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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Facebook, oops Fakebook

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 8, 2013

I was skimming through the book reviews for publications, and noticed a new book listed as “Facebook” on a page within the journal.  I made a mental note to come back and read the review, as something with that topic might be interesting to our readers.


Upon returning to that page in the journal, I found that the title was really “Fakebook” and the subtitle was “A true story, based on actual lies.”


For a librarian, this was simply too much to absorb, and I had to follow up and learn more about this book.  And what are “actual lies?”


The brief overview of the book’s story was that “Dave Cicirelli (the author) on Oct. 5, 2009, posted a note on Facebook announcing that he was quitting his job, dropping everything, and walking west.  But what no one knew (save a few collaborators) was that Dave was lying and that his westward travels were all an elaborate hoax.”


What an interesting premise for a 300 page book!  And how would you pull off this hoax?


Clearly nothing a librarian could do, as we would put too much planning and organization into such a task, and of course lying would be out of the question!


I looked at the CIP for the book (Cataloging in Publication) to see how a librarian associated with the Library of Congress would categorize such a work, sorry another librarian-thing.


The two subject headings were Facebook (Electronic resource) – Humor and Online social networks – Humor.  More importantly the Dewey Decimal suggested number is 818.602 which is the kiss-of-death for a book being in the nonfiction section near books with a fictional basis; a section that few people explore.


Even more interesting are the disclaimers of the publisher on the verso of the title page.  Sourcebooks, Inc. states that this book is “designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered” and refers to an American Bar Association publication.


All brand names and trademarks are not associated with the publisher.


And, “This book is a memoir.  It reflects the author’s present recollections of his experiences over a period of years.”


All that aside, the book takes place between Sept. 2009 and April 2010 when Facebook wasn’t as developed as it is today and such a prank would have been easier to do.  The author also says “This is a book about how I lie a lot, so don’t be surprised.”


And so his story begins as he rambles west from New York City exploring America in his fake story.  The reader watches as his new friends of Facebook follow him with excitement and anticipation through his lies.


In the meantime, a small band of real friends help him make the story realistic allowing him to live a normal life in the City and continue his job.


Once I got over trying to analyze his story, knowing it was false; I enjoyed his antics of toilet-papering an Amish horse and buggy and being kidnapped by a religious cult.  As the author says, “Can you discover yourself on a journey that never took place?”


Looking at Facebook, it began in 2004 with college students at Harvard University, and gradually expanded to the time period of the book.  Today there is an estimated one billion users plus on Facebook, of which more than 8 percent are fake!


Our library system uses Facebook as a communications tool, with nearly 1,200 people registered as “Friends” of the library.  We promote new books (paper and electronic) that the library owns, and answer questions about the library and its program offerings.


My son helped me register for Facebook, and two weeks later he inquired how it was going.  I told him that my Facebook page was rather quiet, and when he looked, he said “Dad, you didn’t tell anything about yourself to allow Facebook to link you to other people!”


I told him that was none of anyone’s business, showing my generation’s feelings about personal information.  I finally agreed to list my high school graduation information, as most anyone could find that online.


A week later, he inquired again, and I said, “Wow, I am friends with a fellow who I worked with in my high school library, and he now has no hair, a beard, and lives in Montana according to his photo and description.”  And so it is with Facebook.