The world of social networking can bear a striking resemblance to the playgrounds of our childhood. If you find yourself suffering from vague feelings of deja vu as you scan your news feed, these may be some of the reasons why.
- All the Cool Kids Are Playing – Suddenly, it seems like everyone in the world has a Facebook profile. Not having one is the equivalent of sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the class plays a spirited game of Tag; it makes a person seem slightly removed from the rest of society.
- Games = Getting Caught – Inevitably, someone on your list of friends will answer a question about you, or help out in your virtual restaurant. In terms of a game of tag, you’ve just been caught. You’re now required to throw a digital cow at someone else, and to give the original person a golden egg or a treasure chest.
- Getting Tagged Can Be Embarrassing – There is a moment in every game of Tag where it becomes personal. The person in pursuit is relentless, while the runner desperately uses every ounce of energy to escape. With a gesture as simple as a tap on the shoulder, the one who was chased is filled with a shame. The grown-up, social networking version of that scenario is the tagged photo of an embarrassing moment. The best and most effective, mortifying photo tag is one that is taken in a bar, just before closing time. Sure, you can simply “un-tag” yourself, but that’s like sitting down on the grass and crying because someone got the best of you. The only thing you can do is ride out the shame until someone else gets tagged in an even better photo, which probably won’t take long.
- Someone’s Bound to Get Hurt – Just like grade school games, at some point things are going to get out of hand. Someone’s going to get hurt, and they’re going to howl about it. This happens most often when a couple breaks up, but doesn’t delete one another. A status gets posted about a date or a new significant other, and suddenly there are skinned knees everywhere. Insults fly, sides are taken and chaos erupts.
- No Rest for the Weary – A game of tag demands constant vigilance of all participants. There’s no such thing as playing tag while you’re doing chores or homework. You always need to know who’s “it” and where they are located at every moment. Facebook calls this a desktop app, and no one gets to quit playing until everyone gets tired of it.
- Tag, Your Mutual Friend is IT – A game of tag can work its way through a crowd fairly quickly when everybody knows one another. Hiding places and evasive maneuvers become predictable, and everyone usually has a favorite target. On Facebook, you work your way through the crowd with friend requests, working from one mutual friend to the next until everyone’s been tagged.