Instead of Giving “The Finger”
Facebook “Poke” Dies, Raising Another “Pointed” Question
After what might possibly be Facebook’s shortest-lived app, the infamous Facebook “poke joke” died a silent death on Friday, May 9—sans headstone, eulogy or even so much as commemorative post.
And rightly so, you’ll agree, after a quick peek at the facts.
As legend has it, Zuckerburg developed the new Facebook Poke app (not to be confused with the original poke feature) in less than two weeks. This “new” version touted the ability to grace your friends with videos and photos that self-destructed after 10 seconds (yes, you got it. A direct Snapchat clone.) After its premiere in late 2012, Facebook’s iOS poke app zipped around the market for a whoppin’ 16 months before fizzling into the social media graveyard (accompanied by loud Zuckerburg family drama).
Except not. Originally, the 2004 inaugural Facebook poke started as a little digital tug on the sleeve: “Don’t forget about me.” “I’m here…and thinking about you.” “NO, REALLY. MESSAGE ME ALREADY.”
And for the last half-decade, social media apps have followed suit, morphing into one big sleeve-yanking trick after another to garner the attention of our family, friends and followers. Snapchat, the obvious rival for the Facebook poke, appeals to our miniscule attention spans while Instagram satisfies our unspoken yen for endless visual stimulation.
But recently, social media has done an about-face. Rather than eliciting attention, we’re desperately trying to silence the noise.
Shut up? There’s a button for that.
Twitter, for instance, just introduced a new button that enables you to “mute” chatty followers from your feed. Zap. Instant silence. Another app, “Shut Up! The Red Button” available on Google Play, allows you to tell a nearby friend to pipe down with the tap of a button. Enjoy a similar, albeit slightly more jarring, experience with Smosh’s “iShutUp” that yells “shut up” in response to any nearby noises.
We’re dying for ways to unplug with apps like Freedom or Anti-Social that impose timed internet blackouts on your laptop. And just think: after decades of inventing ways to burn the midnight oil, we’ve now created systems like SleepStation to force us to quiet our minds and nod off.
The Newest Craze: Nothing.
We can’t help but crave it: blessed, golden silence.
So the death of the “new” Facebook poke is certainly nothing to mourn. (Did anyone even know it existed?) Rather, the shift is a reminder for us to invest in meaningful communication. Meaningful communication: this self-defined concept bequeaths us with the freedom—the permission—to step back and reevaluate our time.
You may find that tweets truly are the glue in your long-distance friendships. Or your evening Facebook chat and random Snapchat streams actually strengthen the bond among your best girlfriends. That’s all ok. Better than ok.
Tweet it. Mean it.
The medium can be irrelevant; the message is critical. So don’t bother adopting every latest app fad (the Facebook poke being a prime example). Instead, choose whatever Insta-Snap-Book-Tweet-a-gram actually works for you and your friends, and then do it: invest in meaningful messages to those who matter.
And if you’re ever in doubt, I’m pretty sure the post office still manufactures them good ‘ole postage stamps (and Target has quite the collection of chic personal stationery). Just pointing that out.