Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Brief History of (My Time on) Facebook

I have recently been thinking about how Facebook has changed since I began using it. We all talk about the differences but since I have lots of time on my hands, I'm going to detail the changes. A special thanks to the "Criticism of Facebook" Wikipedia article. I could not do this post without you.

Wikipedia tells me that Facebook started in February of 2004. It was originally limited to only Harvard students but that's irrelevant because I did not attend Harvard. In fact, I was still in high school. I heard about Facebook from my brother Paul. You see, Mark Zuckerberg's sister went to the University of Chicago so they were one of the first colleges to be on Facebook after Harvard. It should also be noted that at some point in 2004 or 2005, my brother was kicked off of Facebook because the name License to Funk: The Paul B. Story was not acceptable. This is no joke. So at first, Facebook was for college students while teenagers, common folk and emo kids were on MySpace.

In September of 2005, after opening Facebook up to gradually more colleges and then all colleges, a high school version of Facebook was created. High schools with email addresses were added. You need to understand that few high schools in 2005 had email accounts. Fortunately for me, my high school had decided to get all tech savvy and we had email. I joined my high school's network on Facebook and there were literally 12 of us in it. I might even be overestimating that. So, I had an account but never really used it. Apparently, college Facebook and high school Facebook were combined in February of 2006 according to Wikipedia. Honestly, I did not notice. Wikipedia also tells me that some college students did not like this and felt Facebook was no longer exclusive. I laugh at this. It was still somewhat exclusive. I bet you wish for the good ole days when it was just college and high school students.

When I went to college in August of 2006, I joined my college's network and started using Facebook obsessively as a legitimate college student just in time for Facebook to open up to everyone the next month. Facebook was open to anyone but it still remained mostly college and high school students. Most of the people who joined that were not college or high school students were people who were college age but did not go to college. It made sense. Around the same time came the stalker feed. I mean the news feed. It told us everything we never knew we didn't want to know. People protested through Facebook groups. Those first few days, pretty much everyone's news feed was filled with So and So joined the group 1 Million Strong Against the News Feed. many people commented on their own penis. It was the first Facebook controversy that I can remember. People got down right hostile about it. Then, Mark Zuckerberg apologized and explained how we could set privacy features so not everything we did appeared in the news feed. People seemed satisfied enough with this.

Facebook still had the college and high school networks and with the addition of everyone to Facebook, regional networks were added. I joined the Chicago network and now was in three networks. Pretty much anyone I wanted to Facebook stalk was in one of my three networks. So I could stalk these people within my networks without being their friend. It was amazing. Few people set their profiles to private. If their profile was private, they obviously were hiding something. Most people were fine sharing information with people within their networks. And no one seemed to care what pictures they posted. I mean, there was always one sober person who documented the craziness and then posted the pictures of their drunk friends. Totally amazing, right? Since it was mostly college students, there was no reason to have any other kind of pictures.

Wikipedia tells me that albums were originally limited to 60 photos. I swear it was only 40 photos but perhaps I was misinformed. Now, the limit is apparently 200 photos per album (since May 2009). That seems unnecessary. Especially since the number of photos I've uploaded has decreased greatly in the last few years. Perhaps this will be helpful to me someday when I get married and upload every single picture to Facebook and then have lots of babies and post 200 pictures of my newborn spawn. I kid. I will never do that. I promise. If I do, you have permission to defriend me.

The next big change for Facebook came in May 2007 with the introduction of applications. I like applications just fine. I enjoy my Colbert Report application. I became obsessed with Flair. There are a few other applications that I have but don't really use. Some people became obsessed with applications and quite frankly, it interfered with my Facebook stalking of them. It became unbelievably annoying when I wanted to see what people said on their wall and I would have to scroll down forever to get to their wall.

This was an interesting time on Facebook. A time when people still needed to adapt their status update to begin with [insert name] is.... You had to give credit to the people who tried (ie. Sarah is wondering why it is so hot in her room). Some people didn't even make an attempt (ie. Sarah is OMG!!!1! Why is it so hot in here?) And some people used the first person along with the third person (ie. Sarah is wondering why it is so hot in my room). I assume that old Facebook status updates made English majors cry. I assume that most Facebook status updates still make English majors cry. Well, people wanted the "is" to be removed from status updates. Again, people created Facebook groups to protest. In December 2007, this wish was granted. Victory for all Facebook users. Free at last to use whatever verb we wanted in our status.

