Alice Jones: Facebook update shock! Erm, isn't that the point?

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The Independent Online

Say what you like about tech geeks, they know how to put on a show.

Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a presentation by a nerdy guy in T-shirt and trainers about a website, to bewitch the globe's media. On Thursday, though, Facebook did just that at their f8 conference, featuring opening skit by Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg and after-party with Snoop Dogg.

In between, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the social network's trend towards even more "user engagement" (not, as Samberg quipped, what happens when Charlie Sheen decides to get married), with tools to tell the world what you're reading, watching or listening to, a live ticker tape capturing every last Like, Comment and Tag and a new way of arranging your friends, according to how much you like them – or not.

It's exactly the kind of growth strategy you'd expect from a company valued at around $66.5bn and which last week reached the milestone of half a billion users clicking on it in a single day. The changes, though, were greeted in typically solipsistic style by around 499 million of those users whose first thought was, 'but what about meeee?'. No sooner had my new timeline started to roll, it filled with wails. One friend "is a bit Facebook-change-averse". Another "wants to punch new Facebook in the face". I'd fallen down a horrifying online rabbit hole where all anybody on Facebook was talking about was Facebook. Totally not LOL.

It's only going to get worse – over the next few weeks, the site will roll out a redesign, making every profile look like an OK! special issue dedicated to your life. The horror. Complaining about Facebook, though, is a bit like walking into McDonald's and moaning that it only serves fast food. Except that Facebook is not only voluntary, it's also free. Still, the outrage usually only lasts about as long as a Big Mac. In two months, no one will remember "old" Facebook, will they? Or perhaps someone will start a Facebook group for Facebook nostalgics where they can all hang out and remember the good old days when Facebook was, like, really real? There is another way, of course: log off and never look back. But you, and Facebook, know that's never going to happen. You might miss something.


Joining le brainstorming and le podcasting on the list of elegant words the English language has given to the French is le bingedrinking. A BBC report this week revealed, a tad unscientifically, that "more and more young French people like to get drunk", and indulge in "le bingedrinking" at le weekend. Whether they also indulge in le goingoutwithoutacoaton, le embarrassingdancing and le greasydoneronthenightbus is not clear but things have got pretty out of hand. So much so, that in Lyon, the sale of alcohol in shops after 10pm has been banned. Which will probably just encourage les binge-drinkeurs to start earlier, but give the authorities time, they'll learn.

In the meantime, have the Academie Francaise, fearsome gendarmes of the language of Moliere, come up with a French equivalent for the term? They've tried, largely unsuccessfully, to replace le brainstorming with "le remue-meninges" and le podcasting with "la diffusion pour baladeur" but enter le bingedrinking on the FranceTerme database (run by the state's Orwellian General Commission for Terminology) and it refuses to recognise it. Classic tete-dans-la-sable behaviour.


If you see only one film this weekend, make it Drive. But be ready to be baffled by your reactions. I knew very little about it beforehand, except that it was super cool and starred Ryan Gosling. Which was enough. So when the movie took a turn for the ultra-violent, I was so shocked, I started to laugh. Don't write me off as a desensitised Saw junkie (I'm really not), so did many others. In fact, the more blood, the louder the nervous titters in the stalls grew. It's the first time in a long while that I've been utterly wrong-footed by what I was watching on screen – is it a mob movie? A modern western? An urban romance? – and felt that confusion echoed by the rest of the cinema. Truly thrilling.