With valuable input
Ann Thomas


Facebook:   copywriter toronto pianist

Bootcamp for the monitored life. 2007

"Facebook is a one-way mirror.  It's gets us to sit still in front of it so it can take our picture.
While we're diggin our fine selves, it's going thru our dresser drawers and selling our undies. "

--M Tree

Hey, it’s me, your lab rat reporting from the food-pellet levers of facebook.

Facebook is about three things, and it’s real easy to explain them.  It’s also about a fourth thing, less easy to explain and way creepier....

Once upon a time, there was TV.  If you were actually on it for a coupla seconds, you were excited and waved Hi Mom.  People still wave, cuz we’re a million-year-old species that’s only been able to see ourselves on a machine for about the last 50-ish years.  So the woohoo ain’t going away any time soon.  Our neurology just can’t help but find it riveting.  This explains sports bars.

Once there were marketers.  And they phoned us during dinner to ask about personal stuff that’s none of their biz, so they could advertise to us.  The surveys were long and boring and invasive.  We all whined, and still whine, “I do NOT have time for this.” 

Once there was facebook.  Where you could be “on tv” sorta; you could be famous now, today, this minute.  On your very own personal widdle tv.  And you could control your fame and broadcast it to whom you choose.  And Mom is SO not allowed in there--so no Hi Mom, but Piss Off Mom.

How do you keep satisfying the HiMom urge, the urge to be seen on a machine--and the marketers’ need for super-custom data that won’t take 17 minutes every evening at dinner time?


Facebook gives you all the HiMom you—and everyone else—can possibly stand.  And more.
Facebook gives the consumers [who won’t take a ten minute survey] a reason to spend an hour or so EVERY SINGLE DAY spewing their super-personal data, their endlessly refined and updated personal deets.


And f-book scoops up the kind of detail NO ONE would provide on the phone during dinner:  Age, education, music, literature, beliefs, values, interests, affiliations, family structure, media habits, travel patterns, with pictures of all of the above, if humanly possible.   [scroll down, I've pasted it in tiny print below]

If you dare get bored and stop feeding your data to the machine, then there are loads of cute ‘n’ clever little applications that let you do compelling stuff like sending a message to someone that says you’ve thrown a sheep at them.

It’s delightfully whimsical, popcorn-addictive kinda stuff AND every single one of these cool little apps requires that you disclose your identity and allow access to your ‘information’ before you can use it.  EVERY one.  (Clues there, anybody?)

Why is this mandatory?  Cuz they ain’t doing this for their health, that’s why.  Info is currency.  Your identity doesn’t just have value, your identity IS value.  It’s the new coin of the realm.  “Will work for data.”

Turns out it takes a lotta time and pesky monkey-work to feed all your dinner-time marketing-survey data to facebook.  Everyone knows that; it’s a running joke on facebook/crackbook:   "Kiss yr time goodbye, suckah"


Ok, so what about a facebook that you never have to administrate?  How cool would that be?   If you extrapolate their model, that's where you end up.  (Without your red shoes.)

Everything you no longer have to do for yourself is cool, ya?   Absolutely. 

So to recap, campers:

We start out with Hi Mom, and end up with a system that lets us have all the screen time we want – woohoo – and all we have to accept is transparency.  Or monitoring.  Or surveillance.  Whatever you want to call it.  It’s all just so, like, amazing. So ... social.   So ... instant.

Facebook puts it this way in their phrase below, as a mandatory on every single cute app that they take zero responsibility for (and they word it in the first-person to make it sound like this was the user’s idea):

“Know who I am and access my information.” 

Wow.  And so you're gonna do, um, WHAT with "who I am" and "my information"?  The purpose is...?  Unstated?  No way!  Good thing it's permanent nap-time out here.

Well, guess what?
These guys are paying the mortgage on the Bahamas place by making a niche out of pimping all that great data that the facebookians have so generously spewed.

From the privacy page related to sharing of info with faceook developers, your "information" includes this:
(b) Examples of Facebook Site Information. The Facebook Site Information may include, without limitation, the following information, to the extent visible on the Facebook Site: your name, your profile picture, your gender, your birthday, your hometown location (city/state/country), your current location (city/state/country), your political view, your activities, your interests, your musical preferences, television shows in which you are interested, movies in which you are interested, books in which you are interested, your favorite quotes, the text of your "About Me" section, your relationship status, your dating interests, your relationship interests, your summer plans, your Facebook user network affiliations, your education history, your work history, your course information, copies of photos in your Facebook Site photo albums, metadata associated with your Facebook Site photo albums (e.g., time of upload, album name, comments on your photos, etc.), the total number of messages sent and/or received by you, the total number of unread messages in your Facebook in-box, the total number of "pokes" you have sent and/or received, the total number of wall posts on your Wall™, a list of user IDs mapped to your Facebook friends, your social timeline, and events associated with your Facebook profile.  [And your breast/penis size.  Ok, i added that to see if you were paying attention.]  This is the page

Think--just for shits and giggles--about the diff between being called at dinner and grilled about this stuff--or being given a fun game to play every day that soaks up all this stuff while yer shitting and giggling and going “oh wow, i just got a friend request from someone who was on the next change-table in daycare!” -- "AND they threw a sheep at me!"

...is it just me or is this microscope-up-the-butt creepy?

Next step, with lube:

Now that we have all the screen time we want, and can edit our lives for superior production values and plotlines (I salute you, college girls pouting over one shoulder posing with shot glasses) we’re in a monitored and accountable system in which—inevitably—lack of bulletins, unaccounted whereabouts, start to be the exception.  Facebookians know this already:

“You went where?   So where are the pictures!?”

