Over the past week your Facebook News Feed has probably been filled with the latest fad craze that is sweeping virtual socialites across the world; in other news, I am by no means bitter about it.
As of Nov. 12, Facebook introduced the “Say Thanks” app on both the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook. The application allows users to create approximately minute-long videos that show notable, or user selected, photos of both your own profile as well as the friend for whom the video is being made. Throw in some generic stock music for good measure, and you’ll have flocks of ‘sheeple’ humming the Golden Girls theme song for hours on end.
The official Facebook Newsroom blog states that, “Share a Say Thanks video with a close friend, your significant other, a relative, a coworker, an old friend – or anyone else in your life who you’d like to celebrate. There is no limit to how many personalized videos you can create and share.”
Not since Windows Movie Maker 1992 have we been able to make films so complex and alluring.
These videos are vapid to say the least. Perhaps, if there was an option to personalize the text in the actual “posting” of the video, or the text in the video itself, it would make it seem less superfluously corny. There’s nothing more off-putting than seeing the generic message “We’ve seen some amazing things”, only to be greeted by a blurry photo of a face in close-up — real smooth, Facebook.
“Thanks for being a friend”. In its simplest state, it is a non-offensive message that could possibly, to the less cynical, brighten their day. Even I, when watching my friends share videos that brought them to the corner of Memory Lane and Nostalgia Road, almost made me feel a genuine sense of joy.
That was until the word “friend” stuck out to me a little too emphatically. The word played itself over and over in my head, until it had lost all meaning. The message seemed almost ominous in its execution.
After re-watching two more of the equally cheesy videos (with similarly irrelevant and random photos) I understood the real purpose of the application. It is no mistake that the final word of the video is “friend”, which appears on screen directly before the incredibly publicized and socially created cultural symbol of the “thumbs up” – the Facebook “like”.
These videos are not designed to bring you closer together with your friends — this is a vicious advertisement. It is a branding of the Facebook name. They are Facebook commercials, posted and shared by you, using your photos, and we’re allowing them to use our profiles in order to push a branded idea.
I believe that Facebook is trying, and to a certain extent succeeding, to monopolize friendship. Facebook is the primary platform on which many friendships can exist and a primary facilitator for many interactions.
Facebook reminds you of your friends’ birthdays and also provides you with a way to express it to them. What does the simple and generic wall post of “HBD man” accomplish that birthday cards don’t? They’re public. While wishing someone a happy birthday, at the same time you’re building your own brand. Then, why are we surprised that Facebook itself is doing the same thing simply on a much larger scale?
As much as Facebook seems to be becoming a terrifying corporation of immense public terror and monopolization, at least it remembered my birthday.
With all of that being said, I’m still waiting for a video to be made about me. Maybe then my bitterness will subside, if only for about a minute while the generic tune and the awkward photos from even more awkward stages of my life play proudly for all to see in my News Feed.