In the summer of 2008 when Facebook gave the option to use the "new" Facebook, I chose to stick with the Facebook that I knew. Then, I was forced to use this "new" Facebook. There were tabs, the wall and mini feed joined together and there was this little box that I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to write there. I just didn't like the change. I know that Facebook went out of their way to prepare me for this change, but I still did not like. Some people joined groups to protest but I was too lazy. I got over it. But I complained a lot.

I'm not really remembering anything huge happening throughout most of 2009 except that everyone and their mother joined Facebook. When Paul refused my mother's friend request, she said "You're dead to me." I kid you not. In November or December, Facebook changed the privacy settings because networks were getting too big or something like that. So basically, networks mean nothing any more and most everyone has their profile set to private. Way to make Facebook stalking difficult, Facebook. It's not like I'm a crazy person. I only stalked people I knew but didn't even like enough to be Facebook friends. I'm nosy, that's all.

And then, there was yesterday when I checked Facebook then went to class for 2 hours and was welcomed to the "new and improved" Facebook home page. It was easy for me to ignore notifications when they were at the bottom of the page but now they stare me in the face in the upper left corner. Stop changing, Facebook. You didn't add anything really. Everything is just in a different place. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Facebook. I'm like a trained monkey. Most of what I do, I don't think about. When something changes slightly, it throws me off. I'll get used to Facebook again but give me at least a couple months before you change it again.

Facebook really is a lot different then when I started using it. There is so much more to do on there and yet I use it a lot less. I don't know. Maybe I have less time to spend on there. Maybe I don't have as many people to talk to on there (the turn over rate on my friends is suprisingly high). Or maybe all the changes have taken the fun out of Facebook. It was distinctly college. I used it to look up people in my classes. I would look at the drunken pictures that were posted the day after a crazy party. I actually cared about who was in a relationship with whom and whether it was complicated or not. You know, important things like that. Now, everyone has family photos and wedding photos and pictures of their children. It just saddens me to see how much it has changed. Facebook seemed like a rite of passage. Now, my mom farms on Facebook.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Life Unexpected Review/ Recap Episodes 1-3

Today, I vowed to do lots of research. I did not do that. Instead, I watched the first three episodes of Life Unexpected. It's a CW show. I've had an odd relationship with CW shows. First of all, when the WB and UPN combined to create the CW, they canceled Everwood. They canceled Everwood. I loved that show. It was teen angsty and adult angsty and there was lots of family drama. Real family drama. Not the crap that 7th Heaven called family drama. Anyway, I watched the first episode of Gossip Girl and was not interested. At some point, I do intend to watch Gossip Girl since I hear good things about it now but that probably won't be for a long time. I stuck with 90210 for the better part of the first season, you know, if 90210 even had a better part of the first season. I missed the last two episodes of the first season and have no desire to watch them. No show on the CW has ever grabbed my attention. Enter Life Unexpected.

The commercials kept calling it Gilmore Girls meets Juno. I liked Gilmore Girls. I liked Juno. One would think that that is the reason I decided to check it out. Well, no, it's not. I don't really like when TV shows or movies rely on a comparison to other shows or movies in their ads. It seems like lazy advertising. Just show the clips and let them speak for themselves. The real reason I had to check out Life Unexpected was because I am a sucker for long lost kid storylines. True story. Anytime there is a long lost kid on any soap opera (except Bold & the Beautiful, even I have standards), I will start watching that soap. I did it with Guiding Light when Gus' long lost son Rafe showed up. I did it with One Life to Live when Rex's long lost son Shane came into the picture. And I've fully supported every time General Hospital has done it. In case you were wondering, I'm loving the current storyline with Olivia finally telling Sonny that Dante is his son. Of course she had to wait until after Sonny shot Dante because he found out that Dante was an undercover cop trying to arrest him for his mob activities. I really do love soap operas so much.

