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“What do you mean?!” I exclaimed as Bucky told me the news.
“He’s left it.”
“What?!”
“He decided he wanted to quit it.”
“But why?!”
“He had enough.”
“But…But…How?” I was relentless.
“I really don’t know.” The shrug of the shoulder was enough to convince me Bucky had no more information in him.
I needed confirmation. A quick saunter took me to where Ben was sitting.
“Er, hi Alf.” He was alarmed, and somewhat impressed by my lightning-quick arrival.
“Is it true?”
Ben seemed confused by my question. Guilt flashed through his eyes.
“Look. I thought it was my towel. And anyway, it’s not spunk!”
“No, no. Is it true about Phil quitting?”
“What?… Oh. OHHH. Phil quitting. Yeah.”
“But WHYYYYYY?!” As I finished my question, Bucky had come into earshot, only to walk away again eager not to be drawn into another round of questioning.
I resumed my inquisition and pressed further, but Ben’s answers were also vague. My efforts were useless. It seemed not one person could think of any possible reason why anyone would want to quit Facebook.

I had to go straight for the source and a week later I accosted Phil at a friend’s birthday party. I hadn’t known the boy that long but figured he used Facebook for the same reasons as I do; Flirting, photos, and dishing out abuse. How can a man suddenly stop enjoying all these three things at once? I’m pretty sure even if I lost interest in flirting and photos, the abuse thing would keep me going for a while.

Phil’s answers where also vague. I had hit a brick wall. He didn’t have the answers.

Sitting at home, I couldn’t get my head round it. I’ve never really understood those who indulge themselves in cyber relations to a point of extreme. But, cold turkey? That’s gotta hurt.  Going without Facebook wouldn’t destroy him. But what about the distribution of abuse? The ridiculing of pointless status updates? The mockery of photos?

I decided Phil shouldn’t go without. Just a little bit here and there. He could live his Facebook life through me.

I rushed to my computer and penned – via my keyboard – an Email to Phil:

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Subject: Facebook Filter
Date: 02 Aug 2010 20:27:44

Dude.

As you know I’ve become a little obsessed by your withdrawal from the internet phenomenon that is ‘Facebook’. Although your bravery is unfounded and your reasons are a little unclear, I wondered if it may have been a rash decision.

I have decided to send you at least one status update – posted by a Facebook participator – everyday, for a week. I don’t feel you should miss out on someone you’ve never met telling you “How nice it was to drink milk”, or that they “Is bored.”

I will be your Facebook filter.

All the best                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Alfie. 

Ps…  If you get this email, please reply so I know that you understand. Otherwise I will be forced to phonestalk you.

 

I realised this had to be done. I also decided that I could let Phil respond to such postings through me. Using my profile. Like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost.
Minutes later, I got the email I was waiting for. And like the Man from Del Monte, Phil said ‘Yes’. I was now his Facebook Filter.

 

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Date: 06 August 2010 14:39:16

Hello Phil

I am pleased to announce that your Facebook Filter has been activated. I am also pleased to tell you that:

EMILY – “Really, really wants a holiday.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ZSUZSA – “Does not want this trip to end.”

Regards                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Alfie.

PS – I saw Kelly Brook in SOHO today. She looked quite rough. Far too much make-up. In fact, I would have to say that ‘I wouldn’t’, and out of all the chicks I saw in my adventure in Central London this morning, I would say she was ranked about 24th. 

Hope that puts your mind at rest.

 

And so on day two, I continued:

 

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Date: 07 August 2010 17:26:24

Hi Phil

Did you know?:

LEXIE – “Wishes she had that ability to block out things from last night. urgh”

I think you’d agree, a magic genie would be wasted on her. I can’t even remember the superhero who did have THAT ability.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ciao for now                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Alfie.

 

And on day three:

 

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Date: 09 August 2010 08:07:02

Hi Phil

Apologies for not sending an update yesterday – I had a migraine.                                                                                                                                                   I can only imagine the desperation and despair you suffered as you awaited Sunday’s FF (Facebook Filter) update, only for it not to arrive. But have no fear, for this is it now.

And to think, you almost missed out on Hayley’s photo of her cat Busby:

Hope that settles the nerves.

Later alligator                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Alfie.

