Facebook & Twitter MMORPG
NOTE: To a certain extent, this (somewhat tongue in cheek) post builds on what I wrote a few days back in another post entitled A Social Media Jekyll & Hyde Effect. What follows here should be read within that context.
There are dozens upon dozens of “massively multiplayer online role-playing games” (MMORPG) available on the Internet today, but the most popular, by far, are Facebook and Twitter. In terms of the number of gamers playing at any given time, these two games make World of Warcraft pale in comparison. In a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, the player chooses a character and earns experience points by performing certain actions in the game. In many of these games, the actions take place in a world based on science fiction or fantasy. As the character earns experience points, he, she, or it moves to higher and higher levels.
Facebook is a very popular MMORPG. This role-playing game takes place in a world loosely based on a family reunion during an election year. In other words, the Facebook game-world is basically a large room filled with recipes, family photos, and a lot of angry people. After registering to play Facebook, the player must choose an avatar. The player is then required to take on the role of a certain character type. The goal of the game is to collect “friends” among the other people in the room and to earn as many “likes” as possible. The more “friends” one collects, the more “likes” one is able to earn.
The best way to earn “likes” is to master the rules of online argument since this, rather than sword fighting and dragon slaying, is the primary kind of action a Facebook player performs. The two most important techniques of online argumentation are the ad hominem and the non sequitur. These enable a player to assassinate other characters and score “likes.” Those players who master these basic techniques of online argumentation and advance to higher levels also learn to wield a flaming red herring in battle against armies of straw men. Those who master the techniques of the online argument will be rewarded by earning massive amounts of “likes.”
Twitter is another very popular MMORPG. The world in which it is based is both like and unlike Facebook. Like Facebook players, Twitter players are also in a large space filled with angry people. Unlike Facebook, however, the Twitter world is less like a family reunion during an election year and more like the streets of Moscow during Red October in 1917. The biggest difference between Facebook and Twitter, however, is that Twitter players have a much more limited amount of space in which to play the game and engage in online argument. They usually have only 280 total letter and number characters. The goal of Twitter is to follow other players and to be followed by other players in a large self-contained circular chamber. The most enjoyable part of the game for most players is hearing the shouts of the players behind and in front of them echoing off the walls of the chamber.
Assassinating other characters who are not following your character (known in the game as “cancelling” a player) is one of the main goals in the game of Twitter. However, due to the limited amount of space, Twitter players cannot use any techniques that require the use of reason or normal human language. Unlike Facebook players, they cannot easily use weapons such as the ad hominem and the non sequitur. There is certainly not enough room to swing a red herring at a straw man. Twitter players have to remain satisfied with frantically waving their arms, loud grunting, and flinging things at their opponents. One Twitter player has described it as a game of “gorilla” warfare.
Experienced Twitter players have learned that the best way to destroy other Twitter players is either to find or create a large angry mob. To do so, players must master specific techniques such as cap-locking, emoti-conning, and hash-tagging. If they effectively employ these techniques, they will attract attention to the noise and smell, and other players will quickly locate the mob they are trying to form.
Not everyone who signs up for Facebook and Twitter engages in the role-playing game. Many use them simply to talk to friends, family, and others who share the same interests. These kind folks simply need to be aware that there are trolls lurking around every corner and comment box.
As for me, I think I'll stick to checkers.