Is Facebook Itself Technically A Social Video Game?

I think it will be difficult for me to ever look at Facebook the same way again…

extreme close-up selfie

Back in February while researching for Rock Music Used To Be Rebellious, Now It’s Rap Music Instead, my friend Sam Royalty simply stated this to me in a side conversation about social media:

“People use Facebook status updates and pictures to find validation in their ideas and life choices.”

The more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense.

When I consider the selfie alone, it only makes sense that the “selfie taker” is looking for some kind of validation from their corner of society that their appearance is… relevant.

I say “relevant” because that could mean a lot of things depending on what the person is needing slight reassurance of:

Am I pretty enough? Do I look cool? Can people tell I’ve gotten in shape? Am I still funny? Am I even interesting?

With that being said, it goes beyond just the pictures we post. It transcends to our status updates and shared as well:

Am I doing a good job of being informative in society? Am I an influencer? Is the world aware I am part of it?

Is Facebook Itself Technically A Social Video Game?

I would never want to be seen as the kind of person who is known for “needing attention” all the time, yet there’s this subtle paradox that says if you don’t post enough on Facebook, you’re sort of a Facebook snob who only looks at other people’s info and pictures without contributing or getting involved aside from “liking” other people’s post or very generically wishing them happy birthday after being prompted to by Facebook itself.

My theory is that those people who apparently don’t need confirmation or validation are at least looking for inspiration or, for a few minutes, to live vicariously as someone else.

Of course, I believe if you’re too inspirational, you may appear as a show-off. You don’t want your Facebook friends thinking you trying you’re, in essence, “trying too hard to win” at this unofficial game of Facebook.

Despite the daily overdose of negativity on Facebook, there is a fraction of my news feed that is actually positive; or at least neutrally interesting or fun. Like the pictures of my friends’ families: those are the posts I scroll my feed for.

More importantly, I try to be the person who is contributing those pictures, links, and status updates; just like Gandhi famously said:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

I really don’t think there’s truly a way to “win at Facebook,” sort of like the game Animal Crossings that I loved so much in college on Nintendo GameCube. Ultimately, to someone out there on Facebook, you’re going to contribute too much or too little; seem too showy or too aloof.

You can’t necessarily win or lose at the game of Facebook, but it’s a video game that millions of people play all day long, all over the world.

Video Games: The Movie

In theory, it’s the most popular and relevant video game of all time; that’s an idea proposed in the Netflix documentary, Video Games: The Movie.

But for this modern tower of Babel we have built and participate in, I say this is ultimately why we show up to it:

To give and/or receive legitimate validation, confirmation, and/or inspiration.

The reason I say legitimate is because not all ideas on Facebook should merit reinforcement. Plus, as I recognized earlier, Facebook has its fair share of negative people who would rather attempt to hurt instead of edify others.

Overall though, Facebook is a place (and/or social video game) where essentially anyone can give or receive confirmation on one’s beauty, worth, and relevance.

I can even post an “extreme close-up selfie” and I will get what I want out of it: for people to recognize the humor in it.

And no, I’m not writing this to get more “likes” on my Facebook page, or to try to prove I am a decent writer, or to simply feel validated by my Facebook friends so that I can essentially score more points in this video game we’re all playing.

Or am I?

Metaphors in Super Mario Bros. that Taught Us about Real Life

How many lives do you have left before it’s “game over”?

Something that Super Mario Bros. taught us first, more so than any other video game, was the concept of having “lives”.  If you fell in a hole (which means you instantly died; no chance that the hole wasn’t really that deep or that you could have grabbed on to a branch while falling), you lost a life.  If you touched an enemy, you lost a life (which is completely irrational; I wonder what would happen if Mario touched a “frenemy”?…). If you ran out of time, you lost a life (okay, I admit, that concept is somewhat lifelike).

However, if you accomplished certain goals to better yourself, like ate a healthy mushroom(this promoted organic a lifestyle), saved 100 coins (which causes the game to most likely be endorsed by Dave Ramsey), kicked a turtle shell that slid into 10 enemies (illogical and scientifically impossible on so many levels), or jumped to the top of a flagpole (because that’s normal in real life), you actually would get a “1 Up”, which means that you gained an extra life.

But the whole point of this game, despite collecting gold coins (which instantly disappeared when you touched them- could that be a metaphor symbolizing how money is meaningless?) and muddling through everyday distractions (like busting bricks with your fist because you thought there was a steel box with an “invincibility star” inside- choose your own metaphor for life on that one…) was to save the princess from the evil mutant dragon named Koopa.

