'Social networking' is a misnomer if ever there was one. Sitting on your arse is a lot more accurate. MySpace was a gift from God when I first found it, not having to phone your friends and men who were actually interested in the same things as you (even if they were only 16, haha). What a rarity. Once you turned off the band requests and realised that you were too old to talk to teenagers no matter how good their music taste, it was perfect. I heard a fair bit of new music and even befriended Charlie Brooker. You can't knock that. I enjoyed writing a blog on there, until I realised it was demented ramblings. Then, like everything else, the shine wears off.
I resisted Facebook for a LONG time, mainly because of the name, and it seemed more mainstream and 'townie' than MySpace. But then of course, curiosity strikes, and you have a look. I hated the fact you had to befriend someone to see their page at first (I just want to look at people from my past, not actually speak to them) but then I realised it was quite good that people couldn't spy on ME. I already had to make my myspace profile private due to a friend going postal on me.
So now I've been on Facebook a couple of months, and something strange is happening. My past is being re-written. All those things you put in a box and sink, are suddenly floating to the surface. Nothing major at all (yet!): just ex-boyfriends that still look like teenage boys in your head now turning up bald, or worse, married. Your mates from school that you couldn't be arsed to stay in touch with now have wrinkles, or children. (Actually that's not true, I've only been in touch with one girl from school and she still looks like the teenager she was- bitch!) People you used to go to university with suddenly turn up having better jobs than you. It's outrageous. It's like a school reunion, except it doesn't stop at school, and it infiltrates your history, the very events that defined you become blurred. You wonder why you even fell out with that person, or if time can really heal everything. And it feels like it can, because everyone is just a square on a page, a face in a box and you can keep them there, you don't have to touch them, or let them see the reality of you.
With MySpace I made friends with strangers, and it took work to find actual people you knew, but on Facebook you go via your real name. Now people I work with (including my boss!) are there on the same page as the boy I went out with when I was 9, and someone who's heart I broke (well, probably not) and old friends and new friends who may not like each other, and family and it's just a head-fuck and a mess.
It's good to keep these parts of your life separate. It's good to keep the past in the past. Yet it's morbidly fascinating not to. I want to know everything about everyone. And to pretend that I'm doing well, of course.
The strangest bit is looking through the friends of that boy or girl you went to school with, and recognising loads of their friends. What do you do if they request to be your friend? You were never friends with them. But you feel a strange affection for them because they are from your home town and you remember playing rounders with them or going to the same birthday party as them once when you were 10. Suddenly you are looking at your home town through rose-tinted sunglasses when actually, it's just a fucking dump full of tossers.
Yes. Facebook is confusing. But it does have Scrabulous. So I have to keep going back, and trying to remember how the past really was, not this sanitised version of it. It's a struggle to keep everything in boxes. Except Scrabulous.