We enter the cafeteria in waves. We look around scanning for friends. The self-proclaimed cool yell for each other from across the room. The louder we yell, the more important we feel.
All the cliques jostle for space in the lunch room: the jocks, the nerds, the thugs, everyone.
Importance is measured by volume and drama. Popularity is measured by number of friends, both true and imagined. Acceptance is decided by “others,” how we dress, speak, act.
We pretend our privacy, but relish rumor about others. Rumor becomes gossip and gossip becomes truth.
Territories are marked, that club over there, that organization opposite, the undefined along the wall.
We dread the cafeteria but it is a part of who we are and cannot resist its lure.
* * * *
One billion of us log onto Facebook. We scroll through the feeds, scanning for friends, some we have never met or will never meet. The Pope, the President, movie stars. We know more about the lives of strangers than we do about family members.
On one hand, we bewail the loss of privacy; on the other we hope our posts crest over the FB algorithm and go viral, and we end up on the 6 o’clock news or Ellen or Huffington.
We are willing to sell our privacy to strangers, so we worry about selfies, platforms, domains, brands. We put up with trolls and threats from people with too much time on their hands and too little brains.
We have redefined “news,” and grammar, and punctuation. We pin and tag and poke, meme and post. Every day we learn some new hook that keeps us lured to FB.
Instead of outgrowing the cafeteria culture we left behind in high school, we are reliving it through Facebook.