Number 12 Looks Just Like Facebook

This morning MySpace was no. 7 in the trending now on my Yahoo page. MySpace? I haven’t heard from them in forever. So, I went to read some of the articles.

The article from Fortune Magazine was titled MySpace’s doom was in its DNA. I must admit that the reason I got a computer in the first place was because of MySpace. Up until then I was a technophobic quasi-luddite. I had read WAY too many conspiracy theory books and was still in my bar codes are the mark of the beast and the internet is satan phase.

I liked MySpace because of it’s creative aspect. It’s where I learned html and how to make gifs. I got tips and tricks from people that I had friended. Later on, I was one of the people giving out the tips.

In his BusinessWeek article, Felix Gillette argues that MySpace users’ ability to tweak their profile designs was one of the site’s “first breakthroughs.” The developers had accidentally allowed users to insert HTML into their profiles, “allowing them to play around with the background colors and personalize their pages, leading to the site’s kaleidoscopic, techno-junkyard aesthetic, which became its trademark.”

For the site’s users at the time, this was a feature. For users who might otherwise have signed up, it was a bug. MySpace has almost willfully discouraged older people, smarter people, and more mainstream people from joining. Facebook, meanwhile, has kept tight control over its design, which has remained free of blinking graphics and gaudy color schemes. Your elderly aunt could join it if she wanted to. And as time went on, she did.

I was one of those people with the blinking graphics and gaudy color scheme. I would add, update, and alter my page all of the time, and yes, there were times when it looked like a cross between Las Vegas, Oompa Loompa land and a really bad acid trip… but I didn’t care. I was being creative. I was discovering new techniques and increasing my digitally artistic repoirtoire.

Some people didn’t like it. I would get comments about the flashing pictures or about how ‘busy’ my page was. At first I took umbrage. I would respond back with, “It’s called MYSPACE, not YOURSPACE. If you don’t like what’s on my page then unfriend and block me.”

People kept insisting that I ‘tone it down’, and after a while I did. I just got tired of the comments.

I still can't believe that people complained about my glowing Thomas Edison. I took me 5 days to figure out how to do that.

One day I signed up for Facebook. I had heard about it and decided to investigate. One I had signed up I spent hours trying to figure out how to change the page. I wanted to add my own flair. I tried to upload gifs and much to my chagrin the pictures just would not move.
What? Facebook doesn’t support gifs? What kind of crap is that?
No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get my Facebook page to be anything other that a big white page with nothing but text. How boring!

Once I finally admitted ‘I can’t figure out how to tweak this thing’ defeat, I quit going on Facebook. It wasn’t until I started getting friend requests from family members and old schoolmates that I started back up with it. It was still boring. I didn’t want to talk about what I did today or ask people how they were doing. I wanted to create.

The differences between MySpace and Facebook reminded me of that episode of the Twilight Zone called Number 12 Looks Just Like You.

Synopsis (from wikipedia):

Which one? You only have 2 choices. You can look like no. 8 or no.12.

In a future society, all young adults go through a process known as “the Transformation,” in which each person’s body and face are changed to mimic a physically attractive design chosen from a small selection of numbered models. The process gives everyone a beautiful appearance, slows deterioration due to age and extends a person’s lifespan, and makes the recipient immune to any kind of disease.

The motive of the Transformation is social harmony. According to Professor Sig, a psychologist with the Transformation service, “Years before, wiser men than I . . . saw that physical unattractiveness was one of the factors that made men hate, so they charged the finest scientific minds with the task of eliminating ugliness in mankind.”

"And the nicest part of all, Val, is that I look just like you"!

18-year-old Marilyn Cuberle decides not to undergo the Transformation, seeing nothing wrong with her unaltered appearance. Nobody else can understand Marilyn’s decision, and those around her are confused by her displeasure with the conformity and shallowness of contemporary life. Her “radical” beliefs were fostered by her now-deceased father, who gave Marilyn banned books and came to regret his own Transformation years earlier (we learn that he committed suicide upon the loss of his identity).

Despite continued urging from family, doctors, and her best friend, Marilyn is still adamant about refusing the operation. She insists that the leaders of society don’t care whether people are beautiful or not, they just want everyone to be the same. Her pleas about the “dignity of the individual human spirit” and how “when everyone is beautiful, no one will be” have no impact. After being driven to tears by the inability of anyone to understand how she feels, she is put through the procedure and (like all the others) is enchanted with the beautiful result.

