My friend’s mother has become obsessed by Myspace – but not in order to get laid (I hope), or even to add Kevin Rudd as a fiend. No, not a bit of it. She’s not even a member. What she is (like the lion’s share of boomer/3LO listeners) is ‘deeply concerned’ by the ‘growth of social networking sites’ among youth. It’s something she finds both alarming and captivating: the idea of teens hooking up to gatecrash, bully, stab or fuck each other is something that exerts a morbid fascination for her, like many of her generation. This is something, after all, which is off limits to them. A whole generation who make do with key parties, stagflation, negative gearing and ‘sniff and stiff’ watch in horror and envy as their progeny accomplish acts of mindbending depravity and anonymity, achieving hard-ons with mouse-clicks in a way previously unimaginable. But I tried to explain to my friend’s ‘concerned’ mother that, contrary to what John Faine would have you believe, Myspace is utterly passé. Totally last season.
Straight away you say ‘Facebook’ – but you’d be living in the past too. And here you were thinking you were widdit. Down with the scene. When all the time you’re losing your edge (“to better-looking people, with better ideas and more talent… and they're actually really, really nice”).That’s right, Facebook is *like* so last minute, ‘n shit. What you want is its newer, better, evil cousin: OffyourFacebook. OffyourFacebook is a social networking site, just like Facebook, but with one essential difference: where Facebook is for people you remember from your past lives and selves, OffyourFacebook is for people you don’t remember. The people you don’t know you know. Because you were off your face. Hence the name.
The way it works is simple – all you need is the magic dongle. Members pay a small annual fee to join and are sent a small device in the post, not unlike a Tamagochi. You simply fit it to your keyring and wear it on you when you go out. Simple as. When you come within range of another member, the dongle (with its internal flash drive) stores the details of the other member. By pressing one of three buttons, members record how far the relationship went, but as a failsafe (this is for people off their face, after all), both the proximity of your partner’s dongle and the duration of the contact are measured and averaged. The next day, you just stick your dongle in the USB, login, and the website updates all your info for you.
Of course, a lot of people get off their face in order not to remember the things that being off their face enabled them to do to/with others – and Offyourfacebook is sensitive to this. Rather than bombard you with the full details of the other person, the site will only send you the person’s details upon request, and even then, it does it gently, reminding you of the other person based on eye colour, choice of perfume, colour of t-shirt, pubic hair and so forth. A further innovation is the use of avatars (called ‘off faces’) which enable two satisfied partners to ‘face off’ in complete anonymity. Either partner can indicate their availability with the ‘face off’ calendar, which indicates how randy the person is as well as their probable whereabouts on their ‘time off’. One member, who describes herself as being in a ‘loving, caring and otherwise monogamous’ relationship, explained her double-life like this:
“Look, I love my fiancé, but come on – you can’t show every side of your desire with one face. Ensceneoman (her partner’s face off partner) does things to me that my fiancé would be afraid to say. But at the same time, we both know that this is something that will never spill into our ‘face on’ life. We both have our limits, and we both respect that – we keep our 'on face' and our 'off face' separate, like business and pleasure. Besides, his boyfriend and his whole peer-group would be furious if they knew he was sleeping with a woman. The sex is amazing, but it’s more than just that: this is something that has helped us strengthen our on face relationships and get in touch with other parts of our desire that we wouldn’t be able to access. In five years, I reckon everyone will be on it. For me, this is the future of human relationships.”
© Peter Chambers 2007
in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked
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