Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.

On Facebook

Posted by MikeCooper on September 3, 2008

I started this blog as a mouthpiece for my thoughts on voiceover-related things, but that will have to wait, as I’ve found myself sucked into in the whirlpool of social bookmarking, photosharing and status updates. It all started some months back with Facebook (cue Scooby Doo dissolve effect…)

 

My partner and most of my friends consider me to be a geek. Cute, perhaps, able to hold conversations on other matters, certainly, but a geek nonetheless. Bearing in mind my inherent geekiness, I avoided the whole bookmarking/networking thing for much longer than anyone would have expected, but a few months back I finally succumbed to the lure of Facebook. I now believe Facebook is like a drug. And if that’s true, and it is, then I’m hooked, and I’m a user.

 

It is my hypothesis that there are three distinct phases of Facebook, loosely akin to those experienced and documented by drug users:

 

1.   Non-user, and wary of getting involved

2.   Hooked, and needing more each day

3.   Recovering, in the manner of an alcoholic

 

I stayed in Phase 1 for a long time – long after even the least geeky of my mates had set up an account. “Are you on Facebook?” they’d ask. “You need to be on Facebook so I can invite you to stuff!” enthused my younger cousin. But I was scared, like when all my mates were trying to get me to take Ecstasy and all I could think about was Leah Betts. The problem I feared, was that dipping my toe in the water would lead to me losing my balance and falling in head first, and that taking the first pill would just be the start. And of course, I was right.

 

The euphoria after the first “hit” was palpable, and as strong, in its way, as any narcotic I may have “only inhaled” over the years. There was a sudden and compelling sense of belonging, and a realisation that I could now stay up-to-date on what everyone else was doing (without actually having to go to the trouble of phoning/emailing/meeting them). This stuff worked, and I was its latest and loudest advocate. I found myself uttering the words “Are you on Facebook yet?” to anyone within earshot, fully aware of the subtle but powerful presupposition that “yet” implied: that is, that they would be, sooner or later. Heady stuff, indeed…

 

Once the drug wears off, of course, there’s the withdrawal. Enter Phase 2.

 

In the world of Facebook, the addict’s need is sated, temporarily, by adding more and more “applications” in order to get the same high. Suddenly I was expected to play Scrabulous (RIP) at 3am, by virtue of the fact that, although I was on a night shift, my friends in Australia were up and about. People I barely knew informed me that I’d been bought and sold (a fantasy that doesn’t belong in public) without my consent or prior knowledge. And the world and his wife seemed to be challenging me become a vampire and “bite chumps”. Every time I logged in, the list of “notifications” and requests grew longer. As a mere mortal, what hope did I have of keeping control? As the hits kept on coming, I began to sense disillusionment, and developed a nagging sense of paranoia, like that of the cannabis user who’s had too much. All of this seemed to be eating away at the time I spent in the real world. Where would it all end, I wondered.

 

At this stage many users seem to accept that they’re caught in an interminable spiral of Facebook addiction. A large proportion of my friends appear resigned to their new lives – underlings of a mistress they can’t control, unable to rise above the constant cycle of Chump Biting, SuperPoking, and Egg Hatching in an attempt to recreate that initial “high”.

 

Others go “cold turkey” in an effort to escape the cycle. In my Inbox sits a solemn message. There’s no profile picture attached, for this soul has passed over, back into the real world. “I have decided to take a break from Facebook for a while,” it reads. “Below are my contact details if you would like to stay in touch”. Some small epitaph for one so brave.

 

And as for me? I’m on a strict diet: no “Friends” I don’t actually know, no “Applications” that serve no genuine purpose, and only occasional and strictly rationed “Poking” of those I find attractive and Would Like To Meet.

 

It’s a serious business to be sure, but I’m recovering, and will be for some time.

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