 

Okay, technically it was day four. But this was important news that occurred on day three. I couldn’t let this information escape Phil. I cannot imagine the people I am likely to meet in the future who haven’t seen a photo of Hayley’s cat. Their knowledge would be depleted. Their conversation stunted when asked; “Have you seen Hayley’s cat?”.
I couldn’t risk Phil.
What if he were caught in a police situation where Hayley’s cat is a fugitive and one of the interrogators held up a photo of the moggy and asked very angrily; “Have you seen this cat?!”
He could reply; “Yes. Yes I have. That’s Hayley’s Cat.”
Like I said, I couldn’t risk Phil.

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Date: 09 August 2010 12:24:03

Ooh, we’re at the halfway stage. What better way to celebrate than to tell you:

HOLLIE EBDON has at last requested me as a friend.

Having never met her before, I am obviously honoured. I mean, she didn’t even write a message introducing herself, which goes to show how much confidence she has in me and our friendship. Sometimes I wish real-life interactions were like that. Why bother with all that hassle of introducing someone? Or even meeting someone? Become friends first. Cut out all the unnecessary bullshit. If only my current crop of friends shared the same sense of bravery as Hollie. Why do I even bother? How could I have been so blind? Hollie is the only friend I need. Thank god for Facebook.

Keep on truckin                                                                                                                                                                Alfie.

 

I was on top of the world. Hollie, an attractive young female, had requested me as a friend. This was beautiful. This was what Facebook was made for. Two people meeting via the internet. What if we fell in love? Got married? Gave birth to a line of scientists who would go on and find cures for diseases or even developed a new renewable energy source? What if our meeting saved all of mankind or even The Universe? It would all be because of Facebook. All because Hollie liked the look of my profile photo with which I am posing drunkenly with my friends. All because she clicked the button which read ‘Request as friend’.
I was confident this would give Phil all the answers he needed. Facebook is beautiful.

From: Phil
To: Alfie
Date: 10 August 2010 10:03:15

Bless Hollie. Bless her little pixelated cotton socks. She’s a mountaineer, scaling the peak of risk to plant the flag of friendship in your tip of trust. However, I shall not let Ms Ebdon’s moment of bravery persuade me that my Facebook suicide was not a good decision. I shall never adhere to your view of social paradise. I long for as future where we are all unchained from the oppressive online overlord, where children skip playfully through the streets smelling flowers and spinning wooden tops, where adults cannot pass each other without a welcoming hug or high five, where friends are made over tea and crumpets, not likes and adds. Facebook, my friend, can poke itself up its own arse.

Here endeth the lesson.

Phil.

 

I could see Phil’s point. Had I really been so naive? Perhaps Hollie didn’t want me for my scientist children. Perhaps she didn’t want me at all. Perhaps she just wanted to scour my photos in the hope of seeing a shot of me with no top on. I had become less enthusiastic about her motives.

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Date: 10 August 2010 19:05:08

Hi Mate.

I think you were right about the Hollie sentiment. In fact, it inspired me. So I decided to send Hollie a message (via Facebook):

Alfie Evers August 10 at 7:48pm
Hi Hollie, thanks for the friend request. I appreciate your bravery to befriend someone you have never met nor communicated with before. My friend Phil recently quit Facebook because he thought it to be negative. I tried to use your outreach of friendship to me as an example of how positive and groovy Facebook can be sometimes.
Unfortunately, he didn’t buy it. In fact, I think it sent him the other way.
Anyway, I can’t accept your Facebook friendship, as I require physical hugs from my friends. And as you cannot write a ‘Hello’, I’m not sure you can fulfil that requirement.

Maybe I’ll see you around and we’ll say hi and share a high five.

All the best,
Alfie.

Ps. I have also declined offers of non-hug friendships from four others. You were definitely the best looking.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And then I pressed ‘Decline’. It felt right.

Only two more updates to come buddy. Then we can have a bloody good hug.

Alfie.