So Life Unexpected revolves around a teenage girl named Lux who has spent her whole life in foster care thanks to a heart defect that required lots of surgery and by the time she was healthy enough to be adopted, she was too old. At least that's what the show tells us and I've learned to just roll with it. Let's just consider it the technobabble of family drama. As Lux's 16th birthday approaches, she wants to be emancipated but apparently that cannot be granted because her birth parents never signed over their rights. So Lux takes it upon herself to get their signatures so she can be emancipated instead of a social worker contacting them because whether or not Lux wants emancipation, her birth parents need to terminate their rights, right? Isn't the state of Oregon (oh yeah, it's set in Portland) committing kidnapping by keeping her in foster care if her birth parents haven't signed this magical piece of paper? Oh, yeah, technobabble. I forgot.

The show begins with Cate Cassidy and her co-host/boyfriend Ryan doing their morning radio talk show. I think it's nice that the show is trying to raise awareness that there are still radio talk shows out there. Lux is listening to the show as her younger foster brother barges into the bathroom. Lux has an argument with her foster mom during which foster mom recites the ready made lines that Law & Order: SVU shipped over and says that the state doesn't pay her enough to take care of Lux. With that, Lux responds that she's going to be emancipated. Next time we see Lux, she's listening to Cate's talk show on her journey to emancipation. Lux shows up on her father's doorstep because she saw his name and address on a form on her social worker's desk. I need to point out that her father, Nate Basile better known as Baze, owns and lives above a bar. So this could not possibly have been his address in high school when Lux was born. Apparently someone updated the records to get his new contact information but never bothered to ask him to sign one little form. Well, Baze is surprised to find out that this girl standing in front of his bar is his daughter and so are his two roommates because that's how you know a 30 something year old guy is immature, he has roommates. Once inside, Lux tries to explain to the three slackers that she wants to be emancipated blah blah, sign here, and try to remember the name of the girl you knocked up. Baze's girlfriend enters. Oh yeah, Baze has a girlfriend who we briefly met earlier in the episode. She had made a joke about him being a slacker and then went for a run. Now she's back. Baze cleverly hides Lux behind his back as girlfriend goes into another room. Baze quickly blurts out that Cate Cassidy is Lux's mother as he tries to push her out the door but Lux is too busy fangirling out because she's a huge fan of Cate Cassidy. One of Baze's roommates who apparently went to the same high school is also shocked by this news. IMDb tells me that this roomate's name is Math. He's the more important of the two roommates because he is the moral compass who tells Baze to grow up. Girlfriend enters again, discovers truth, and demands that Baze call Cate to tell her himself.

Over at Cate's house, Ryan proposes. They have a fight because she's afraid of commitment. He does one of those completely cliche "I'm going to list all of your flaws but say I love you before each one and make it sound super romantic rather than extremely douchey." Ryan proposes again. Cate accepts. Phone rings. She's going to let it go to the machine and how cute is that that she still has a land line and an answering machine. But it's necessary so that she can hear it's Baze, pick up the phone, and then hang up on him.

Since they didn't get a hold of Cate, Lux ends up staying the night at Baze's place. They bond over watching adorable animals on YouTube. It's actually kind of sweet but I'm a sucker for overly cheesy things like that.

The next day, Baze and Lux are in the parking lot of Cate's radio station. Lux calls the station to talk to Cate. Um, she's doing a talk show right now. Could you wait a couple hours or at least request not to be put on the air? Anyway, Lux gets cold feet when she hears Cate's voice and hands the phone to Baze who says something like, "Hey, Cate. It's Nate Bazile from high school." I'm inclined to believe that "It's Nate Bazile" would have been enough since he got her pregnant and she seems to remember that based on her hanging up on him yesterday but again it's necessary for him to say this so Ryan can start asking questions about her in high school. He rattles off all of the things that could have happened in high school that would make Cate the way she is today. Ok, Ryan, I'm going to say this once, so listen. Wil Wheaton says, "Don't be a dick." Cate has a fear of commitment and won't let anyone close to her and won't say why. Maybe she was raped. Did you ever think of that? And you need to keep badgering her into talking about what happened to her to make her this way. Right now, Ryan, I think you're the biggest douche in a show that has three slackers living above a bar. It might be time to reevaluate your life. Anyway, Ryan hits the nail on the head when he says, "What? Were you one of those girls that got knocked up after prom?" Cate has tears in her eyes and Baze comments that it was the Winter Formal. Cate runs out and confronts Baze. She yells a lot before he finally steps aside to introduce her to her daughter. They get down to the business of signing the paper and Cate is shocked that Lux was never adopted. Lux needs to get to her social worker's office and Cate volunteers to drive her. Here is where we discover that Lux had a hole in her heart and that's why she wasn't adopted. Cate tries to get motherly but Lux is having none of that.

