Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another sign of the times

'Facebook', I have just learned, has become a verb. As in, "I don't know if he's coming to the party or not. I facebooked him at the weekend, but he hasn't responded yet."

Now, while, in general, I cherish the English language's facility for new word formation as one of its great strengths (and one of its great advantages over Chinese)...... well, I do not think it is inconsistent or hypocritical of me to deplore the majority of neologisms such as this. By all means, let us all create new words on a daily basis. But let us not adopt them into regular usage or recommend them to our friends or lobby to get them included in a dictionary...... unless they really deserve such accolades.

'Facebooking' as a verb is crass, inelegant, unnecessary. And the phenomenon from which it derives will not, I think, be around for much longer. (Yes, I am holding myself up to the possible ridicule of future generations for that pronouncement. Perhaps Facebook will establish a niche for long-term survival; but I don't think it can possibly maintain the sort of pervasive, buzzword-of-the-moment attention it enjoyed in its opening months. And, frankly, I am dubious even about its survival prospects beyond the short to medium-term. The Internet develops so fast that, I suspect, almost all of today's hottest sites will be eclipsed sooner or later by something better - or newer, or just different. And Facebook always seemed a particularly faddish kind of thing to me. My impression is that it is already losing momentum. I seldom if ever get any new invitations to join any more; whereas, 9 months ago, I was getting a steady trickle every week. Most of the friends I have who once admitted to an 'addiction' now say they use it much more rarely. Quite a few have largely or completely abandoned it. Those that still use it do so only as an occasional adjunct or alternative to e-mail and E-Vite. In a couple of decades, I rather think it will be only a curious footnote in the strange, eventful history of the early Internet. That's my gut feeling now, anyway. Let history be the judge.)

Please, please, please - let us step away from all this Facebook nonsense. And keep the bloody word out of the dictionary!

(Cartoon from
Natalie Dee Comics)

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