I am spring-cleaning my Facebook…what’s the appropriate collective noun? Gallery? Database? Mob? Collection? It’s kind of a collection, in the American Psycho/ Silence of the Lambs sense of the word more than the Antiques Roadshow variety. Anyway, I’ve noticed that when you hover (technical term, not literal) your mouse (technical term, not animal) over an icon representing someone in your Facebook collection of people you know, don’t really know, worked with or are related to, Facebook entreats you to ‘See Friendship.’
Friendship is capitalised, so I’m not sure if it’s actually been acquired by Facebook like the colour blue they use, or the word ‘Face’ they are attempting to trademark (if successful, will we all have to start referring to our visages as ‘visages’ or ‘that place where my features are at, yo’ to avoid copyright infringement?) but regardless, it’s a powerful suggestion. See Friendship.
You scroll (technical term, not pastry) through these little squares of artful selfies, babies-as-adults, objects-as-semiotic-jokes, and blurry-crops-from-company-picnics-or-family-reunions and on every one of them, this same command; see friendship. At first I found this to be wildly irritating. Yes, w not m – wildly. Nobody likes to be issued directives from machinery. My new microwave screams at me to ‘Get Food’. I currently use it to sterilse bottles so hey, microwave, you get f*ood, OK? Get fooed. And I had this same reaction to Facebook until I realised that it was actually giving me the sweetest, oldest, most human message there is.
This person’s face? Your mate with some serious passive aggressive behavioural issues who causes you pain? See friendship. That person’s sailing-trophy in place of head? Yeah, you don’t really know them anymore, but once you did, once they offered you the best thing they had – their friendship. So when you look at that icon, hey, see friendship. In fact, all carefully culled and shined and alphabetically arrayed 400 odd souls, see friendship there. Even if it’s not there anymore. Or if it’s troublesome. Or if, in the case of one particular face, it goes so far and deep and long and into your life and soul that ‘friendship’ seems reductive and insignificant – just see the part that’s friendship. See that part. That helps.
And if you want to really see friendship, to really get excited - then for all its ugliness and pettiness and timewastiness, Facebook has a sort of gratitude-journal function called ‘most recently added’. You can see, hammered up on the dart board of your digital heart, a list of the ‘+’ number of beings who gave you friendship in the past year. Do it, do it now – see how good you feel about most of them. See how surprised you are to know that some of these friends have only been around for a single ‘timeline’ year. See how their ‘profile pic’ makes the sun peek out between clouds in your mind. See the girl who reminds you of a vivacious Serbian version of Sofia Coppola who dropped you off in front of your house and said directly ‘So I think we should be friends’. See the beautiful young man who forgot convention and decided to hold an almost-stranger on the street because he knew she was sad, and then offered her his story, some Tolstoy and a sober agreement of fifty years of friendship. See the slight, pretty woman who moved in with you a few days after meeting you, on the afternoon you both dodged near-death by falling coconut. See the 21 year-old French DJ, the TV chef, the Viking photo-journalist, the Swiss renaissance man with Petit Prince stars on his body who made you coffee and fixed your visa in the jungle, the writers, the doctor, the girl you met while you both took a giggling photo of an enormous new panty-liner with wings stuck boldly on the window of the 112 tram. See their stories. See their gift to you. See friendship*.
*Note: the lowercase f. We gave Cadbury purple, Facebook blue, and Apple – everything. Let’s keep the big stuff and tell the corporations to get fooed.