Lux's court date for emancipation arrives. Cate and Baze show up separately. The judge calls complete crap on Lux's plan for emancipation. The judge is slightly nicer than Judge Judy. She decides to place Lux in the temporary care of her biological parents. As they exit the court house, Cate and Baze argue about high school and all that drama so Lux yells at them and walks away in a huff. Lux returns to her foster home to discover that her foster mother has packed up all her things in anticipation of her emancipation and their fight over it. I guess it's nice that she packed them up in suit cases instead of throwing everything out the window in garbage bags (which is actually a decent way of moving).

Back at Baze's bar, Cate, who just had a fight with Ryan in which she gave him back the ring, and Baze commiserate over Lux even though they had just been yelling at each other over the same thing. We discover a little to much about Lux's conception like it lasted less than the length of "Two Princes" and took place in Baze's mom's mini van. Oh, and Cate lost her virginity that night. Anyway, all this reminiscing causes them to start kissing and drunkenly stumble to the bedroom. The next morning, Cate delivers the traditional "This never happened" speech and leaves only to trip over Lux who slept in front of the bar waiting for Baze. Lux and Cate have a conversation which ends with Cate deciding that Lux will stay with her. Cate goes to work, proposes to Ryan and tells him she wants to take care of Lux with his help.

Cate and Lux arrive home where Baze and his friends are waiting to wish Lux a happy birthday. Ryan joins the party. There's some tension. Lux blows out her candles but already has her wish because she has a family. Except that the next two episodes deal a lot with the fact that Lux felt she already had a family with her fellow orphans that she planned to move in with once she was emancipated. But I guess they didn't have that in mind when they wrote the pilot.

It was super cheesy but I liked. It looks like there will be lots of family drama and angst. It's totally my type of show. If you've made it this far, congratulations. I swear I'll keep the next two episodes brief.

The second episode revolves mostly around Cate and Baze prepare for their home inspections by Lux's social worker. The social worker has to decide if they are fit to be foster parents. Again, I'm confused. They didn't terminate their parental rights. Lux is still a minor. They are her biological parents. Is a social worker still needed. If Baze and Cate are willing to take care of her, isn't this case closed? So Cate is freaking out and trying to make sure that Baze is taking this seriously.

While all this is going on, Lux visits her orphan friends who are super pissed that she actually wants to stay with her parents. They manage to convince her that she should get her stuff from Cate's house and move in with them. When the orphan gang is in Cate's house, one of them picks up Cate's engagement ring with the intention of stealing it. Lux stops him and admits that she actually wants to stay with Cate. Tasha, Lux's BFF, pretty much tells Lux that Cate's going to end up kicking her out the first time she does something wrong. Tasha and Lux stand there awkwardly enough after their fight to hear Cate on the radio read a statement that she did not have a baby in high school because apparently that is too big of a scandal for the local radio station. Lux feels unwanted all over again. Way to go, Cate, you know that Lux is a big fan of the show. How was she not going to hear about this? Cate comes home and can't find her engagement ring. The next day, Lux blames her friends and demands the ring back. They can't believe that she would pick her mom over them and tell her they didn't take it. They are so done with her.

Meanwhile, Baze is still being a slacker and not prepared for the social worker. Cate and Baze end up having a very public fight about him not wanting this in front of both Lux and the social worker but Lux one ups Cate with the revelation that she heard what Cate said on the radio. Things look grim for Cate and Baze. But it'll all be okay when they track the social worker down the next day and give her the paper work she needed and a speech about wanting to be parents. Cate pulls the "I never would have given her up if I knew this was the life she would have" card but none of it matters. Lux told the social worker that she wants to go back to the group home for girls" and obviously a 16 year old girl knows what is best for herself.

