The Immortal Genius of Facebook Groups: from Ian McEwan to John Locke (the bald badass on “Lost,” that is)

Far too many serious writers treat the Internet with bemused detachment.

They are missing out.

They are especially missing out wherein Facebook groups are concerned. Thank God they have a… uh, non-serious writer such as myself to set them straight.

Consider, for example the title of the latest group I joined on Facebook: “In a perfect world I’d be doing Robbie in a library as Briony burns in hell.” Tell me this isn’t the ultimate response to Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, recently adapted for the big screen. The group’s description gets Cecilia’s last name wrong (it’s Tallis, not Talon), but we can overlook such trifles; Facebook does not yet require a group creator to be babysat by a tut-tutting editor, after all (this is, of course, both the strength and weakness of Internet writing). The group, I believe, has been bolstered by James McAvoy’s portrayal of Robbie Turner – as belonging to it, and hence forging a connection directly to the character, is so much cooler than simply listing oneself as a McAvoy fan on Facebook (not that I didn’t go and do that when I saw the movie).

A group commemorating Charles Bukowski, on the other hand, is deftly titled “Meet me at the Racetrack and Bring Booze and Whores.” This particular example illustrates the other great thing about Facebook groups: how immediate they are as descriptions of ourselves. They are implying or imploring action, or, at the very least, the possibility of action – if perennial favourites such as I Will Go Slightly Out of My Way to Step on That Crunchy-looking Leaf are any indication. Of course, the stakes can also be raised; consider the I Will Go SIGNIFICANTLY Out of My Way to Step on That Crunchy Looking Leaf. Take that, lightweights in autumn parks across the world! Of course, the drama is not without its consequences. Foliage as cock-tease (or some other kind of tease) gets its turn in the If I step on a leaf that looks crunchy and it isn’t crunchy, I get sad. The series of disappointments that we otherwise refer to as human existence can be boiled down to the brutal emotional honesty exhibited here.

The links between scholarship and sex are explored at length on Facebook. Consider the seemingly tame Reza Aslan group: We Love Reza Aslan for Reasons Not Disclosed… There are lots of reasons to love Reza Aslan one might not prefer to disclose: perhaps you are his cousin, and it’s all a bit creepy. Perhaps you are Ann Coulter, and don’t want your comments on “swarthy men” to be revealed for what they truly are – a lonely pundit’s booty-call.

The last sentence of the group’s description, however, reveals its author’s understated brilliance: “If you’d like to meet Reza Aslan and then make him teach you Islam in bed, this group is for you.” For years, I’ve been trying to categorize Mr. Aslan and the good he’s done for humanity, and it makes me feel hot liquid shame to realize that the group’s creator probably dreamed up that succinct piece of genius in all of twenty seconds.

Now that my favourite TV show, “Lost,” is in its fourth season, I thought it was time to join an appropriate “Lost”-themed group, just in case anyone doubted my commitment. The wealth of choices is staggering. There are so many groups dedicated to John Locke, the “Lost” character, that fans of the real-life philosopher appear to have chosen to distinguish themselves with a group entitled John Locke: The Real J-Lo. Of course, reading the group’s description, one realizes that the author was, in fact, responding to Jennifer Lopez’s popularity, but hey, the beauty of the Internet allows for this group to pop up next to all of the TV-themed groups while doing a search. It’s almost as if the groups themselves are engaging in discourse among each other (cue the advent of a PhD thesis).

My favourite TV John Locke group is the glorious Don’t Tell John Locke What He Can’t Do, although I do appreciate the inter-fandom experience of I wish that Jack Bauer and John Locke were my dads.

Other greatest hits of “Lost” Facebook groups include, but are not limited to: I Wish Sawyer Called Me Freckles, I wanna marry Jack from LOST, and cheat on him with Sawyer, If you talk during LOST I will kick your ass during the commercial, and the apt I have trouble remembering that the LOST characters are fictional. There is so much wealth to choose from. So much to shape one’s identity.

I went with the John Locke group, myself. I WON’T tell Locke what he can’t do. Ever.

Harry Potter-themed groups on Facebook are like a colonizing virus. I’d go into detail here, but I might never come back. Snape alone provides us with a rhetorical goldmine – with everything from Bitch, Don’t Doubt Me… I Always Knew Snape Was Good to the little bit of self-flagellation of I’m a Jerk for Hating Snape (joining this one is so much easier than rending one’s clothes). Going into further detail of Harry Poter fandom, or fandom in general, on Facebook will probably mean that I won’t rise from my computer for another five years. So I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve started Facebook groups, but they were all too earnest, and hence sucked. I will learn from the masters henceforth.

Seriously, Facebook groups are great. They inspire togetherness like badges and armbands. Without having to compromise fashion. They make me happy. Like crack. They allow me to show off my unique spirit… Such as the fact that [I] Get Hard For David Hasselhoff (the direct result of what happens when you forget to log out of Facebook on a friend’s computer).

Facebook groups, as someone who has feared that the love of linguistic self-expression will soon be snuffed out forever, I salute you.

12 thoughts on “The Immortal Genius of Facebook Groups: from Ian McEwan to John Locke (the bald badass on “Lost,” that is)

  1. Facebook has the reputation of being rather snobbish among us mere proles… and these in-group, too-cool-for-school titles illustrate WHY, at least for me.

    Ugh. Sorry, Natalia, I know you like it, but… just… Ugh.

    Are there a lot of people named “Muffy” on Facebook? 😛

  2. Facebook combines the laziest parts of blogging with the intimacy and contemplation of Instant Messaging… I’m not sure how the Bukowski Facebook Group is furthering the understanding of his work, I’m not even sure if the format and basic workings of Facebook are really geared towards working to an understanding of Anything except, possibly, that I have fewer friends than some other Dude. All of that said, somehow I’ll probably end up joining the Bukowski Group if for no other reason than it sounds really fucking cool to have my name associated with His.

  3. I don’t agree at all. I think the best of Facebook is concise, pointed, and hilarious. There are lots of idiots on Facebook too, but there are lots of idiots on the street I walk on as well.

  4. My favourite group is the Stephen Moles Coma Group. It’s not so much the group that’s good, but the story that it’s a branch of. I heard about this guy on MSN who’s pretending to be his own doctor and is conducting an inter-web whodunnit mystery (primarily on Facebook) to track down the person who put his patient in a coma. Sounds complicated, I know. It’s much worse than that. It reminds me of the alternate reality games that seem to be prevalent these days, only this is the first time it utilises Facebook to my knowledge. And also it’s not to market a product, it’s a thing in itself.

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