Am I missing the point of facebook? or Why Lincoln is crap.

Yesterday, after going cold turkey for 37 days (yes, I was counting), I reactivated my facebook account. Who knows what precipitated this move: a fear that a big party’s going on somewhere and I’m not invited? Nosiness? A nagging suspicion that if I’m no longer parading myself on my very own cyber-rag then I’m not really here at all? A messy flat and some reading that needs avoiding? Anyway, whatever the real reason, the one I gave was that I needed to re-emerge to tell the world how truly crap ‘Lincoln’ is.

And truly, it is. I mean Spielberg can put a slick film together, we all know that, and if painting by numbers is your thing, and you like those numbers to add up to a Jack Vettriano, then maybe you’ll go for ‘Lincoln’. I was left cold. And just a little irritated. Of all the complex stories that could have been told about the 16th President of the USA, the workings on Capitol Hill, the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery, this film seems to have opted for the most crassly simplistic, one dimensional, hero-worshipping, whitewashing one of all. Really, he should have stuck to sharks and aliens. Oh, and I liked that one about the truck.

Daniel Day-Lewis, all got up in comedy whiskers and a death-like pallor, chanelled his inner Atticus (Henry Fonda did better) while marginal, simple black folk look on in admiration. Or is it adoration? Really, 50 plus years ago when Harper Lee gave us such sorry representations of black characters in ‘Mockingbird’, we winced a bit, but let it pass. The civil rights movement was in its infancy, ‘black power’ hadn’t yet taken centre stage, in its own way the work was revelatory, and, importantly, the whole thing was couched in such sublime prose you’d forgive it almost anything. But you’d think in 2013, what with a black President ‘n’ all, a little human complexity could be given a voice. To be fair on the great SS though, this cartoonish representation isn’t reserved solely for his black characters: no-one really escapes the flattening. I expected Mickey Mouse to pop up with a frying pan at any moment and literally flatten the lot of ’em. At one point, an actual mouse did scuttle across the bottom of the screen, projecting a cheeky black shadow in its wake. Honestly. The Barbican really ought to contact pest control.

Back to the reactivation of my facebook account, though. The first thing I noticed was that my roll-call of friends had decreased in number. I had expected this, but what was marginally interesting is that I have no idea who the hell are no longer my facebook friends. Scroll down and stare as I might at image after image, the absent faces do not present themselves to my mind. Not revelatory, I know, but this does highlight the very particular nature of being a ‘facebook friend’. I took another look at my friends list and at a rough guess, I reckon that fewer than 20% of those on it are actually, in the traditional sense of “I like you, you like me, let’s sit in the pub and have a beer together”, friends. Am I missing the point of facebook?

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6 comments

  1. ricardocastellini

    I think the prime goal of Facebook was to be a place for social interaction, exchange of information and opinions, and connection between people. But I think it became more like a psychiatrist clinic, where people go to find themselves with a periscope over the social ocean and to find a cure for their daily frustrations. Having access to other people’s lives is like a mental practice of comparing yourself with somebody else all the time, even if it’s not conscious. I believe that everything in life is relative and dialectic, so Facebook works as this dialectic machine that makes us confront different realities. Only the astute and wise ones will survive, Hanna!

  2. EuroScholasticJournalism

    It’s so interesting to read this today – the review, yes, as Lincoln is “on my list”, and my Facebook newsfeed has been full of nothing but raving reviews about it – but I was interested in your thoughts on Facebook I’ve been having my own struggle with it and its point. I had posted some (131, to be exact) photos from a pretty amazing trip to Iceland (the country, not the frozen food shop…) and out of 350+ friends, only 4 liked my album and 1 commented on it. Now, I wasn’t expecting my Facebook friends to nominate me for Photographer of the Year, but, I’m not going to lie, I took some pretty amazing pics (mainly due to the subject matter not my skills as a photographer) and only FOUR people liked them? I just kind of shrugged and thought, “Hmm…that’s a bit surprising, but what are you gonna do?” So, this past weekend, I posted a photo from a surprise, invite-only, pre-gig sound check for a beloved band I was seeing in Amsterdam; 8 likes. A little better than my Iceland album, but it got me thinking. If my Facebook friends are truly my “friends”, certainly they should have realized just how special this experience was for me. I wasn’t doing to it as an infamous Facebrag (okay, maybe there was a little bit of that…) but I was really just excited to share with my “friends” that this had happened – and it was pretty freaking cool. But only 8 of my friends recognized that. And that somehow mattered in a way that made me think about what I am using/depending on Facebook for? On top of that, those thoughts led to thoughts about how I could regulate my use – should I not bother posting pictures at all if my friends are apparently not interested in seeing them anyway? (Having said that, I look at many of my “friends'” photos every day and I rarely throw a “like” their way.) Then what should I do with all of my photos if I’m not going to post them on Facebook? Or, is it that I posted them too late and the notification was buried in my friends’ newsfeeds by the time they woke up in the morning? Maybe it’s that Facebook is regulating what my friends are seeing from me as it seems to be doing with what I am seeing from my friends. And, perhaps the most important question of all: Why do I care this much? Perhaps a break is in order for me, too.

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