Monday, April 26, 2010

It's almost like falling in Like

It's possible...not bloody likely...but possible that you haven't heard about the controversy taking place around a recently formed Facebook group whose followers (now over a million of them) like a joke that drops a less-than-subtle hint about praying for the death of president Barack Obama. Odds are, if you haven't heard about it until now, there was enough information in that last sentence for you to form an opinion one way or the other about the matter. But just in case you want just a wee skosh more background, here you go...

What? - A page on Facebook's web site, created using the "Groups" application, dedicated to this joke: "DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE (sic). YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH (sic) FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN." Apparently, the Lord also took the user's spellcheck and access to the Caps Lock key. But anywho. Facebook's description of the application's function says, "With Facebook Groups, you can join and create up to 200 groups. Groups can be based around shared interests, activities, or anything you like. The Groups application page displays your recently updated groups as well as groups your friends have joined recently." Facebook users can indicate their support or approval of a Group by clicking a button that says "Like" (formerly "Become a fan of"). The number of users who do this is stored and displayed on the Group's front page.

Why? - Because there's a page on Facebook's web site, created using the "Groups" application, dedicated to every goddamn conceivable (or not) concept imaginable, such as "I like strawberries" (25 Likers) and "I don't like strawberries" (6, unLikers) and even "I use my cell phone to see in the dark" (2 Groups, over 3.5 million Likers combined, and no, I'm not kidding). I'm willing to bet there's a Group titled "I wipe with my left hand even though I'm right-handed" and over a hundred people like it but I am not willing to look it up for you. Sorry.

No, I mean why does this exist? - Oh. Sorry. Well, either because people really, really, really think that joke is hilarious or they really, really, really hate President Obama (I have a feeling we all know which one is the case). And because they can. "While it may be considered distasteful and objectionable to some, the Facebook page in question does not violate our policies," said Andrew Noyes, Facebook's manager of public policy communications. That policy is as follows: "Note: groups that attack a specific person or group of people (e.g. racist, sexist, or other hate groups) will not be tolerated. Creating such a group will result in the immediate termination of your Facebook account." So while this Group does indeed mention "a specific person", apparently it's not considered "hate" or an "attack", presumably because it's a joke or a prayer or a joke of a prayer and therefor, harmless. Somebody should ring the idiots at the Westboro Baptist Church and let them know about this right away.

When? - This particular Group started on April 10th, about two weeks ago, and as I'm writing this, 1,094,824 registered Facebook users have gone on record as Liking it. Of course, while we're discussing "When", it should be noted that this isn't fresh material; hackers back in January got into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's web site and posted "Dear God, In 2009 you took my favorite singer -- Michael Jackson, my favorite actress -- Farrah Fawcett, my favorite actor -- Patrick Swayze, my favorite voice -- Neda. Please, please, don't forget my favorite politician -- Ahmadinejad -- and my favorite dictator -- Khamenei -- in the year 2010." Maybe Carlos Mencia is behind it?

Who? - You mean who did it? Nobody knows. It was posted anonymously (shocker!) by someone who just listed a city (Marysville, Ohio) and zip code (43040). Although I suspect that it would be pretty easy to find out. Enjoy those tax audits, Marysville! Who's liking it? Over a million, possibly a lot more by the time you read this, angry and increasingly bent out of shape people.

Where? - All over the place, since Facebook is available worldwide and a public group like this is open to anyone who wants to participate. Although, taking into consideration how dominant Facebook is in social media traffic, while a million of anything is a lot, a million or so people participating in something like this isn't that big of a deal. Remember, more than twice that many people want you to know that dumb old light bulbs can kiss their asses as long as they have their trusty cell phone shining like a beacon in the darkness. But it's certainly enough for us to get upset about, so by all means, carry on.

What next? - The trial of public opinion has already begun and has already taken the track that all public discourse seems to follow these days: The plaintiffs cry foul, the defendants respond with "It's free speech" and "You started it", followed by several volleys of "Did not, Did too" before devolving into name calling, middle finger extending, placard waving, boycott threatening and nothing resolving. This continues until the next big thing rolls along in about a week or so.

That pretty much covers it. You're welcome.

1 comment:

Wildhair said...

I'm sad to say I know a couple or more of my friends are probably in deep 'like' with that group. I don't know for certain but judging by their blatant 'dislike' of our President ... OK, they aren't necessarily frieeeeends, but people who are acquaintances... on Facebook. Those people also think Nickelback 'rawks' and Twilight is the best movie. EVAR!