 

It was the right thing. How could I be friends with someone who hasn’t even opened a conversation with me? I was beginning to wonder this whole Facebook thing had any substance at all. If the status updates with which people selflessly open their souls were in fact pointless. I mean, is it true that my week would not be ruined if I didn’t find out that Brian “Prefers raspberry jam to strawberry jam”?
And then I remembered. I come from a generation when we didn’t own computers. We didn’t have internet. We didn’t even have mobile phones. The heady days of cycling round to your friend’s house, knocking on the door and asking the scary looking mum; “Is Ben there?”. Knocking on a door. What an alien concept.

As for social networking. Well, that consisted of having a conversation on a landline telephone. And, if you were really posh, you could pick up the receiver of the ‘Upstairs phone’ and have a ‘Three-way’. Using the secrecy button for the ultimate eaves-drop.

Now I was clear. I had done the right thing. Hollie didn’t want to be friends. She wanted to invade my privacy. Look at my photos. Make judgment. Lure me into a false sense of security before finally getting her wicked way and forcing me into having sex with her. And I would have bought into the whole ‘Friend’ thing before she tossed me aside and began on her next Facebook conquest.
Not this time Hollie. Not this time.

 

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Date: 11 August 2010 13:49:22

Dear Phil,

Hollie’s reply…..

Hollie Ebdon August 10 at 7:53pm
Someone accidently hacked my facebook account and invited the ryans bar mailing list to be my friend. Don’t ask me how.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           You are more than welcome to decline friendship.

H x”

 

Okay, I was wrong about Hollie. But it did raise another question. Why would anybody hack someone’s account just to befriend everyone? And accidentally? How can you accidentally do that? The hippy in me wanted to think that they were doing good. Prompting everyone into becoming friends, thus creating the world into a cool and groovy place. But realistically I knew that wasn’t the truth. It was just some dickhead (or ‘Punk’ if you’re American) who had far too much time in between masturbational master classes. Yes it’s sad. People no longer throw eggs out of moving cars. Or thrust Chinese bangers into peoples’ forecourts. Or even let car tyres down. No, they hack people’s accounts and send out mass friend requests. Boo.

I continued my email to Phil:

 

Yes, I know. I was shocked too. I don’t even know a Ryan’s Bar.

Then I requested her as a friend. Out of sportsmanship. A bit like in football when you kick the ball back to the opposition after they’ve put it into touch because one of your players is injured. She should decline the request. Or….. she could accept and be the most devious of friend requesters. The Kaiser Soze of Facebook.

I must point out how interesting it is that someone would take time to hack into someone’s account just to make them have more friends. That’s kinda nice. I think. Or moronic. I’ll go for moronic.

One more day of FF to go….!

Alfie.

 

Inevitably my time as Facebook Filter had come to an end. Had I continued, I believe Phil would have ended our friendship. A week was long enough, and I’m happy to say that Phil now knows why he left Facebook. And I now know why he left. I can let him move on. There are no vague answers anymore. In fact, if you were to ask him why he left, he would give you the answer of; “Because it’s fuckin’ shit!”. Which is a definite answer, I think you’ll agree.
However, although I agree that it is fucking shit, I still believe it has its uses. I once heard its primary function described as “Looking through photos of your ex-girlfriend on holiday with her new boyfriend, in the hope that in one of the photos, you’ll find her with a look of regret”. I mean, where else could you do this? I suppose you could follow your ex-girlfriend on holiday. But, not only is this expensive and time consuming, it’s also real-life stalking. Which these days can be frowned upon.
No, with Facebook you can do this at the comfort of your own desk. Eating a Digestive and picking your nose.

I also hear that you can use Facebook for such purposes as; Getting fired from work. Being suspected of extra-marital affairs. And even bullying. Remember the song? ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never…..’ Not according to Facebook. Damn it’s clever. So many uses. And not a stick in sight.

So whether people like Facebook or not, it’s here to stay and I’m going to use it in the best ways I know how; Flirting with people who I’m never going to go for that drink with. Posting photos of myself and my friends either looking good or really drunk. And, most importantly, dishing out abuse.

 

From: Alfie
To: Phil
Subject: Facebook Filter – The Finale
Date: 12 August 2010 18:29:35

Hi Phil

Your last Facebook update. What better way to end than to show a message I posted myself:

Alfie Evers To everyone on Facebook on behalf of my mate Phil Dawkes:
You’re all benders. Suck my cock.

It’s been emotional dude. See you on the flipside.

Alfie (Friend Request optional).

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