I’ve become fascinated with Facebook’s sense of time…it’s free of real time chronology….I keep seeing obituaries for people dead years ago, and news stories from the past get people outraged anew. You can will time, or more likely, Facebook wills you to accept whatever is posted as of the now, even if it isn’t. Time shifts suddenly, or it stops, or goes backwards, goes forward. Time hovers. Sometimes time disappears completely, and you’re looking into another universe where what was never was, string theory come to life. Done correctly, you can never die, or you can have died already, and we can all have your stuff. Combine this with all the fake news, and it’s all completely surreal. Take this post, for example, I wrote this three days ago next week, except I never wrote it, and it’s completely untrue. So there.
You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space — but any objections!
Elwood P Dowd, Harvey
Facebook exists outside of time. It’s like the past and present are one. A story ten years old will be posted and commented on as if it’s happening right now. Yesterday I saw a thirty year old story that people assumed was new. I politely pointed this out. The commenters didn’t see the point. Thirty years ago or now, it didn’t matter. Forget it Jake, it’s Facebook time.
I keep seeing hoaxes and urban myths reappear. They invariably are believed, often by the same people who knew they were hoaxes years ago when they went around via email. But email was a different universe. Different laws of physics. Time was sequential then. Email was how we communicated on the Internet, and the Internet was virtual reality. It followed the rules of reality. There was a then and a now, and what was then could not suddenly be now. People noticed.
People don’t notice now. And even if they do, they don’t care. They just hit the Like button. There’s time and there’s the like button. Liking trumps temporal reality every time. Facebook is becoming a whole other reality, devoid of linear time, devoid of objective truth, devoid of any standards of accuracy whatsoever. People will believe anything they see, and whatever is posted becomes reality, though only in Facebook. You repeat a Facebook story at a party and somebody will go to Snopes and make you look stupid. Someone else will go to Wikipedia and make you look stupider. There’ll be an orgy of smartphone fact checking at your expense. You’re not on Facebook anymore. Reality is harsh, real time is linear, and people can be rude, cruel and brutally sarcastic. They laugh, you turn red and retreat into the security of your iPhone. At Brick’s party, you post, surrounded by a**holes.
Sometimes I think that the Internet made people much more informed than they had ever been, and Facebook is rendering us all stupid again. But then again, Facebook is nicer. Pleasant, even. No one trolls, and no one’s an a**hole.
Years ago my mother used to say to me, “Elwood, in this world you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
Elwood P Dowd, Harvey