The newest Facebook “game” is making the rounds of the profiles of many people with whom I am friended and I find myself increasingly irritated and saddened as each new one appears.
Don’t often do this but….It occurs to me that for each and every one of you on my friends list, I catch myself looking at your pictures, sharing jokes and news, as well as support during good and bad times. I am also happy to have you among my friends. We will see who will take the time to read this message until the end. If you appreciate your friends from all over the world, go ahead and copy this into your status too, even if it’s just for a minute. I’m going to be watching to see who takes care of the friendship, just like me. Thank you all for being a part of my life. Copy and paste please, don’t share.
If no one reads my wall, this should be a short experiment. This is a Facebook game to see who reads and who just scrolls. So, if you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word, then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you. Please don’t add your word and forget or neglect to copy!
1. Despite the generic assurances that the poster really does enjoy his/her friends, there is a caveat. This “game” is a litmus test to see who actually takes the time to invest in equal measure in the relationship as proved by following the game rules. The poster declares he/she makes that investment in you but are you going to reciprocate by a) reading all the way through the post, b) copy and paste into your status, too, and c) reply with one word to describe how you met?
The manipulative quality of this particular game is in the statements that the poster has been a “support in good times and bad times” so taking time out to comply with the game rules is an “experiment” to see who is as good a friend as the poster alleges him/herself to be. I am saddened that proof of friendship is so trivialized with an “experiment”. If I were to play this game, how does this edify my relationship with that person? Is it really in their best interests to have manipulation condoned and facilitated?
2. It’s egocentric. Fundamentally this is a plea that people stroke the poster’s ego in a manner that requires they invest thought processes and time thinking of the poster and then writing a reply that makes the poster the main subject of the comments. Invariably the comments do include expressions of affection or love which, in my circle of acquaintances, is undoubtedly expected. If you have to provide the spark of initiative to get people to praise you, declare their affections in public places and jump through arbitrary hoops to demonstrate their steadfastness of friendship, what does that really say about you and the quality of your relationships? Does it edify my relationships to facilitate self-centeredness in a public forum? I don’t think so. I see these “games” as a sad commentary that I and others are guilty of not taking the time to privately affirm the relationships thus compelling the poster to go fishing for that affirmation in public places.
3. It’s a popularity contest. This breaks my heart. Within my circle of mutual friends I see various people posting the same game to the same circle of people. It quickly becomes very evident who exactly are the popular people and who are not. The number and quality of comments is often vastly different. Facebook has recently been cited by researchers as a cause of depression, feelings of isolation and loneliness for as many as 1 in 3 people due to their comparing themselves and lives to others. Facebook has become “an unprecedented platform for social comparison”. Study author Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University wrote, “The most common cause of Facebook frustration came from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction was ‘lack of attention’ from having fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends.” If you loved your friends, why would you engage in a game that has the distinct potential of causing others to stumble into sadness, depression and feelings of loneliness as they compare themselves to you and find that you appear to be more loved than others?