Dr. Rex, who operated on Marilyn, comments about how some people have problems with the idea of the Transformation but that “improvements” to the procedure now guarantee a positive result, thus indicating that there may be modifications made to the mind as well. Marilyn reappears, looking and thinking exactly like her best friend Valerie. “And the nicest part of all, Val,” she gushes, “I look just like you!” The last shots are of her, admiring herself in the mirror and smiling.

I saw the episode for the first time when I was about 11 or 12. I totally related to Marilyn. I hadn’t read 1984 yet, so it was my introduction to the idea of totalitarianism and conformity.

I had experienced the comformity issue somewhat. As a kid, I had been pressured into Little League. I was no good at baseball. I was placed in right field and never caught a ball that came my way. I struck out every single time I got up to bat. I would walk up to the plate and the other players and parents in the bleachers would groan.
Why was I being made to play a game that I obviously wasn’t any good at or had no interest in?

Then there was the issue of my clothes. I wanted to wear the brightest colors. I wanted to wear the bell bottoms with the biggest flair, the hip huggers with the hippest hug, the shirt with the most psychedelic and trippy design and the widest belt available. I was told by my parents that people would think I was weird. I was also told the same thing when I acted certain ways.

When I wanted to practice twirling my sister’s baton I was confined to the basement. I had learned very quickly that doing so in the front yard would result in admonishment, strange looks and the occasional ‘sissy’ comment.

I eventually gave up the baton and turned to juggling. It was considered more appropriate and masculine. When I practiced juggling, I didn’t have to hide in the basement and people didn’t laugh or look at me funny. I remember thinking that they were both skills that involved manual dexterity and coordination, so “why should it matter which one I choose to do”?

Reading that article about MySpace this morning left me feeling sad. MySpace used to be fun. I lost interest somewhat after they changed it to be more like Facebook. Some of the HTML features were disabled. I could no longer be as creative as before.
I don’t know how much longer MySpace will last. I guess it doesn’t really matter since it is no longer the way that it was when I joined.

For me MySpace was about originality. Facebook has the look and feel of conformity. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular. Maybe everybody wants to look like Number 12.

 

Update:
When I went to the blogging section of freshly pressed, this was the title of the blog post that came right after this one.

Google Launches Google+, a Facebook Look-Alike.

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Ring Ring! Your Middle Age is Calling.

So, I was looking at photos of rotary telephones that I had googled. They had the nerve to call this phone VINTAGE.

That phone is NOT vintage. Retro maybe, but not vintage.

As far as I’m concerned, stuff isn’t vintage until everyone who was alive when it was invented is dead.

Now THESE are vintage.

                      

For me, a phone isn’t truly a phone unless it has a party line, or can be used as a murder weapon.

Also, telephones are supposed to have switchboard operators at the other end.

The phones nowadays suck. Cell phones! Phooey! Sure you can do a lot of stuff with them and I have one, but that’s beside the point. Cell phones have no personality. They’re little electronic annoyances. If you want something dependable, it needs to be linked to a landline… not a satellite.

Every day, thousands of people lose their cell phones. It’s kind of hard to lose a rotary phone. They’re either mounted to the wall or so heavy that you have a be an Olympic athlete weightlifter to pick them up. 

I’ll admit that rotary phones CAN be a pain in the butt. Especially if you’re trying to be the first caller to a radio station, so that you can win tickets to the Mott the Hoople concert, and you misdial on the last number. But so what. The concert probably would have sucked anyway.

You can’t take rotary landline phones with you. So what. The bells are super-loud and you can hear them from a mile away. Think of all the exercise you will get when run your ass off to answer the phone before the person hangs up.

You can’t text with a rotary phone. Okay, so write a letter and give the mailman something to do. Besides, texting is so annoying anyway. You don’t even have to know how to spell. All you have to know is the first letter of the word.

OMG
TTFN
TTYL
IDK
KMAMF
GTH
LMFAO
BAMF
YWBWIJH

Can you imagine what it would have been like if our Forefathers would have had texting capabilites?

Yo J. I’m riting the preamb 2 that const. thing we were talkin bout. How this B?

WTPOTUSIO2FAMPU

BITD – I mean, back in the day, we were left to our own devices. If you got stranded somewhere, or even kidnapped, then you had to actually use your imagination to get yourself out of the precarious prediciment. No calling or texting. Just your wits and survival skills. Nowadays, if people don’t have their cell phone and they get lost, they just die.

