Even though the Facebook story seems far from over, David Fincher's 'The Social Network,' the first major motion picture to document the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation, is hitting theaters this week. Facebook may have launched less than a decade ago, but the site has already burrowed its way so deeply into our collective consciousness that it's hard for many of us to imagine a world in which friendship didn't
involve a click of the mouse. And, as Facebook continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to gain a clear perspective on just how radically it's changed our everyday lives.
Has the site made us less human? Does the rise of social networking signal the end of Western civilization as we know it? We have no idea. What we do know, though, is that it's definitely put us in situations that would've never been possible before the dawn of the Facebook Era. Whether it's in the workplace, around the dinner table, in the bedroom or at family reunions, Facebook has infested virtually every facet of our lives -- and even some after
Adjusting to life under the reign of Zuckerberg, of course, hasn't been easy. For some of us, it's even been a little painful. Over the course of the past few years, however, Facebook has put many users in new, awkward, and, frankly, hilarious predicaments -- much to the comic delight of the rest of us. Here are a few of the most memorable tales from the Switched archives.
Facebook Infests Our: Work
Once upon a time, before human beings used "friend" as a verb, most employees enjoyed a certain degree of privacy from their bosses' prying eyes. As we've found out, however, Facebook has radically redefined the conventional 9-to-5 boundaries that once divided workplace sobriety from personal playtime. Many workers have adjusted their Facebook behavior accordingly; privacy settings have been re-calibrated, friend requests are second-guessed and incriminating photo tags are swept away as swiftly as they pop up. Every now and then, though, a couple of Facebook-related workplace snafus cross our cultural radar, and remind us of just how drastically the landscape has changed. Take a look at these social networking situations, and marvel at how Facebook has changed the 9-to-5.
Security Firm Cisco Says FarmVille Harvests Safety Concerns
Who knew that playing FarmVille at the office could risk anything besides your basic human integrity?
Then again, who would've ever envisioned a world in which Cisco actually spends time researching fake pigs?
Facebook Etiquette in the Midst of Layoffs
A pink slip and a saccharine sense of empathy may be the only things you need to kick an employee out of your office, but it won't do much to eradicate him or her from your Facebook network
. Today's ax wielders must now tread carefully after deciding to cut dead weight from their companies, or risk running into an awkward online interaction that their new personal assistants will have to clean up for them.
Working for a FarmVille-Addicted Schlub
Though fake, Jenny's epic e-mail parting shot
, like all great satire, was rooted in an all-too realistic phenomenon: workplace FarmVille addiction. Equally realistic is a scenario in which a lowly intern actually calls out her sleazeball boss on his online indiscretions. Interns of the world, consider this your call to arms.
Changing Your Facebook Name Means Hiding Your Facebook Shame
Keeping all of your skeletons safely closeted from your boss used to be a relatively feasible task -- and, in many ways, it still is. Instead of taking the time to adjust their privacy settings, however, many paranoid job-seekers have opted to go the witness protection route
and forgo the "growing up" route.
Posting Naughty, Job-Related Photos... When You're a Public Servant
When they're not serving and protecting us, some policemen apparently enjoy staging grandiose backyard pranks
-- and sharing them with the rest of the Facebook universe. As these cops found out, burning a dummy of your coworkers in KKK-like effigy sure ain't the innocuous office prank it used to be. And that, we can all agree, is probably a good thing. Remember, just because you do it doesn't mean you have to share it.
Taking to the 'Book to Complain About Customers...
A five dollar tip may have been insufficient by this waitress's high standards, but complaining about it on her Facebook profile
was certainly enough to get her fired. Considering the kind of havoc she could've wreaked on her patrons' pies, though, it's probably best that she chose Facebook over flatulence
Facebook Infests Our: Relationships
Romance, almost by definition, is complicated. But in the Facebook era, courtship is downright Daedalean. As if texted check-ins and late night Gchats weren't enough of a technological umbilical cord, social networking now allows lovers to keep tabs on their significant others and
those within their online circles. By now, of course, many online couples have worked through the inevitable onslaught of passive aggressive questions ("Who's Adrina? And why
does she like your status?") and most have already arrived at some sort of relationship status consensus ("Oh, you are listed as single? That's weird
... "). With Facebook's cultural impact, it's easy to forget that there once was a time when romance didn't
involve such complex digital subtext. But let's be honest: without social networking, we'd probably never have a chance to enjoy gems like these.
Changing Your Facebook Status to "Married"... at the Altar
Instead of muttering "I do" and pretending to hold back tears, this snarky groom decided to seal his vows with perhaps the most sacred affirmation known to 21st century man: a new Facebook relationship status
. Rumor has it they spent their entire honeymoon "like"-ing each other's statuses from separate beds.
Using Facebook to Break Restraining Orders
Forget personal investigators and drunken phone calls. Today's abusive husband needs only an Internet connection and a Facebook account
to terrorize his estranged wife with online apologies, promises that "things'll be different, baby" and the never-effective "poke" option. Sadly, harassment is harassment, be it online or IRL.
