Thoughts On A Facebook Meme Flurry

Last night I posted every single meme I had in my Pictures Folder to Facebook. It ran as a continuous collection of single posts, flooding the streams of my friends. This was on purpose. While doing this a few friends messaged me wondering if my Facebook had been hijacked. I replied this was on purpose.

It was.

The purpose was to illustrate and provoke some thought and awareness about a few things regarding Social Media, and Facebook in specific. I was going to write a more extensive reflection on this, but I am not feeling that great today. So this will be shorter.

Facebook has a built in glue: friendship and trust. I have many friends on Facebook, some I’ve known since kindergarten. What my posting flurry did was alarm some friends – friends that were on Facebook at that time and watching their feed flood with memes. To be honest, some of the memes are actually pretty funny and a few are insightful. This gives the posting flurry some value. This also complicated the flurry, as the meme flood became a kind of slide show or film, an event or performance. The downside is that it came unbidden. The upside is that it was chock full of useful memes. One friend reposted one particular part of my flurry which dealt with argument errors. A number of friends emailed me saying they were laughing a lot – it was like a fire hose of humour. I am sure some people were less than amused as their feed is now cluttered with my meme flurry.

As time goes by, the flurry will recede, like a large animal swallowed by a python, it will form a lump that will dissipate with time.

SO, with this flurry, I may have stretched some trust with my friends – if I made you uncomfortable that was a small part of my intention, but not my goal. By doing something annoying in this way on Facebook, I am laying bare the vectors of association around my Facebook account, and allowing people to examine what exactly it is that is in their Feed. For example, a friend’s feed late last night would be dominated by my posts. As one wished to review earlier posts by others, one will have to wallow through the flurry to get to them. As time passes and older posts become less relevant in the next few days, the flurry will simply disappear. What will remain? All the memes will remain in my Timeline Photos for people to see, reference and share.

Posting these became a time-based performance, something for which Facebook is ill-suited. However, it was a way to push Facebook into a place it wasn’t designed for, and experiment with its boundaries and parameters. This is not the first time. Several years ago I worked with Boris Ackerhalt where he would post images and then we would give them captions that were of a specific character, or using specific rules to arrive at captions. There were ideas to make one particular series into a book, but the photographer declined. Boris would post ever more extreme images and his Facebook account was removed more than once. He was pushing boundaries that Facebook didn’t want pushed. Eventually he tired of this and went on to other work, as did I.

This latest action / event / performance had a potential audience of over 1000, however it is likely that only a handful actually experienced it due to the Facebook algorithms of association and notification.

Facebook is a deeply broken system that works extremely well. I expect I will figure out more “things to do with Facebook”. I doubt I will do another Flurry like that.