Cell phones turn people into zombies. Take a look at a zombie movie and then take a look at a busy metropolis during lunch hour. It’s the same scene. People ambling aimlessly, oblivious to anything other that the vapid conversation coming from the other end of the phone. They run into buildings. They walk into heavy traffic. Some have even fallen into water fountains.

Heaven forbid if there’s a bluetooth involved. Then they look like psych ward out-patients. Running around like a raving lunatics and flailing their arms. One-sided arguments that sound like psycho-babble.

You think, “Are they talking to me”?
“Is this a crazy person that I should run from”?

Who needs Big Brother when people have cell phones? They constantly rat themselves out. From their cell phones, they update their social networking sites with maps pinpointing exactly where the are. They blab everything to the world. They post pictures of themselves committing crimes. They send nude pictures of themselves. What kind of idiotic behavior is this? Do you WANT people to think you’re an idiot? Do you WANT the cops to know where you are when you break the law? Do you WANT to have to resign from public office?

This past weekend I went to a cell phone store to get a different plan. The girl was like, “Ummm, you only use an average of 13 minutes a month. You could probably get by with a lesser plan.”

Actually, I could probably get by with a rotary landline phone.

The Not-So-Amazing World of 3D

I read an article the other day about how moviegoers are losing interest in 3D movies. The article cited various reasons as to why. For me, the reason is simple. It’s such an obnoxious chore to watch them.

I suppose that if you had 20/20 vision, it wouldn’t be so bad. But, since I don’t have that 20/20 vision, I don’t know what the experience is really like.

Here is what people with good vision see:

Without my glasses, this is what I see:

3D is a movie gimmick. Bwana Devil, released in 1952, is considered the first feature length 3D movie. Apparently, movie sales were dropping off because of the culprit known as television. So, to get people back into the movie theaters they needed a gimmick. 3D was it.

3D enhances the illusion of depth perception. It’s like a giant Viewmaster, only the pictures move.

I have never seen a 3D movie, where afterwards, I didn’t leave the theater feeling completely frustrated.

First of all, you have to wear those glasses. I already wear glasses, so I have to put the 3D glasses over them.

Second, I have astigmatism and horrible depth perception. Astigmatism is a defect in the eye or in a lens caused by a deviation from spherical curvature, which results in distorted images, as light rays are prevented from meeting at a common focus. Add the 3d effect to that and things get really confusing.

The very first 3D movie I saw was House of Wax with Vincent Price. Even though I was only 14, and my head probably wasn’t as big as it is now, I still got paper cuts behind my ears because the stems on the cardboard glasses weren’t long enough.

Whenever I watch a 3D movie, and stuff goes all freaky, I can’t tell if it’s because of me or the movie. I’ve tried all kinds of techniques to try to keep the movie in focus. I’ve tried;

  • Watching without the 3D glasses
  • Putting my regular glasses OVER the 3D glasses
  • Watching with one eye closed
  • Continually re-adjusting the 3D glasses (therefore causing paper cuts behind my ears)
  • Wearing the 3D glasses upside down

The only thing that seems to work is watching the movie with the 3D glasses on and one eye covered. I don’t get to see the 3D effect, but at least the movie stays somewhat in focus.

Apparently, since its inception, there have been all kinds of advances made in 3D technology. Yeah, whatever. For someone like me, who has Mr. Magoo vision, that technology will always be in its inchoate stage.

Now they have 3D television. About 6 months ago, when I was a Best Buy to get a new TV, the salesman tried every trick in the book to get me to buy one.
I was like, “Look dude, I’ve been around 3D a lot longer than you. I don’t care how many advances that the experts say have been made in the technology, it still sucks”.

“Oh no, he said, “It’s so much better than it used to be”.

I was thinking, “How in the crap do you know? You’re like 12.”

He tried to get me to put on those new and improved big ass ‘I just had my pupils dilated old person glasses’  and watch the demo 3D TV. Pass! Just put the new TV in the car and let me be on my merry way.

Illusion-O glasses

As far as movie gimmicks go (yes, 3D is a gimmick), I much prefer vibrating seats, hypnovista (which TOTALLY does not work), illusion-o, blood dripping from the ceiling, sensurround and smell-o-rama. At least those gimmicks involve senses in which I have full capacity.

Hey, let me put on these groovy glasses and watch a movie all screwed up and out of focus. YAY!