I admit to being a Facebook Grinch.
Perusing my Facebook home page and the posts the service highlights for me has become an every-other-day chore, like separating out the recycling. I joined Facebook because everyone who had anything to say about the modern, marketing-focused reality faced by writers insisted I must; and my wife told me I should, which carried more weight. I’ll admit that the service has been occasionally useful to me, helping me to follow important happenings in the lives of family members, friends, and important acquaintances. I’ve also used it from time to time as a gramophone to announce a recent blog post or convention appearance I felt I should flack (all the while glumly wishing I had more in the way of actual publications to convince people to risk their dollars upon).
But, on the whole, I have found Facebook mostly dreary and oftentimes frustrating (comments that fail to post; occasional flakiness when trying to link to blog posts; etc.). I have stuck with it out of a sense of grudging but stubborn duty. So it was with no small sense of pleasure I read an article on the website of The Washington Examiner called “Bye, Bye, Facebook.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.) It announces that “a new Pew Research Center poll finds that a huge group of users, 61 percent, are taking breaks from Facebook up to ‘several weeks’ long, and that virtually all age groups are decreasing their time on the social media site that recently flopped in its initial public offering of publicly traded stock.”
So it seems that Facebook is rapidly becoming passé. When it joins such predecessors as Pet Rocks, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Hula Hoops in the dusty pantheon of crazes only remembered by nostalgia nuts and cultural anthropologists, I don’t anticipate the formation of any great lump in my throat.
So what comes next? What will take Facebook’s place? Isn’t that the question burning in the mind of anyone who reads the Pew Research Center poll results?
Will Twitter become the new king of social media? (Isn’t Twitter already the king?) Putting on my Faith Popcorn hat, I predict Twitter will suffer the same fate as Facebook, only faster. Twitter will rapidly fall victim to the very same attention-abbreviating trend it helped accelerate. Not long from now, more and more devotees of social media will complain that reading a 140-character Tweet seems like slogging through Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
So what comes after Twitter?
Allow me to propose… Dingleberry.
Here’s how it would work. Postings would be limited to three characters. All users would be required to have a thin-film LED panel surgically implanted beneath the skin of their forehead, deep enough that the panel would be undetectable when inactivated, but shallow enough that activated letters (the panel would be capable of displaying any combination of three characters) would shine brightly through the skin. When a user’s post achieves 10,000 “likes,” the system would signal the LED panel on the user’s forehead to display the post.
Three characters are more than adequate to express the thoughts of the majority of social media users. The brevity assures a wide range of potential interpretations and opens a path to virtually unlimited readings.
Take, for example, the following post:
This may be taken to mean any of the following:
1) An abbreviation for SEXY (“I am sexy”).
2) A status posting (“I have recently had, or will soon be having, sex”).
3) A political statement, apropos to whatever is in the news (“Sexual harassment is bad,” or “Keep your legislation out of my sex” or “Keep your sex out of my legislation”).
4) An injunction (“Have more sex” or “Go sex yourself”).
The above listing is not exhaustive, by any means.
On the other hand, should a user’s post achieve 10,000 “dislikes,” the system would set a subsidiary routine into motion. One of the following persons would be required to offer alternative posts; either the user’s
2) ex-best friend;
3) estranged son or daughter;
4) high school cheerleading squad captain; or
5) middle school bully
in the order of preference stated above (as applicable), would offer three alternative three-character posts for vote by the user’s followers. Once 10,000 followers have cast their votes, the system would transmit the winning post to the user’s forehead-mounted LED strip.
I think Dingleberry would take off like a Saturn V rocket. “Dingle” would become a new verb, as in, “You’ve been dingled.”
I offer this proposal to any techies or venture capitalists who would like to run with it. I’d pull it all together myself, except I have more important things to do (like posting short essays to this blog now and then). I ask only one thing: once you’ve made your first billion from the initial public offering, please ship me a box of chocolate-covered strawberries. And one for my wife, too, please.
Oh, and that’s strawberries, not dingleberries.