A virtual nation

Facebook membership could be 100 million short of the U.S. population soon.

It is scary sometimes how relationships form our lives. The closer we get, the more it hurts. âÄúHey,âÄù I typed to my roommate on Facebook chat. âÄúWhat are you doinâÄô?âÄù âÄúNot too much.âÄù Pablo has commented on Justin AndrewâÄôs photo. âÄúJust some homework. Hey. Could you turn the roomâÄôs light on?âÄù I walked across the darkened room and flipped the switch. I walked back and sat down in front of my laptop, looking at Pablo out of the corner of my eye. âÄúJustin Andrew was smashed in Mexico,âÄù he typed. âÄúHa.âÄù Sometime this week, according to the New York Times, Facebook is supposed to register its 200 millionth user . It is enormous, a country of its own, and it has become a necessary social function for an exponentially-growing amount of people. ItâÄôs only necessary, of course, considering the paralleled explosion of information we must deal with in our lives. The amount of information in one week of New York Times is more than an average person of the 17th century would have seen in an entire lifetime, after all. I can find out anything about anyone. I am more efficient than GhostNet, too. But why do I want to be? Because I want to waste my time with people I care about. Though IâÄôm friends with the usual dropouts from my life (high school soccer team, I look to you), I only talk to the people on Facebook that I really care about. I want to share everything about myself and know everything about YOU. Is it possible to know everything about YOU? IâÄôd like to think so. IâÄôd like to remain in touch with YOU, to show you everything I like about myself, and for you to reveal every last drop of YOU. ItâÄôs nothing more than I would do in Real Life. Peer pressure keeps me here and I know to leave. When IâÄôm done with college, I say, I wonâÄôt need all these friends, because IâÄôll be secure with who I am. Two of my friends recently left Facebook because they felt alienated from the genuine people they thought they knew. Indeed, the incredible amount of people now circulating in cyberspace makes it almost impossible to feel alone or abandoned with numerous support groups, blogs, journal entries, e-mails, twitters, or just plain old Facebook photos. âÄúHeâÄôs wearing a cowboy hat in this one,âÄù Pablo types. âÄúHa.âÄù It is hard to be alone. We all assume we should be strong enough to get away from anything and to make our own lives; that remaining to feed off FacebookâÄôs weary social network is weakness. And it is, I think. But we (in majority) donâÄôt grow up in the mountains anymore. We donâÄôt listen to water-ouzels chirp, or adore a sunrise on a frigid day. We donâÄôt need to collect wood to warm ourselves through the winter. Our fathers donâÄôt have to die of some outlandish plague. Our sisters wonâÄôt be sold off for lambs. We donâÄôt need any of these things; instead, we have Facebook. We have accumulated such a wealth of information that on the Internet we are able to coexist with each other in such a way that it detracts from our Real Lives. There is now a balance between reality and perception, and everyone is terrified. âÄúUh oh, I think my girlfriend broke up with me,âÄù he types. âÄúUh oh.âÄù ItâÄôs a spooky world out there. Matt Grimley welcomes comments at [email protected]