The Financial Times reports on the dark side of social networking sites:
An adjunct to Facebook, with page additions so you can list enemies as well as friends.
Select Facebook contacts will be sent a snub that says they are now “on notice” or “dead to me”.
A standalone site. Identical to Facebook except you befriend other haters. And you can build an “Evil Map” that tells you the location of your hater pals.
It seems to me that this was inevitable. Once you have the existence of social networking sites you have to take the bad with the good. While it might be nice to think that they are a place to meet “friends” and like minded folks, it is just as likely to be a place to make enemies, engage in gossip, spread rumors, scratch and claw. These are a big part of social life in the real world, and to think that the online world would just be about nice stuff and making friends, well…
My sister had the idea that we would take my parents to IKEA to look at possible replacements for their kitchen cabinets, counters, sinks and storage. I loved the idea of a trip to IKEA since I’d never been there ever. And as it was to be a look-see and not a buying trip, the pressure would be low. I was looking forward to the famous Swedish meatballs for lunch too.
IKEA is huge. We went up to the second floor where the shelves, sofas, tables and lamps are all arrayed into tasteful little room settings — rooms, but with mysterious tags hanging everywhere. Immediately I thought it was like entering a videogame world. Who lives here? What do they do? Why is that book on the table? Is that significant? Could it be some kind of clue to the occupant’s identity?
Why does everything have weird names? Every container, shelf, cabinet or appliance had some odd name, as if people from Planet Sweden anthropomorphized these objects, naming each one they encountered as best they could**:
One soon realizes that one of the goals of this “game” is to decide which cabinets, in which wood or wood-like material, would, could or should be combined with which counter materials, and then to match them to a particular style sofa and upholstery, and finally, to select the color and texture of floor material that would coordinate best with all the above.
There are free measuring tapes available to help you, dotted lines are painted on the floors (to help determine square footage), and personnel hover at computers waiting to guide you through the whole mix and match system — game spoilers, one might say.
Once one gets some of this figured out — scratch pads might help — moving on to the next level of game play is a possibility. One goes through the restaurant wormhole (the food was good) and emerges at the next universe: picking out the flat-packed cabinet and furniture bits stacked in a world of endless towering shelves. As far as the eye can see there are shelves, tall shelves, much, much higher than a person can reach. The weird language is used here too.
Of course, the tables don’t look like tables any more in this world, thus some conceptual skills are needed here. Memorizing some of those strange words helps a lot too, I would imagine. Players drift about here, aimlessly, haphazardly, but soon they begin to put the clues together and the young couples — there are a lot of young couples — pull what will become their dream home off the shelves and head for the checkout counters. Only when they get home will they know if they have truly exited the game, or if they need to return for another round.
**Where IKEA gets the names (from Wikipedia)
IKEA products are identified by single word names. Most of the names are either Swedish, Danish, Finnish or Norwegian in origin. Although there are some notable exceptions, most product names are based on a special naming system developed by IKEA.
Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames (for example: Klippan)
Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian place names
Dining tables and chairs: Finnish place names
Bookcase ranges: Occupations
Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
Kitchens: grammatical terms, sometimes also other names
Chairs, desks: men's names
Materials, curtains: women's names
Garden furniture: Swedish islands
Carpets: Danish place names
Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
Bedlinen, bed covers, pillows/cushions: flowers, plants, precious stones; words related to sleep, comfort, and cuddling
Children's items: mammals, birds, adjectives
Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
Kitchen utensils: foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries, functional descriptions
Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks: colloquial expressions, also Swedish placenames