Saturday, January 12, 2008

In which Tim "compares" people on facebook, or not...

So a few minutes ago I was browsing friends pages on facebook, and was surprised to see my profile picture in the middle of my friends profile, with the caption "best to work with" underneath it. Turned out it was connected with the "compare your friends" function. I signed into it just to see what it's like, and was very quickly bothered.

This program shows you two of your friends pictures, and asks you to compare them on some given quality. Examples of what I saw would include "Which has the best smile?", "Which would you rather sleep with?", "Which is more reliable?", "Which has the better body?". When you are done comparing that set, it gives you another one. You can keep comparing and comparing and comparing your friends with each other all day long. You can look and see what people have ranked you as (apparently a lot of people think I am trustworthy. Thanks.), but you can't see who the people are that are saying these things.

This thing bothers me for several reasons. First of all, it's a way for people to tell their friends what they think about them without having to look them in the eye. If your friend is reliable, or smart, or has a great body why not just tell them that? Why does affirmation have to be given in secret?

Second, this program turns people into objects of amusement and consumption. My female friends are no longer people with emotions, minds, souls etc. but simply objects that facebook intends me to take pleasure in comparing. It doesn't feel right to make a game out of people. Connected to that, it's extremely degrading for individuals to have their bodies and personalities compared to other peoples in a public forum without giving consent. How many of us are being compared without knowing it? Privacy violation, anyone?

Bah. It makes me angry.

1 comment:

Morela said...

Good post.