Fame, it’s not your brain, it’s just a flame that burns your change to keep you insane.
--David Bowie, “Fame”
Recently, “Ally Sheedy” has been turning up as a “Suggestion” in my Facebook page. For those of you who aren’t on Facebook, this means that enough people I know are “friends” with “Ally,” and the computer has decided that she might be my buddy too. And as it happens, I do know Ally. I know her well enough to know she’s not on Facebook.
Ally and I started talking about Facebook some time ago when a previous Sheedy impersonator turned up on Facebook. This one had a lot of elaborate made-up details in her profile, including Ally’s favorite hangout in LA (as anyone with the slightest curiosity about knows, she lives in NY). Despite how preposterous this was, lots of seemingly well known people had befriended this “Ally.” Of course, some of the celebrities who were friends with the fake Ally might have been impostors too, but others were definitely people I knew. My official Facebook “Mutual Friend” list confirmed this.
This new “Ally” is more sophisticated. She doesn’t share any details. All this person had to do was put up a picture and wait for Ally’s friends to get in touch. I can imagine the notes. “How are you! It’s been ages. We should really get together!” or “I have loved you with all my heart since ‘The Breakfast Club. How could you let Molly Ringwald give you that horrible make-over?”
Facebook has a system for dealing with this type of thing. You tell them what the real profile is and they’ll take off the phony one. Apparently, if you don’t want to be on Facebook then you are out of luck. Now perhaps I’m wrong about this, and if you have any suggestions let me know. But if I am right, then Facebook is both enabling and protecting fraud.
Every time I go on Facebook and see “Ally” it makes me mad for some reason. I don’t know exactly why I care so much but I do. Once I friended a singer I know and sent him some personal messages. Was it really him? He didn’t respond. When I wrote about the Ally thing on Facebook, another friend commented that someone was tweeting in her name. It’s all very weird and makes me insecure about the whole thing, and takes a lot of the fun out of it. If I’m going to be friends with someone I don’t know, I want to feel confident that I don’t know them. They could be one of my closest friends masquerading as a stranger just to mess with my head.
Which leads me to the question: “Why do people do this?” Do they need to feel famous but don’t want to do the hard work of abusing their child on TV, gate-crashing a Presidential event, or sleeping with Tiger Woods? No, all they do is make a profile, put up a picture, and presto—they’re famous! To me, this is extremely unfair to all the reality stars who expose their personal lives, eat cow testicles, and jump off buildings in order to fulfill their destiny as celebrities. They have earned their right to be nobodies who become somebodies fair and square. But not these bozos. They want to be famous without getting out of their Snuggies. They are couch potato poseurs.
Do they worry that they might be friends with too many of the other Facebook pretenders? Would that take the fun out of it? Maybe they think that’s a good thing. Maybe they are all part of a fellowship like people in the game room of a mental institution. “Howdy, I’m Napoleon. Don’t play Boggle with LL Cool J over there… he’ll take your money!”
Of all the changes the internet has wrought I’m sure no one predicted that the price of fame would become so cheap. Enough to make Andy Warhol’s head spin. 15 minutes of fame? Are you joking? That’s enough time for a career to rise and fall with two minutes to spare. You’ll be negotiating your deal with “The View” after 15 minutes. I guess that after enough time goes by, everyone in the USA will be famous except for me, because I don’t want to be. But then I’d probably get famous anyway for being the last holdout.
The irony of all this is that I actually think that Ally should go on Facebook. I think she’d enjoy it. Perhaps she’s not too thrilled about the day the other Ally turns up as a Suggestion. It would definitely happen. After all, they have so many friends in common.