>>> Against Your Will
By staff writer John Marcher
November 4, 2007

I have a routine I go through when I open Firefox every day. First, I comb through a long list of sports news, world news, blogs, articles, and columns. Then, I move on to deleting emails. And last but certainly not least, I devote whatever time is necessary to porn sites, social utilities, and fantasy leagues (porn or otherwise). I suspect that most of you out there follow a somewhat similar routine tailored to your own interests. Most of my surfing is aimed at staying informed about international news,reading writers who are far better than me, and searching for that one porn clip that satisfies my current desires. However, there is one aspect of my daily routine which requires little to no brain activity and yet provides me with unceasing joy: Facebook.

I'm not going to sit here and break down for you the many different ways in which I enjoy Facebook. Especially when I can break them down into categories and get material for multiple columns out of them! So today I want to talk about one specific aspect of Facebook I enjoy: the pictures.

There are a variety of different aspects to the interaction with pictures on Facebook, and it starts with your own uploads. Posting pictures from the party last weekend and dutifully tagging the participants is a task tantamount to re-indexing the Library of Congress. When you upload the shots of your friend beer bonging three Natty Lights at a time, you're not just showcasing to the student body her penchant for binge drinking, you're also documenting for all the world her ability to control her gag reflex. It's also important to keep on top of the pictures other people tag you in. Whether the camera caught you picking your nose or making out with some Beowulf, it is a flow of information for the public eye which has to be tightly controlled.

“Watch someone's life progress without having to listen to them bitch incessantly.”

What's even more fun is checking out other people's photos. Nothing (non-sexual) beats finding someone you went to high school with, or an old friend you haven't seen in a while. Sure, it's informative and gratifying to see that the bully from 7th grade who beat you up now works at Blockbuster and goes to community college. But you don't start to really feel better about yourself until you click on his pictures and see he's now fat, balding, and has an ugly girlfriend. Or how bout the girl you had a huge crush on in high school who wouldn't give you the time of day who's now a chode with short hair and an ugly Chihuahua for her only friend. The satisfaction one can glean from reveling in the shitty lives of other people who once considered themselves better than you is endless, not to mention therapeutic.

Much like checking the AIM profiles and away messages of people you haven't talked to in years, you can stay caught up on old acquaintances without the boring tedium of actually having a conversation with them. Some of my friends have gone on from school to get married and have kids, or join the armed forces and fight in Iraq/Afghanistan. One guy I knew actually went to clown college and is now traveling with Barnum & Bailey Bros. Through the pictures posted on Facebook you are able to watch their life progress and be there with them through the good times and the bad, all without having to listen to them bitch incessantly.

Perhaps the best part of pictures on Facebook though, is checking out the pictures of hot chicks. What gives Facebook a clear advantage in this department over MySpace or Webshots, is the fluid nature of the tagging system. So a person’s profile is loaded not only with the pictures they uploaded, but all the pictures their friends tagged them in. Thus, it's a virtual compendium of opportunities to associate yourself with the student body at your school by hand-picking the people you find interesting or attractive and instantly accessing their entire cyber-hot network of friends too. This quasi-democratic aspect of the picture posting cuts down on the ability of any one person to control what pictures are viewable online and furthermore usually initiates the presentation of the most risqué pictures available.

Facebook is a powerful tool for meeting new friends, catching up with old ones, and finding amateur porn in the process. But the most powerful aspect of its interactive features is the fact that it allows for large caches of pictures to be posted and categorized by person, theme, or album. The seamless manner in which it intertwines profiles, pictures, and the events they are subscribed to is marvel to behold and by far the most informing aspect of any one person's presence on the web. No wonder Microsoft bought a 1.6% stake in Facebook for just under a quarter billion dollars.

By viewing even a handful of pictures you are able to garner more of an understanding of any one specific person than watching all their favorite movies, reading all their favorite books, and taking up all their interests combined. I hope that everyone out their reading this can accommodate the perusing of Facebook pictures in their daily web surfing routines like I have in mine.

Next week: A review of the new Facebook features and applets!