues, classmates, and long-lost relatives. I have even picked up a couple of new friends. Because this is an election year, quite a few of these folks have taken to using their Facebook pages to thrust their views on politics and current events onto the rest of the world. You may, if you wish, identify your politics (usually with one word like "liberal" or "conservative") in your personal info. Generally, this isn't such a bad thing, because Facebook is the place to let people know exactly who you are. Many people define themselves according to their political beliefs.

Some of them link to specific candidates' serious Facebook pages, or join goofy little groups that are all about hating Palin, Obama, or whoever. I have chosen to keep myself apart from any of that, because as one Facebook profile I encountered said, "Politics and social networking don't mix". Since I am not involved in any sort of political activity, I have opted to remain neutral.

Some people, however, have gone beyond taking sides. They feel the need to identify with their candidate so strongly, that they have appropriated his name. Perhaps you have heard about the "Hussein" fad. Many people on the Left are so offended by the Right's alleged obsession with Barack Obama's middle name, that they have changed their Facebook name to "(First name) Hussein (Last name)". Like some guy named John McCain becomes John Hussein McCain just to make a statement.

It's witty, it's clever, and it's completely ridiculous. I have a hard time taking someone seriously when they screw around with Facebook naming conventions this way. Fortunately none of my Facebook friends (some of whom are Obama supporters) have gone with the pack on this one.

So of course, when I look up some folks with whom I've been out of touch for a while, lo and behold I find a Hussein. He's Greek. The man is also pushing age forty. His first and last name are of Greek origin, yet he drops a Hussein bomb smack in the middle. It looks odd. And stupid. I was going to send him a friend request, but now I am conflicted. How can I take this guy seriously when he has such a silly, cartoonish name? I may wait until after the election to contact him. If he drops the Hussein, I'll pick him up. But good grief...I don't want some loony on my friends list.

No comments: