I do wonder about this. Once you’ve added one, you might as well add them all, it’s sort of like selling your superego to the devil and fussily hanging on to the id; utterly pointless because the damage is done. So once you’ve added Superpoke and Foodfight which are kind of obligatory although seemingly a bit unfashionable at the moment, you’ve got your visual bookshelf and maybe some i-tunes up and running, you think, ooh, I’ll just play a bit of scrabble, and you’re all set to settle down and stop being an app-whore for a while when wham! you get bitten by a Zombie. And it’s rude not to, so you add that too, and then you think well, if I’m going to have Zombies then I’m going to have Pirates because it’s really more me (Pirates is brilliant by the way. It’s like the worst computer game in the world, there are no graphics at all, it crashes every five seconds and you could work out the probabilities involved on the back of an envelope. But for some reason it’s brilliant) and then as you’re experimenting with a bit of Pacman and Jetman you suddenly notice all your friends have started getting Friendwheels and Friendblocks and Friendcabbages etc, the sole function of which is to display digital avatars of people you love in a pretty picture so as to emphasise to all of them individually just how much competition they are facing in hanging on to your attention. So you add one of those (or more; there doesn’t seem to be a common human dignity alarm attached to these things) and then people want you to buy them drinks, give them fish, flowers and gifts, give their pet rabbit a ninja mask or feed their fluffy penguin, and then there’s the one that allows you to do anything you like to someone so long as you don’t mind it being wrapped up in oddly stilted phraseology: “X chose to [e.g. break wind in the face of] Y.” Really I don’t know why there isn’t a Bottom-sniffing application: “X picked fleas out of Y’s back hair because Y has a busier Friendwheel and X is therefore the beta-human despite currently leading 315-284 at Scrabble”. Then there’s the Sorting Hat, which is already completely lopsided because of course no-one wants to be in Hufflepuff, Top Friends which seems to me to be frankly cruel and socially divisive, the awesome combination of Purity Test, Compare and Hot or Not which allows the hapless user to expose their sexual histories and attractiveness to the world and then have them performance-rated by people in Oregon, more cat applications than I would be able to count before rushing away in revulsion, the strangely appealing Pope Quotes (“A New Quote Every Day!” – it’s awfully nice of the Pope to bother, really), and versions of every game from Texas Holdem Poker to Paper Scissors Stone. If I wished to rate beer, recreate myelf as a South Park character or put a Vibrating Hamster on my profile(why???) I would not find the awesome applications library wanting.
But I digress. The actual serious point I am making is that we are, of course, heading for apocalyptic data meltdown with all this. Not everyone gets sucked into applications. I tried to play Scrabble with someone recently (I know them in real life, but they weren’t even a Friend, they were a Friend of a Friend; that’s how much I love Scrabble) and was rejected on the grounds that he “doesn’t do” applications. I tished, pished and poo-poohed, but I’ll be the one laughing on the other side of my Face when I wake up to find an electronic cuff on my wrist and my citizen number, blood group and dietary requirements tattooed on my left buttock. There are many applications which have caused me to smile, but the one that provoked hysterical laughter was a simple little add-on that allowed you to state on your profile page, without apparent irony, “Say NO to ID cards.”
That the whole applications business is just an attempt by Them to control the 30 million of Us idiotic enough to let it happen because we want to be able to tell people by means of a little yellow face that we are feeling “Nerdy” is proven by the growing number of applications that are either totally useless or positively sinister. I got thrown a hot potato recently. Actually, three. “Pass it on! Watch it travel round the world.” No. Why? How can I watch it? I flatly refuse to press the Add button to find out. Then there is 6 Degrees, which even sounds like a secret organisation in a height-of-Cold-War-era Hitchcock film. I have just added this one, and what it does, it gives you a spiel about how it’s trying to prove that old saw (just why are they saws exactly?) about how everyone in the world knows everyone else at six degrees of removal. Fair enough, so you click on the button, and an ellipsis flashes for a moment while it “calculates”, and then you get a variation on the following statement:
Your rating is 5. The current average in 9.74.
That’s it. Totally meaningless. And when you next log in, the figures have shifted a bit, and you’re now on 4 whereas the average in 8.3. Er, is that good? What was it really doing while that ellipsis was flashing? If it wasn’t the NSA trying to access my voting record, then at the very least it is a total, total con and I intend to remove it forthwith.
Because that way I’ll free up some space on my page for Paper Scissors Stone. Oh and PLEEEASE play scrabble with me, I can’t get enough.