Lux decided to apologize to her friends but in the process discovered (surprise, surprise) that Tasha stole the ring with the hopes that Cate would kick Lux out over it. Little did Tasha know that Cate never even asked Lux about the ring. Lux is angry and leaves because that is the only way to leave a room on this show. Cate arrives at the orphan's apartment later to find Lux and Tasha tells her that she knows Lux would be better off with Cate.

Lux goes back to Cate's house and Ryan shows her that he and Cate had been getting a room ready for her in the attic. Cate arrives and they bond. At some point, Math gave Baze a lecture about growing up and taking responsibility but I honestly don't remember when that happened so let's say it goes here. Cate tells her listeners about her daughter on the radio after the judge grants them custody. Cate gets primary physical custody since Baze lives over a bar and that's apparently not the best environment for a teenager. Anyway, they will all live happily ever after until the next episode when Baze's parents discover that they have a granddaughter over the radio. Oh, the drama.

Really, this one will be shorter. Episode 3. So Cate is taking calls about being a parent on the air when her sister Abbie calls in to give Cate a hard time about not telling the family that the daughter she gave up years ago has come back into her life. Abbie turns the conversation into the direction of the father who Abbie believes was the school mascot because apparently no one in this family has a problem with discussing personal matters on the air. Ryan reveals that the father is Baze and the sister pretty much flips out because she had a crush on him in high school. Anyway, thanks to this conversation, Baze's father hears about Lux and blackmails Baze into bringing Lux and Cate over to dinner or else he won't lend Baze any money ($3200 to be exact) to pay the rent on his bar. Baze's father could not express his disappointment in his son anymore than he does in this scene, well until the dinner scene at least. Baze tells his father that he didn't even know Cate was pregnant in high school because apparently that makes him less of a disappointment.

Elsewhere, Cate decides to transfer Lux to a better school, the high school that she and Baze went to and apparently where Math works. If he teaches Math, I will punch someone. Cate does not discuss this with Lux or Baze and Lux is not happy because she will not be able to see Tasha anymore. I kinda thought we were done with that ring stealing liar but I guess not. Also, Baze and Cate meet Lux's boyfriend Bug and they don't like him. Bug thinks he and Lux and their friends should take Lux's savings ($3000 to be exact) and move somewhere else together. Are we seriously still talking about this? Didn't she decide in the last episode that she wanted to stay with her parents? And didn't she decide it in the episode before that?

Baze, Cate, and Lux go to the Basile mansion for dinner. Did I mention that his parents are wealthy. Turns out the Basiles invited Cate's sister and mother as well. They apparently are all staging an intervention about what horrible parents Baze and Cate will be. This intervention may have gone slightly better if Lux was not invited but what do I know about interventions. Cate's mom suggests she raise Lux and Baze's parents suggests that they raise Lux since they are the only one's in the room capable of being good parents to which Cate responds, "Have you met your son?" I get that this is the dinner conversation that would have happened 16 years ago but Baze and Cate are in their 30s, they can handle a kid. Baze's father makes a comment about Cate not telling Baze about the baby in high school. Cate looks sad. Baze confesses he knew. In all this commotion, Lux has left with Bug. She goes home and gets her money commenting about how being treated badly by foster parents is bad enough but to be treated that way by your real parents is horrible. You see what they did there? We're supposed to think she's talking about her treatment by her own parents but she's really talking about Baze and his dad.

The next day, she brings the money to Baze's dad telling him that it was from Baze. She bitches him out for being a crappy dad then leaves. Baze's dad later shows up at the bar, kinda apologizes, tells Baze about Lux delivering the money without knowing it was Lux's money and says that Lux is welcome at their house anytime. At home, Cate promises to Lux that they will make decisions as a family. Cate wants to have another family dinner but with Lux's family aka the orphans. Baze promises Lux that he will pay her back because she shouldn't have to take care of him. It's okay. She doesn't mind. Time to be a big happy family again until the next time that Lux feels like she's unwanted.

