Facebook is a remarkably handy way to stay in touch with people, and even to buy them Christmas gifts. But three separate news items today make it easy to conclude the social network is wearing away at the culture.
Status anxiety: Item one: Facebook released its annual "memology" report and found that the most trending word in status updates this year has been a piece of gibberish, the abbreviation "HMU." HMU, if you're not down with teen slang, is short for "hit me up," and is especially popular with students during the summer and on weekends, according to Facebook. "We should all be ashamed of ourselves," said Daily Intel, calling the trend "an embarrassment for humankind."
Season's Tweetings: If the rise of "HMU" isn't enough to send you into a reactionary tailspin — language is always being corrupted, after all — consider that the social network is also keeping 20 and 30somethings from sending holiday cards or thank you notes or even RSVPs, according to the Christmas stocking full of anecdotal evidence the Chicago Tribune hung on its Sunday business page. "People are up to date all the time on Facebook," a professor of Generation Y (seriously) tells the paper. "That doesn't bode well for the future of holiday cards." Case closed.
Pablo Poke-casso: French artist Alexandre Oudin tweaked his Facebook profile to turn the social network's newly redesigned "Wall" into a virtual speakeasy door. It's actually really cool! But then TechCrunch had to go and compare the guy to Pablo Picasso and René Magritte. Online design requires artistic skill, no doubt, but, like computer programming, arranging a Facebook profile is a lot more like building a bridge than applying paint to canvas.