J.R. Kuwanski



Dearest Anna,

I was surprised to receive your face page friend invite the other week. I was surprised for several reasons, of which I would like to discuss.

Since the advent of bookface I have been continually aghast at the behaviour that this nifty social networking device has elicited in people. Who would have thought a few years ago that all but the most impoverished of global citizens would be spending substantial parts of their leisure time sending virtual super pokes, virtual presents and virtual cocktails to people labelled as virtual friends. What is more surprising is that in the now passé ‘real world’ the most adamant of facepagers are not active friends with their virtual counter parts, but instead send more virtual pokes, cocktails and presents than they do, or ever have, real ones.

In fact, I believe I have witnessed people, that I would otherwise consider sane and not mentally retarded, participating in social events merely for the sole purpose to document their experience via bookface pics. It would seem that for many of bookpage users, virtual life has superseded that of real life. People are now more concerned with updating their status than of investigating this world and its meaning.

Let me be clear, reflection and analysis of our real world experience, I think, is healthy and is in part what makes us uniquely human. Great literature, music and film I believe is exactly this – reflections on our real world experience. However, I really don’t think bookpage is a forum for genuine reflection. I believe it is a forum for voyeurism and narcissistic self indulgence, neither of which is creative nor beautiful.

By now I’m sure your thinking ‘why would someone who so opposes bookpicpage be a contributing member of this regressive association’? Well I myself too can be prone to narcissism and enjoy chronicling my pictures online in a virtual bragging of my life. However, what I do not practice through picfacepage is the violation of the sanctity of friendship. That is, I don’t replace true friendship with that of bookface friendship. I ensure I spend more time with my real life friends than I do looking at photos of other people. And I ensure that if I wish to become better friends with someone I do so via the real world and real communication.

So I guess this brings us full circle. As I said, my reaction to your friendship request was one of curios inquest. Upon further thought I have produced the following analysis of the situation:

Scenario One: You would genuinely like to consolidate or become better friends with me, more so than was the case without a pageface bonding.

Scenario Two: You do not genuinely wish to become better friends with me but simply inanely followed the suggestion of bookface itself and requested my friendship via the prompt on the right of the screen.

Scenario Three: You wish to dedicate some of the precious conscious hours we have in this universe to peruse my photos in a frenzy of uncontrolled voyeurism.

I have distilled my thoughts in response to each of these potential explanations.

In response to Scenario One: If you did wish to enhance our friendship perhaps a more traditional method would prove more effective, like communicating to me for example. I have been away from New Zealand for a year now and we haven’t spoken since, not that we did regularly when I was in the country (or even occasionally for that matter). I consider this, actually communicating to oneanother at least once a year, to be a prerequisite for real active friendship. And I certainly would consider it a good way of enhancing a friendship. Looking at oneanothers pictures without the other person knowing, from the other side of the world, I would consider to be not a very good way of enhancing a friendship.

The disturbing thing about this is that pre face page I think most people would agree with me on this matter. Now, however, post fb, I think several people’s very conceptual understanding of ‘friendship’ has become so deranged, diluted and contorted that the very notion has lost all meaning and it is simply a reference to ‘someone whose pictures you can access on picbookpage’. I think this is a horrible tragedy, a grave spiritual degradation of human life.

In response to Scenario Two and Three: If you were merely conforming to the recommendation of facefriend, without any coherent understanding of why you were undertaking such an act, I would suggest to think more about how you live your life. This may seem like a self-righteous and patronizing over-reaction, and perhaps it is, but I believe the “small” ways we choose, or not choose (as may be the case for the predominance of avid facepage users), of how we live our lives actually has huge impact on other peoples lives and society as a whole. For example a single friend request in isolation may seem of little importance but, as with most things in life, I don’t believe this event occurs in isolation. As narcissistic as I am, I am still not deluded enough to believe that I was the only friend request you have forwarded of late. In fact, if I was a betting man, my money would be on you sending ‘friend’ requests at quite an alarming rate, possibly daily – or even several times a day for that matter. Again, these requests I believe will not be without their repercussions. As a result of the request and its likely acceptance, there will no doubt be several minutes, possibly even hours, dedicated to perusing your new bookpage-in-arms life brothers’ pictures. All in all with the total amount of time spent on bookface that results from each individual friend request you probably could have do something decent.