So, I guess it is a little like Gilmore Girls except the role of Lorelai Gilmore is broken down into two characters. The responsible, neurotic mom part will be played by Cate while the immature, "I'm not a parent, more like your friend because my parents are rich dicks" part will be played by Baze. He's got the rich parents and you know at some point he will borrow money from them for Lux's education or something and they will all be forced to go to Friday dinners. Also, Baze is playing the Luke and Christopher part. Instead of a diner, it's a bar that he owns and lives above. And the whole not helping when Cate got pregnant is just like Christopher. I guess Ryan is also sorta like Luke because he's going to help take care of Lux. Whatever, I like it so far and will keep watching. I might keep writing reviews/recaps if the spirit moves me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jesus of Suburbia Superstar

Warning: This post is not particularly funny. It is extremely reflective. I also do a bit of whining. It occasionally shifts focus a lot.

Since the Grammys, I've been thinking a lot about the American Idiot Broadway musical. I've already posted about the music during my pre-teen years and how the Backstreet Boys pretty much defined that time of my life. If I needed to pick an album to define my high school career, it would be American Idiot which came out at the beginning of my junior year. I was not a punk chick in the slightest so I don't really know why I was drawn to American Idiot, but I was. I probably listened to "Jesus of Suburbia" as many times as I listened to "Defying Gravity" (fun fact: I bought American Idiot and the Wicked soundtrack on the same day). I have a fondness for American Idiot. I adore Broadway musicals. So why am I so against the idea of American Idiot the musical?

Surprisingly, I think I can answer that question. It's because I tie that album so closely to my time in high school. To me, it is distinctly 2004. I know it's only six years ago and I always talk about things from then like it wasn't that long ago. But it kinda was. The attitudes in 2004 were different than they are now. The invasion of Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction. Mustard gas. Freedom fries. Most people, if not everyone, now agrees that invading Iraq was a bad idea. In 2003 and 2004, it was Unamerican to disagree. Just ask the Dixie Chicks. Around this time was when I (and I imagine a lot of other people) started watching the Daily Show on a regular basis. They told it like it was on the Daily Show. They acknowledged the ridiculousness of the mainstream media when the mainstream media reported the "facts." The songs "American Idiot" and "Holiday" reflect this attitude about the media. Sure, you can try to tell me that the media is still the same and the Daily Show still does that. But it was different then. First of all, the Daily Show still had a couch for the guests to sit on because it was a late night talk show that also happened to talk about politics among other things. Secondly, now most people have learned to be wary of the mainstream media (thanks in part to the Daily Show) but in 2004, we still had complete faith in CNN.

And back then, the big fashion and lifestyle trend was to be emo and/or punk. Now, it's to be a hipster which from my understanding requires tighter pants and slightly less emotion than being emo required. In my mind, I had a clear picture of Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and Whatsername. Since then, those trends have gone away. What I'm saying is that the fashion, attitudes and tone of 2004 was different than it is now. In my opinion, the American Idiot musical is either five years too late or twenty years too early.

Honestly, I'm not a huge Green Day fan. I like Green Day just fine. I have nothing against them. I just didn't run out and buy 21st Century Breakdown when it came out. Wikipedia tells me that that album is also a rock opera. So American Idiot is a rock opera? And 21st Century Breakdown is a rock opera? So let's combine the two and make a Broadway rock opera? I know it wouldn't have been as long as they might want, but they should do two separate rock operas as they are written. I feel that to combine what is obviously two different stories into one will lose something.

What it comes down to for me is that I am graduating from college in May. Things, such as American Idiot going to Broadway and my mom being on Facebook (which will be another post entirely), have got me reflecting upon my life over the past five to seven years. A lot has changed. American Idiot was high school for me. For interest in American Idiot to be renewed seems wrong. Maybe I'm starting my post-grad, quarterlife, Demi Moore in St. Elmo's Fire crisis. Maybe I'm selfish. I just picture a new wave of teenagers becoming obsessed with American Idiot. But not American Idiot the album. They will be obsessed with American Idiot the musical. And maybe they will have a connection to it like I had a connection to the album. But I feel a claim over it. There are feelings that I had when listening to it based on the events that I lived through and those feelings cannot be recreated for a new wave of teens.

They've already stolen vampires from us, do they really need to steal American Idiot too?