Imagine if you could know exactly who has viewed your Facebook photos, when, how many times, and for how long? It would change the way you view everything. Your own behavior, society’s, that of the people closest to you. Slutty girls would have the affirmation they so long for, but now with exact data on what works best for them to achieve maximum fame as an internet trollop.
Oh, Chris, that’s what the “Like” button is for.
No, it isn’t. That’s for people who are comfortable enough to let you know that they approve and are looking for some mutual back-patting. If you really wanted the truth, you’d be horrified at the influx of visitors and lingerers that are on your page. Or, you’d be tragically crushed by the lack, thereof. Although, I’m less sure that’s a possibility, because even horrifically ugly or stupid people gets tons of web traffic, if only out of some morose sense of spectacle. Here’s how I envision it happening:
Shannon Z decides to upgrade to Facebook Pro, which allows her to see who viewed her page, pictures, and posts, how many times, and for how long. She feels the warmth of public validation envelope her as she sees that, on top of the 37 “Likes” she received on her gussied up party pic, there were also an additional 54 views of the photo itself, most of whom are men. They like what they see, she thinks, bemused as to why so few of the girls made their viewership known. They’re just jealous.
As she continues her foray into the informational abyss, Shannon Z takes note of a recent status about her new job as Marketing Rep. for LoLserious Studios, where she finally got the job of her dreams (that week) and ecstatically posted about how she wanted to thank all of her friends, family, and the big Gee Oh Dee. 14 “Likes.” 14?, she thinks, but 92 people viewed this post and…and…there’s only one comment from Mr. Donovan, my high school English teacher, reading, “nice.”
The discovery is so distressing to Shannon Z that she begins to furiously click through all of her recent posts, from birthdays to lazy, rainy Sundays with the besties. She begins to notice a trend. As high as the viewer traffic may be, those people who would verbally massage her ego were only willing to do so when it involved something trivial, like her love of Pretty Little Liars or the Cinco de Mayo tradition of ”Margz with Momz.” Worse still, the greatest flow of “Likes,” comments, and passive voyeurism revolves around the cute, innocent, and hi-larious pictures she takes with her friends. In a slinky dress. Or a bathing suit. Or a particularly tight sweater. But just how big is the void between these two groups of followers? She begins to take note.
Photo of Grams and I? 12 views, 1 “Like.” Photo of me wearing those funny black-rimmed glasses? 23 views, 2 “Likes.” Photo of me cuddling with Fwuffy Mitts-McGee? 1 view, 0 “Likes.” Photo of Jessica Q and I trying to paint the Rec center in yoga pants? 87 views, 19 “Likes.”
Baffled, Shannon Z begins to wonder, It has to be because we’re doing something nice, painting the Rec center. And with that, she continues her study. More and more, she begins to realize that the people she “knows” are less interested in her academic, philanthropic, familial, or personal achievements, and more interested in how many eggs she stuffed in her mouth that one drunken Easter or whether her Delta Gamma Frappa torn graffiti tee was see-through that last time. With that staggering realization clouding her judgement, she begins to graph together the stats, with horrifying results.
Of all those viewers of her physically promiscuous, socially uninhibited, and often flagrantly inebriated photos, the lion’s share are men. And not just men that she normally interacts with. Of course, there’s Ryan K from work, nice guy he is. And George T, from college, always so helpful in class. But then there was Frank M, the somewhat shifty-eyed guy that lived down the hall in her dorm. They had become Facebook Friends (FaFrenz) during orientation, but they had never really spoken. So why has he viewed her page so frequently? And for so long… Out of the 948 pictures she’s currently tagged in, Frank M had viewed them all, often spending upwards of 25 minutes on some, collectively totaling to over 19 full hours lingering on images of her. What a creeper!
But then, she sees. Trent P, Harry O, Tyler F, John S, Chris(s) H, R, AND C! All of these guys, some of them she knows rather well, have spent dozens of hours viewing only her most scandalous of shots. Disgusting!, she thought. What could they possibly be doing with all those photos for so long?
And this is where you might want to interject and say, Well, obviously, they were masturbating. But that seems like too long a time for a guy to be doing that to one girl’s picture(s).
And that’s where you’d be wrong. For Shannon Z knows, in the recesses of her mind, exactly what’s possible in the twisted, vulgar world of the modern male. She had seen it first hand upon rashly walking into her younger brother’s room. One, two, three porn videos up at once! It was vomit-inducing. Some of those things, I’ve only tried to forget. But… is this what people do to my pictures? Can’t be. My brother’s just a total perv.
And though he is, he isn’t alone, as Shannon Z finds the worst information she’ll see all day. Her top viewer, most fervent and loyal, a worshipper at the altar of her body, is none other than Mr. Donovan, her high school English teacher. Her face sinks. Her mind begins to race at the thought of soft-spoken, gray haired, charmingly aloof Mr. Donovan. And the sheer number of views! To garner the amount of time spent on her pictures, why, he’d have to have multiple open at once. Which he does. One, two, three, four, clockwise around a video of his favorite porn star doppelgänger for poor little Shannon Z. The vision burns through her mind, binding her in the anguish of shattered naiveté. This is what they think of me!? This is what they do?!? Oh God, why… I didn’t know! I didn’t ever want to know.
Her mascara running, vision foggy from the tears, Shannon Z begins to systematically take back her life. Album by album, page by page, she tears down the world of objectification she’s allowed her Facebook profile to become. And once her slate has been cleaned and her mind put at ease, she silently deactivates her account, putting an end to the darkest era of her life, the twenty-some-odd minutes that metaphorically encapsulated years of unknown strife. And with that, she takes her newfound victory to the bathroom, where she wipes away the tears, freshens up her mascara, and takes a photograph of herself in the mirror. She posts it to Instagram, with a caption reading: Ain’t nothing gonna bring me down. Imma a new girl <333
And there she remains safe from the scrutiny of stalkers, creepers, employers, disapproving parents, and girls that are totally just jelly. The vestiges of her misspent youth on Facebook rest foggily in her mind as a distant memory. And as eternally stored data on Facebook’s internal servers. Also, on the hard drives of roughly twenty men who were smart enough to save their favorite spank bank material before she eventually removed everything in shame.
Oh, you think guys don’t do that? Yeah, because they do.