After It's Over, Erasing Your Ex From Your Digital Existence
You've tossed his earthly belongings to the curb, you've erased his number from your phone book, and you've even started sleeping with his best friend. You're well on the way to break-up recovery, but you've overlooked one important digital detail: disconnecting on Facebook. Thankfully, the Ex-Blocker was designed to comfortably remove his name from your feed
(giving you the moral high road for looking like you are calmly staying friends). Nothing says "Not Over You" like incessantly checking his profile, or making a production by deleting him altogether.
'Retrosexing,' or Locating Old Flames for New Romance
Reconnecting with long forgotten loves either sounds like fodder for a modern-day fairy tale or a recipe for total disaster. Both outcomes, of course, are equally plausible, but, with Facebook, you won't have to wait for your next high school reunion to get a second crack at the one that got away. In our guide to "retrosexing,"
we give a detailed "how-to" for anyone looking to re-open the Little Black Book of their past. One hint: Look up those you wish you'd known better, not old lovers you knew too well.
Facebook Used as a Gross 'Ordering Menu' for Girls
When Chiefs player Dwayne Bowe said that his teammates had "imported" girls from Facebook
for hotel room parties, a seedy side of Facebook was exposed. Just as with MySpace and Friendster before it, people log-on to Facebook to get laid. The revelation may seem oversimplified, but, thanks to social networking, all of the tools you need to do some networking of your own (if you know what we mean) are right at your fingertips.
Thanks to Facebook, You Don't Have to Limit Your Engagement Announcement Lists
Not everything on The Book is cheaters and heartbreak. One of the site's nicer features includes posting photos where the happy couple is tagged when an engagement is announced
. This means Aunt Hattie can see your true love (and witness your relationship unfold), and, in turn, feel more connected to you. Added benefit: high school pals witness what a hottie you've snagged.
Finding Out Your Husband Got "Married" at Disney World
These days, Facebook is fine fodder for divorce lawyers looking to find evidence of cheating. But an Ohio woman got a shock when she, having suspected her husband of cheating and done a bit of cyber-sleuthing, uncovered pictures of him as a two-timing Prince Charming at his own Disney-themed wedding ceremony
. We can't decide what's more embarrassing: discovering that your husband has a second wife, or discovering that his second marriage went down at Magic Kingdom.
Facebook Infests Our: Diet
Granted, you probably don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about Facebook while scarfing down your morning bagel. But in a world where social networkers lay bare even the most intimate crevices of their lives, it should come as no surprise that Facebook has subtly influenced our eating habits, as well. Dining, after all, has traditionally been a social activity and our collective idea of what "social" really means is changing. Once, we shared meals with friends, but now, we feel a need to share the experience with an entire Facebook circle -- simply because that's what people do today: share
. It may not always be accepted protocol to whip out your iPhone at a five-star restaurant, but Facebook culture, as with other facets of our life, has slowly rewritten the rules of dinner table etiquette -- for better, or, in some cases, for worse.
Don't Post Your Meal, If It's Illegal and Immoral
In a Facebook-free world, the Indiana couple who chowed down on an endangered species in the Bahamas
probably could've had their rare iguana and eaten it, too. But, thanks to the age of online over-sharing, they simply couldn't resist the opportunity to broadcast their reptilian repast to the rest of the repulsed world. When authorities saw their irresponsible snack, the two were sent to jail -- where the cuisine, we'd imagine, isn't much better.
Social Networking-Based Marketing Makes People, Companies Look Like Weirdos
Asking fast-food fatties to shed Facebook friends for a free Whopper seems like it would only make obese Web surfers even more anti-social. A Burger King promotion
, though, hoped that we'd have at least ten "friends" we'd heartlessly sacrifice from our overcrowded Facebook networks for a flame-broiled burger -- even if it meant adding ten pounds in the process.
Facebook, However, May Actually Revolutionize the Eating Experience
You'd be hard pressed to find many fast food fans willing to "share" their meals with others, but that's exactly what the Facebook-friendly concept joint called 4Food encourages its consumer base to do
. Equal parts fast food trough and geeky gimmick, the New York restaurant reminds us of what it feels like to actually leave our computers and break bread with other human beings -- while broadcasting our burgers on Facebook and Twitter, of course.
... Or Turn the Populace Into Lonely Geeks Who Just Pretend to Cook
If Facebook's good for one thing, it's playing mindless, solitary games under the false premise of being "social." 'Restaurant City' is a sim game that allows players to run a cafe
... virtually. Instead of opening up real restaurants and selling eclectic food at inflated prices, the restaurateurs of tomorrow are devoting their creative energies to the zero-calorie culinary games of today.
But Like Anything, It'll Always Be Used by Mega Corporations to Sell You Stuff
Unlike Burger King's anti-friendship marketing campaign, this pre-'Facebook Places' venture encouraged McDonald's patrons to check-in from any McDonald's branch
, showing who went where and who ate what. The Facebook app gave McConnoisseurs a totally new way to share their diets with the world, hopefully shaming them into quitting Big Macs entirely.
