Written by Bwog Staff
In which Bwog contributor CML breaks down Facebook’s flashy new features, for those of us too scared to log on since they arrived on the feed.
While my brain has languished thousands of miles away from Columbia, Mark Zuckerberg and his henchmen have been busy, busy bees. Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched assiduously as Facebook has undergone a great transformation, having installed a platform that enables CS-savvy users to add their own applications to the site. The explosion in possibilities leaves me yearning for its bygone days of narrow scope, even though I got my account barely more than a year ago.
Whether this Zuckerbergian gambit is intended to take over the lives of the 25-and-under set, or if it’s merely a plot to fatten the proverbial cow/website before leading it to the slaughterhouse/IPO, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the array of possible new accoutrements can get overwhelming. Without further ado, an overview of some of the best, the worst, and the loudest bells and whistles:
Marketplace: Undoubtedly the most ambitious and most official of the additions, Marketplace is basically Facebook’s version of Craigslist. If you wish to hawk your wares or find employees, you can place an ad for free in one of five distinct categories (For Sale, Housing, Jobs, Other, and Free Stuff); if you wish to find wares to buy or find employment yourself, you can place an ad for free in one of four distinct categories (Item Wanted, Housing Wanted, Looking for Work, Other Wanted). Restrictions are lax enough to the extent that I was able to post the above ad in “Jobs” under “Writing/Editing” [picture of bwog sycophant ad], but traffic is stagnant enough in “Jobs” and other categories that I felt bad about leaving it up. Still, “For Sale” is a far more convenient way of passing off your old cursed Orgo textbook to some poor bastard than posting fliers around campus, although still far inferior to the late trading site Dogears.net.
30 Boxes Calendar: A high-tech, sophisticated response to the now-obsolete real-life wall calendar, 30 Boxes allows the user to click on a date and type words into a little box. The words then appear in the box corresponding to the date you selected, just like a corporeal calendar. But you probably check your Facebook far more often than you check that unruly thing hanging above your kitchen table. You can also share your entire mundane routine almost real-time with the world by adding it to your profile–as banal as my summer is, I bet you’d get a kick out of checking it once or twice.
Gift Box: The gift box, though not really a recent thing, is notable for being the most immediate progenitor of all this chicanery. For the nominal fee of a dollar, you can buy a 64×64 image for your new special someone to be displayed in his profile at his discretion, to show him that you just care that much.
iLike: The Borat-meets-Steve-Jobs hybrid of a name notwithstanding, iLike boasts a plethora of features ranging from the to the terrifyingly accurate “Discover New Music,” which gets you “free mp3s to match your tastes.”[picture of beethoven/related artists] You can also see which (popular) bands are on tour, “Play the iLike Challenge” (basically a music version of the Facebook staple, the “Friends Game”), or “Add songs to your profile” so the rest of the world can know how suave your taste in music is.
Video: A logical progression from the now-ubiquitous Facebook photos, Video enables you to upload and view, well, videos of yourself and your friends and fellow Facebook-denizens, which is pretty cool but must be taxing on the server space.
X me: Are you tired of poking people when you want to bang them? Are you sick of this middle-school beating around the bush, or lack thereof? Are you ready to graduate to more overt forms of Facebook flirtation, like punching in the arm, saying mean things, or outright molestation? Do you also want to be able to get someone’s attention by “doing” something to them nonsexual as well? Then X Me is for you. Consent remains sexy.
Games: The “Games” app features a staggering selection of six games, including the two-player Tetris euphemism “N-blox Evil Edition,” the sexually-repressed-preteenish “Stripjack,” and the objectively moronic “Wasabi,” description: “Place your sushi strategically on your tray, and then try to eat all your opponent’s sushi before they eat yours! Just don’t get it up your nose!”
The Compass: No longer will the vague labels “Very Liberal” or “Conservative” suffice to explain your political views on Facebook: The Compass (from Washingtonpost.com) offers a ten-question survey that pretends to compute it to a much more accurate degree, then generates a nice image of a compass with the words “liberal” on the left, “moderate” in the center, “conservative” on the right, and a needle pointing to WHERE YOU STAND! As if Columbia students needed dumber and shallower reasons to judge each other.
My Last Songs Played: Now visitors to your Facebook profile can see that not only have you listed “Red Hot Chili Peppers” under your favorite music, but also that you listen to nothing else on iTunes, after you install an auxiliary program or two on your hard drive and wait a few hours for your music to be reorganized. Unfortunately, the ratio of street cred gained from the app to hassle undertaken from installing it is hella low. I couldn’t get this to work, but had I been able to, my last songs would surely have lit a fire under any women who viewed my scrawny white-guy profile: “Mussorgsky-A Night on Bald Mountain,” “Brahms-Piano Concerto No. 2 Movement 4,” and Brahms-Piano Concerto No. 2 Movement 3.”
Hot or Not: But in order to seduce, one must find a chick worthy of snaring—a “babia majora,” in the impeccable Latin of Mike Myers. Such a task becomes infinitely easier with the new application “HOT or NOT,” designed to appeal to the voyeur in us all, and a useful aid in sifting through the dirt of 2011ers to find a few diamonds worth taking advantage of. Posting your own photo, thankfully, is optional.
Horoscopes: And with your new lover, is there any subject more conducive to wrapping up an awkward and vapid conversation with a score than horoscopes? A wise man once told me that the key to seducing a woman is knowing more about her than she knows about herself: reading and reciting her horoscope is sure to make you a self-fulfilling prophet of love.
Causes: Designed specifically for the armchair activist in all of us, Causes lets anyone on Facebook to start a cause (samples range from the frivolous: “Eradicate Poverty” to the heartfelt: “HELP ME TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!”) and donate money to it. But aggregate donations for all causes seem to hover around four figures, and some leading intellectual luminaries, like Xavier Sala-I-Martin and Ayn Rand, contend that gifts of cash are either ineffective or immoral, leading me to the revelation that college students are, on the whole, poor and ill-disposed to throwing mounds of cash away.
Audio: Smacking of Myspace, but pleasantly easy to disable.
Conclusion: Orgiastic clutter does shake the darling aesthetic of Facebook, but its eternal chokehold on our lives shall not fade. Remember when everyone was quitting over the Newsfeed?