Blame it on AIM

Remember AIM?

Ever notice how it was a lot like Facebook? We created personal profiles. Our friends were called “Buddies” and we organized them using “Lists” instead of “Groups.” File sharing was available and, of course, there was messaging. AIM predisposed us to using Facebook before Facebook even existed.

For that, we should blame AIM for our current addiction to Facebook, and the inventors of AIM, Barry Appelman and Stephen William, should get a Christmas card from Mark Zuckerberg every year. At least a Christmas card. (Mark, are you even friends with them on Facebook? I can’t tell.)

What if we had known that AIM would cause us to spend close to seven hours a month on a site called Facebook? What if someone had warned us about Facebook’s deleterious effects?

Earlier this year on my other blog, onFacebook, I mused up some warning labels that Facebook should require new users to read before they create an account. Below is the post.

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Facebook warning labels — we could have known

Facebook should come with warning labels, just like drugs do. And toys. And heavy machinery. Cigarettes, microwaves and Walkmans.

But it doesn’t.

In my endless quest to help future social media sufferers, here are my warning labels for anyone thinking about joining Facebook or who is still clueless about its side effects, which range from mild to severe.

You can trust me. I’ve been on Facebook for 8 years and I only need to go on it now once or twice…an hour.

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Facebook usage warning label number 1: Do not use with alcohol. Alcohol intensifies effects. Doing so may i) cause you to become sentimental and to “Like” every story you see; ii) stalk your ex, then gaze out the window like the one where Ross and Rachel take a break; and iii) drop your phone on the dance floor or into your beer.

2. Do not go on it if you become pregnant, may be pregnant or think of becoming pregnant. Doing so may cause you to post pictures of your pregnant belly, frequently over nine months, and despite what people tell you to your face, it is weird seeing you with a thing growing inside of your body (especially because in previously-tagged photos, you sported butt shorts and took vodka shots off the chest of a bar back). In some women, in some situations, during certain stages of pregnancy, feelings of incredible sadness may arise when looking at profiles of younger, unmarried, childless friends. Feelings of inadequacy and great pressure to complete their duties as adult human beings may arise in other younger/unmarried/childless women, in some situations.

3. Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate dangerous/heavy/complicated/any machinery. Checking your Facebook while driving is illegal. Cops can’t tell if you’re texting or scrolling through your event’s invite list. In addition, if you kill someone while operating a vehicle because you were Poking someone back, everyone will hate you for the rest of your life. Especially the person you Poked.

4. May cause drowsiness. Avoid viewing vacation photo albums. Pay particular attention to traps, e.g. albums labeled with song lyrics, a clever pun or have numerals or the word “part” in their title, e.g. “Party in the city where the heat is on” and “You better Belize it!!!!! Part 3 :)”

5. May cause dizziness. After going off of Facebook for more than two consecutive days, exercise caution when resuming use. Shock to your system may occur during initial exposure to all the drivel on Newsfeed.

6. May cause nausea. This is the most common side effect of being on Facebook. You should expect to experience nausea at least once per logon. A short list of causes include i) sorting through incredibly gag-inducing, narcissistic status updates (e.g. “Day at work was terrible but came home to dinner and wine prepared by the best guy in the whole wide world! I am SOOO LUCKYYYY!”); ii) seeing pictures of pets doing normal pet things; and iii) viewing Mobile Uploads from attention whores or botards showing off their BODS. For example, a girl who uploads a picture of her derriere with the caption: “LOVE Casual Jeans Fridays at Work!”

7. May distort perception. Sufferers experience: i) inflated or deflated sense of self worth, indicated by habits such as counting the number of happy birthday posts, frequency of red notification alerts and the actual number in the red notification box; ii) impaired judgement about opposite gender: e.g. “We are in a poking war, I think she likes me” or “I think he made that status message visible to ME only!”; and iii) narrow-mindedness: “Jeremy Lin is the only thing Asian people care about?”

8.Anxiety. You may notice yourself: i) agonizing over what new profile picture to use; ii) deliberating with friend with whom you just took a picture on whether or not this new picture should be your profile picture; iii) deliberating with your mom/significant other/cat/single friends on what new profile picture to use; iv) signing up for sky diving because everyone else’s profile picture is of them falling from the sky; v) getting engaged or married, because everyday more of your friends are changing their relationship status to “Engaged” or “Married”; and vi) Getting divorced because…Facebook developed a “Divorced” relationship status…

9. Depression. Do not go on Facebook if you are a misanthrope, have problems talking about yourself, or have low self-esteem. Seeing happy posts from people may cause you to post sarcastic/nasty comments or status messages, such as: i) “Oh, she’s your ‘bff’? More like LESBOs!”; ii) “What’s your OTHER hand doing, hm?”; and iii) “A promotion? Did you get a RAISE, too, with OUR TAX DOLLARS!?” Everyone will think you are a miserable, jealous, misanthropic, diffident person.

Note: If you become depressed after going on Facebook, deactivate IMMEDIATELY. Remain deactivated for at least two years, and ask a trusted friend to change the password on your account so that you can’t reactivate until he/she feels you can use Facebook again in a healthy manner.

10. Addiction. You will know that you are addicted if: i) you find yourself on Facebook but have no memory of opening the browser or logging on; ii) you have uncontrollable urges to press the refresh/reload button. Nothing new appears but you continue staring, continue clicking; iii) your second monitor at work only has Facebook open; iv) you work with one hand on the mouse and the other on your smartphone’s Facebook App; v) you use it more than six times a day; vi) you go on it the moment you wake up and are still on it the minute before you go to sleep; and vii) you respond to questions about your life with: “Didn’t you see it on my Facebook?” If you become addicted, delete the Facebook App immediately, and turn off all email notifications for two days. Deactivate on day three. Remain deactivated for at least 1o years. See note above.

Important: The severity of these symptoms will vary if you are also on Twitter, LinkedIn or other similar social media. If any of the above symptoms persist for more than six consecutive days, call your mother or someone else who’s never used Facebook to give you some actual perspective on reality and life.

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