As if Facebook wasn’t already stalkerish enough

Santo Caruso

Another violation of civil rights that is similar in deviousness to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Patriot Act and the Domestic Security Enhancement Act has slipped passed by the inattentive eye of the American public. Yes, yet again our lives are being monitored, processed and broadcast without our permission, and more frighteningly, we cannot vote it out.

Facebook must be stopped.

Upon logging into my account to change the blurry group shot from Switzerland that has been my profile image for approximately a month (a direct violation of Facebook code of conduct articles II, your picture should look like you, and IV, you should be the only person in your picture), I was inundated with a tidal wave of information.

A girl I ran one year of track with in high school has added four movies to her interests section.

A boy I knew in sixth grade left a group called “We Are Pirates.”

A guy I knew vaguely from high school is now dating. Who, I haven’t the foggiest idea, but he is “in a relationship.”

A friend of my sister’s roommate has added pictures of something called “slap the bag.”

Every minute it changes, every minute I know more about people I never cared to learn that much about in the first place.

My ex-girlfriend is missing her new boyfriend.

My friends are joining a group without me. So what if it is called “The No-Santos Allowed Group,” I want in.

Everyone is making friends.

Now I have access to the day-to-day activities of nearly every person who has chanced to brush across my person in the last 10 years, and I feel completely alone.

Why do I need to go to my five year reunion in a few months? All of those random Eustace alum that I could have made awkward small talk with at a bar near my high school have posted their lives for the world to see.

Why should I try to meet up with my friends from Geneva when I can just make a group called “Le Cenacle,” and never have to see them again?Who needs face-to-face contact when I can have Facebook-to-Facebook mediated disconnection?

This all began with away message stalking. I have approximately 200 people on my buddy list, a modest number compared to some, but still more acquaintances than I will ever need to have. I potentially talk to 10 to 15 of these names, including my four roommates who live down the hall. On my list are friends’ random hook-ups from down the shore, girls I was friends with in high school who I could not pick out of a lineup now and, of course, my orientation group from freshman year.

Away message stalking gave birth to MySpace, whose creepiness seemed to know no bounds. The black-on-black theme and potential temptation of starting an online relationship with a girl who had a “pretty good looking face, but I’m just getting really…TO’d because, I mean, she hasn’t even sent me a full body shot yet.” Not a road I am looking to go down.

Then the evil empire of Facebook arrived. It started off innocently, just a network for people in college to find out about each other and meet new people with common interests, one of the most important facets of university living. It quickly evolved into an addiction with people checking profiles every few minutes and the new measure of power status: the number of people who request your friendship.

Is this how most friendships are formed? Can I walk up to a group of people at a bar and hand them each a slip of paper that says “Santo Caruso has requested to add you as a friend. Before we can do that, you must confirm that you are, in fact, friends with Santo. Please check this box or buy him a drink to confirm.”? Seriously, how much digital divide do we need? How far do we want the AC adapter to stretch into our lives before we are strangled (at least in terms of social skills) by the Ethernet cords?

I joked that the “News Feed” is a secret government ploy to spy in on our lives, but in the grand scheme of things, it is something worse. It not only makes us all into seedy voyeurs, poring over glowing screens at pictures of people from our past having fun; it is sharing excessive amounts of information with people we at least sorta, kinda, maybe know. These are people we could bump into in the “meat world,” and everyday they get a summary of what we have been doing courtesy of Facebook. Your cousins now know you are looking for “random play” and “whatever you can get” (which is a creepy option in its own right).

This increases the bandwidth buffer between our physical persons. We party in virtual reality instead of apartments; we congregate in chat rooms instead of over dinner; we type instead of talk…

Oh, wait, sorry, Facebook just told me a kid I was on the bowling team with lost his phone. This is important.