If you could run under the dragon in the final castle when he jumped up while breathing fire and hammers at you, you instantly touched an axe that caused the bridge to collapse, therefore sending the dragon into the fiery lava pit (poor architectural planning, if you ask me…). In the next room, the famous princess was waiting to be saved from captivity.  In other words, despite being responsible by saving money, despite gaining power, despite becoming a hero to anyone, it’s all really about helping other people.

Cool Retro Sunday School Bonus!

And for those from a Protestant background, the Mushroom Kingdom represents the Heavenly Kingdom, the dragon symbolizes Satan who will be hurled into the lake of fire in the end, and saving the princess symbolizes sharing Christ’s message of salvation and loving others as ourselves, which is the summary of Ephesians 2:8-10, and in my opinion, the meaning of life and the whole point of Christianity.

Manspeak, Volume 4: Stance

Man Mode: When men hang out with each other, it tends to involve competitive or action oriented activities like playing sports, hiking, running, watching sports on TV, and playing video games. The men are side by side. The activity itself is the focus; the social element of it is secondary. Eye contact is not important.

Woman Mode: When women hang out with each other, it tends to involve socially orientated activities like shopping, going out for coffee, attending their children’s school activities, and participating in various types of clubs (like book clubs, for example). The women are sitting and/or standing across from each other. The social element itself is the focus, the activity is secondary. Eye contact is important.

Opposites attract. But how do a man and a woman hang out together- in Man Mode or Woman Mode?

The Man Mode Approach: Obviously a man and woman who are constantly competing with each other and never looking at each other, more focused on something else other than each other, will not find any sort of genuine intimacy. But it could be a good way for them to hang out without crossing the line between friendship and romance. [failure]

The Woman Mode Approach: When a man is ready to cross that safe line of “just friends”, he plans a Woman Mode activity with the woman. One that involves an across-from-each-other instead of side-by-side sitting, emphasis on eye contact and conversation. It typically involves dinner. Dinner in a restaurant with low lighting. [success]

Why is it romantic to have to strain to read the menu? It’s not. But a dark environment causes a person’s eyes to dilate. When we look into another person’s eyes and the other person’s eyes are dilated, we tend to be attracted to the other person. The reason- when we are interested in something or someone, our eyes tend to dilate. So if we look into a person’s eyes that are dilated, we assume the other person is mutually attracted to us.

While compromising and meeting in the middle of issues is so important in sustaining a healthy romantic relationship, it does not apply to this specific situation. The answer isn’t to split the time spent 50/50 between Man Mode and Woman Mode. It’s pretty cut and dry: A man must convert to Woman Mode when he’s with a woman, otherwise he is conveying to her that he’s just looking for a buddy. Same thing with sustaining the romance. Otherwise she may end up feeling like he’s just not that into her.

In one of the greatest comedies of all time, Dumb and Dumber, there is a scene where Harry (Jeff Daniels) explains the reason for his recent break-up. Harry tells Lloyd (Jim Carrey) that his ex claimed he never listened to her and as he puts it, “some other stuff too but I wasn’t really paying attention”. There is a reason this example is so relatable and not too much of a stretch. Often when men are spending time with women, they forget to flip the Switch. The Switch from Man Mode to Woman Mode.

A man is focused on something already (anything on TV) and the women speaks. No response. Because the woman said something that didn’t relate to the current activity. Therefore breaking the rules of the Man Code. If she would have commented on the baseball game, she would have received an excited response. But instead, her words vanished into thin air. He is in Man Mode.

This is where it takes a deliberate awareness on the man’s part to keep in mind that he is in the same room with a woman. He has to make a very conscious effort to change over to Woman Mode. When he fails to flip the Switch, he ends up treating his object of affection like one of his buddies. Which causes his sweetheart to feel neglected.

Men are very focused creatures. So focused that it can be a little frustrating to get them to focus on something else. They have to be reminded sometimes they’re in Man Mode and that it’s time to switch to Woman Mode. If a man is interested in a woman, he will communicate and spend time with her in Woman Mode. Sometimes he forgets and temporarily slips back into Man Mode. It happens. He may need a gentle reminder every so often.

The Mode Communication Theory by Dr. Nick Shell:

Woman + Woman = Woman Mode
Man + Man = Man Mode
Man + Woman = Woman Mode

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



I love you man stance 2