An experience ain't really complete –or maybe isn't even considered to have happened--unless the media version exists.

As we get more annoyed with the monkeywork involved in life-recording, we’re going to actually believe that having this automated is a swell idea!

[As long as we get a decent audience share, we’re happy, cuz no one wants to look like a loser.   We all know that we can have a f-book page that’s cooler than our real life!]


  • yessss...
    welcome to the horrors of facebook
    i knew you would get it hehe
    so fucking addicting
    i'm not even joking
    you'll find yourself thinking:
    oh no i need more pictures
    oh damn i made a drunk comment on someones wall last night
    oh shit i'm a loser with not enough wall posts
    etc. etc.

Now think way back to the researchers calling at dinner time with their butt-invading surveys....

Surveyors could NEVER get anyone to agree to the time and disclosure of personal preferences that facebook makes hip and fun.  And it’s already completely done.  The mind-shift is in the bag.

The briefest possible equation of f-book:  Attention = Transparency

“Pay attention to me!   Oh, you are?
Ok, then I’ll tell you everything.”

Facebookians’ egos are stroked ceaselessly while they’re being milked for a level of detail that would NEVER be workable in the old model.  No surveys, research groups, nor phone calls are EVER going to get anyone to dish the nuance that they do there--voluntarily, cheerfully, compulsively.

Is this too amazing?  Is this too perfectly way-too-late-to-do-anything-about-it?

The whole site is designed for streamlined, automatically-cataloged data collection, micro detailed psychographic/demographic stuff--that is, hard dope to an advertiser.  Or a Department of Homeland Security.

f-book is as much about providing a Social Utility-- as GM is about providing a Ride To Church. 
Yup, the product can be used for that , but it ain't why it's there.   f-book is about creating a game to collect data , which is turned into coin.  And weaponry against Homegrown Terrorism.  We really are the hamsters in the wheel, lured there by all the mirrors with Yer So Cool written on them.  (Still, remember they're one-way mirrors...)

f-book is a monstrous, phuktillion-tentacled milking machine, happily sucking up the rich data that the stroked egos just can’t stop emitting. 

It has a nicotine effect on the psyche and users (!) don't employ words like "addiction" lightly or without a nervous kinda smirk.   I am one.  (And I'd really dig it if everyone would look at my trip map and admire my ability to negotiate the purchase of airline tix.   And to pack luggage.)

Eventually, we’ll look back on how clumsy and manual-labourish this all was in 2007.  We’ll snort like we do over that computer from the 1960s that was a room full of mechanical wtf with pump-handles and stove-knobs and stuff

[below:  state of the art, U of Waterloo, 1967]
Facebook today is stove-knobs.  But the essential framing is in place and it goes like this:

Each person is a transmitter of as much evocative detail of their life as possible.
The benefit to the transmitter?  Right now, exactly nothing; it’s archaic, anachronistic, a holdover from the network media era, when Hi Mom was a big thrill to a species that recently walked upright.   That was when millions could all watch us waving Hi at once.

Then digital life made it possible to say hi all dang day, but to a few at a time – (the number of people reading this? Swell example.)

So now we're our own producers, writers, directors of the series that is Self, with new episodes DAILY.  Take that, networks1--Think what it would cost you to do THAT.  The ultimate reality channel:  My Very Own Life.

And our lives are now currency for the datapimps and we’re still smiling and handing it all over.  Backin in the door with pants down.

The “news” on f-book is non-life-threatening, and could be survived without:  Who just woke up, who’s hung over, who just bought what, who has a wedgie or a woody.

Still, once you’ve checked your ‘newsfeed’ and learned who’s constipated, there’s the gluey keyhole effect of snooping around in people’s trivia and flotsam.  (hey!  f-book is like a large medicine cabinet at a party!)

The collateral apps--popping up like mushrooms out of horseshit--give unlimited groups of datapimps permission to suck up more stuff about who you are and what you do and with whom and what it feels like and what you really desperately want -- and mostly, what you can afford.

And the tra-la-la of it, is how it just shimmies along and we go “cool!”  We all dig it to the max.  We love to be watched.  All the time.  Everywhere we go.

Tarantino-ishly, I say “This is one charming mf of a program.”



Facebook, and it's metastisized growth called Twitter, are tutorials in the monitored existence. 

Facebook is the sunny side of surveillance, slid smoothly into the culture via the last vestige of "hey, that's ME!" in the chimp psyche.

And it's just going to get "better"! 

facebook + GPS + GoogleEarth = wayy better
So if we start with facebook, add GPS (ooo, and then GoogleEarth!--which you can now use to check the back of your hair or your possibly fat-lookin ass in those jeans), then we'll be seen, heard, and broadcast...every breath we take.    Every step we make.

So?  Are you ready for your close up?

--the end

WHAT FACEBOOK FEELS LIKE -- seriously, this vid will make you wonder if we should turn in our badges as higher primates..

[credit for image below by clicking]


If you have
a big mouth,
use it to shed light.


Drivel archives:

Boomers re-brand mortality
[celebrating the Big 0-0!]

Bummy Mommies
Waiting for baby to touch base?

Gay Marriage:
Pray to Elizabeth Taylor

The Soul of the Threesome

Cars and Blenders:
Appliances as lifestyle statements

What's up, dad?
Buddy, can you spare a decade?

Tears and Money Shots:
The Obscene View of Grief

The Frankenfamily:
Dedicated to
children of divorce

Drama and GPS

Murkin Theology:
The all-you-can-eat-buffet as an altar of worship

SUVs and Pet Rocks: Differently Abled products

Dear Single Men

Ssssssteam: Summer Misses Us!