Facebook Infests Our: Family Relations
For people of a certain age, running into family members on Facebook feels like the punchline to a bad joke. Seeing Mom (or worse, Grandma) "like"-ing your status arouses paranoid fear, utter embarrassment and an attempt to switch identities. With the site's pearly gates now open to all, though, youngsters who once frolicked with impunity across verdant Facebook fields have begrudgingly come to terms with having their online free-zones occupied by familial forces. Whether it's a case of cringe-inducing parental awkwardness, or a feel-good story of online reunions, having our family on Facebook has, at the very least, provided some memorable anecdotes.
Parents Join Facebook, Kids Are Horrified
Many youngsters consider Facebook to be the exclusive domain of their generation, simply because they were there "first." Once the site opened its doors to parents and grandparents
, angsty kids were forced to deal with the inevitably awkward digital interactions that ensued, while subconsciously relishing the opportunity to hate their parents for entirely new reasons.
Family On Facebook? Don't Panic
There's no use complaining about it anymore; your family's now on your feed, and they aren't going anywhere. So, instead of using it as an excuse to do hard drugs and have irresponsible sex, you might as well take a glance at these ten tidbits of advice
, most of which could fall under the same heading: "Don't be an idiot." Another rule we can add: jovially entering "In a Relationship" with your best friend of the same sex may raise eyebrows across generations, even if you are just "heterosexual lifemates."
Facebook Gives You Front Row Seats to Family Drama
The next time you complain about your mom scrawling embarrassing messages all over your Facebook wall, just count your lucky stars that she's not a crazed stalker. Denise New, after having a falling out with her 16-year-old son, used Facebook to keep tabs on her kid
, getting herself slapped with harassment charges. Once safely relegated to the realm of rehab centers and Lohan family reunions, insane parents are now using Facebook as a grand stage for their performance of crazy.
Recovering Lost Kin Has Never Been Easier
Thanks to the fact that everyone from your first grade teacher to your neighbor's dog is on Facebook, reconnecting (or discovering) lost kin is a reality. Thanks to the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, a British mother was able to reconnect with her son
three decades after his father absconded with him to Hungary.
But Ditching Unwanted Relations Is a Near Impossibility
The Guardian reported a growing trend of birth parents hunting down and revealing themselves to their children
-- unwelcome or not -- because getting in touch with your biological kin is easier than ever.
If Nothing Else, Family on Facebook Is Good for a Laugh
Though this is a College Humor joke, we imagine cases of mistaken identities take place like this daily on Facebook
. First, a mother wonders why she can't see her son's profile, while the boy politely insists that he's not her son. She gets progressively more pushy, until she threatens to cut tuition and calls out his stepmom. Fortunately, the poor guy does a little research, and sends her to (hopefully) the right child.
Facebook Infests Our: Death
If you're unfortunate enough to die during the Facebook era, your departure from this world may be more complicated than you think. Your family, of course, will still have to sort through your will and prepare an obituary, as bereaved loved ones have been doing for years. But what about your Facebook profile? Do they leave it online, as a lasting tribute to you? Or do they shut it down for eternity in the hopes of arriving at some sort of closure? Obviously, the decision comes down to a matter of personal choice, but the fact that it's even an issue goes to show just how profoundly Facebook has influenced our lives, afterlives, and, in some cases, our very perceptioin of "death," itself.
Dying on Facebook More Complicated Than It Seems
From making "reconnection" suggestions to constantly seeing them on your page, a deceased friend lingers, frozen in Facebook time
. While abandoned Facebook profiles may not be as problematic as the trails of illegitimate progeny or mountains of debt that some of the deceased leave behind, they still create a new digital purgatory that grief-stricken loved ones sometimes find difficult. Unless, of course, you take perverse pleasure in "poking" dead people.
Committing Virtual Suicide
It's perhaps a testament to Facebook's ubiquity that someone felt compelled to create a site exclusively designed to help people "kill" their own online personas. Dubbed 'Seppukoo,'
the site may offer Facebook addicts an easy way out.
Experiencing Death on a Large, International Scale
When Elvis died, 80,000 mourners flocked to Graceland to watch the King be put to rest. When Michael Jackson died
, millions of fans flocked to Facebook, where they could watch the Gloved One's final encore, and count all the celebrities who suddenly pretended to have been his best friend in the whole wide world.
Quickly Learn Who Has Died (Even if They, Erm, Haven't)
What happens when you mix crudely morbid British humor with a universally visible social platform? A tasteless prank, hundreds of misinformed mourners, and only one "bloke" who actually finds it funny. With Facebook the new place to make obituaries, receiving sad news via a group invitation is not unlikely. Practical jokes may date back to the Stone Age, but, thanks to Facebook, you can convincingly feign a friend's death with an ill-conceived memorial page
-- and instantly remind everyone that you're a total jerk.
Socially Remembering the Dead
In the 17th century, a Mughal emperor constructed the Taj Mahal to honor his dead wife. In the 21st century, bereaved Facebookers construct honorific profiles for their lost loved ones
. Memorializing the deceased may not be as flashy as it once was, but, in all fairness to Shah Jahan, we have yet to come across a single Mughal emperor on Facebook. Creating a memorial takes away the awkward reminders that an actual profile generates, but it still gives mourners space to grieve and write messages.