Now I know that what we can consider ‘meaningful’ can be somewhat subjective, but I struggle to imagine an argument that could convince me that spending time vicariously on senselessly clicking through others self-indulgent demonstrations of self-worth would be more meaningful / useful / enjoyable or rewarding than say listening to music, stretching, reading some good literature, watching a documentary, preparing a good meal, speaking to a friend etc.

I know that we all need chill out time where we just ‘blob out’, however my concern is that after doing the maths of the time spent on facebook as indicated by the alarming rate at which people send and accept friend requests, virtual cocktails, update their status and change their profile pic, means that people’s blob out time is exponentially increasing and is drastically affecting their non-blob out time.

Perhaps if people spent less time on facepage and more time engaging with the world around them and the others in it, they wouldn’t vote for this guy to be in charge of 4.3 million people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b3VzcK2xqM&feature=fvst (link to John Key Prime Minister of New Zealand on the David Letterman show making an absolute twat of himself)

So just a few thoughts really. Am genuinely interested in how the friend request came about. Maybe I am just over-thinking this whole thing too much. But then again I would much rather get caught on occasion over-thinking something, than not thinking enough. And apologies if my presumptions about facepage usage are off the mark. I may be back in NZ around Feb, perhaps we could discuss in person then.

Warmest regards,


p.s. After just looking through all of your photos I’m not sure I wholeheartedly believe with the above rant – but still do to a certain extent. I maintain that excessive facepage usage is still harmful. However, perhaps it can be somewhat enlightening to see others pics. To see how other people are living their lives and the environments in which they do so conceivably can provide a fresh perspective on our own lives. Although I’m sceptical that facepic users utilize the fb forum for this purpose. Or perhaps this life comparison can cheapen experience, turning it into a ‘my life is better than yours’ competition judged solely on what can be presented by a small selection of frivolous still frames of extremely limited scope. Alternatively, I’m a self-righteous judgmental tosser who’s got it all wrong. So food for thought really.

p.p.s Some of your friends (and sisters) are looking really hot, perhaps you could introduce me to them if and when I get back in the country (smiley face with a wink and the tongue out the side).


About jrkuwanski

Born of an Inca tribe in Peru, J.R. was raised by silver-tailed wolves in the Amazon rainforest. At age 7, J.R. departed on a treacherous journey to the Nepalese Himalayas and, following a lengthy debate with the Dalai Lama about the merits predictive texting, moved to Brooklyn, New York. For the following decade the writer learned the street poetry of 'the corner', becoming a familiar face on brownstone stoops, housing project courtyards and anywhere where a good salad dressing was sold. At age 17, when riding home from a 12 hour bowling marathon with his friends Mr Def and Mr Tip, J.R. was greeted by a Sri Lankan wizard who was wearing a bright purple velour tracksuit. The ghetto preacher told him he was destined for great things, ranging from baking one hell of a pumpkin pie to Nobel Economic accolades. Another fate was to craft the world's best blog, writing on topics of social and political commentary in a style of creative non-fiction. And the wizard promised him if he tried hard enough, really tried, one day, someone, somewhere may consider publishing his work.
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3 Responses to Picfacepage

  1. This article was a combination of humor, intrigue, literary accomplishment and intuitiveness all rolled into one flavor-filled entree. (YUM!) (Seconds, please.) Your ability to take a household topic, such as Facebook, and dissect it in such a creative manner is downright impressive. I enjoyed this article very much, thank you for sharing it with me.

    You rock, bud!

    Best, -T

  2. Hey there! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed
    to ask. Does operating a well-established website such as yours require a lot of work?
    I am completely new to operating a blog however I do write in my diary every day.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

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