Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Facebook Social Experiment

Background and Objective of the Study  

One Friday afternoon over a slice of Nestle Crunch cake, my officemate and I concocted this supposedly bright idea.  Curious about the speed of communication and the role of technology in aiding it, we decided to make a social experiment. 


Squeeze a juicy scoop in the net and see how it seeps into the society.  Ergo, I made a self declaration of tagging my status with “In a Relationship”.  And to make it more interesting, I added a thought provoking quote: “I am happy… don’t ask why”

Findings of the Study 

It took three hours for me to receive inquiries.  My weekend was flooded with text messages even at the wee hours of the morning.  In three days time news swamped the entire fourth floor.  Three weeks later, I heard it from a regional counterpart. 


Coming from the time-and-motion study, is it safe for me to conclude on the magic number of 3?  3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks?  Can this now be ascribed as a universal fact?  If so, what are the applications of this in my work?

Before I go on publicizing this new-found information, I realized various flaws to this experiment.  Comparison is not apples to apples.  The subject used in the study to begin with is salacious, thus more controversial than the usual business communication intercom - new process guidelines, standard policies, cycle plans, quarter reports … need I say more? 

At this point, the safest conclusion this study can provide is the fact that gossip flies faster than let’s say communication of trade activities for implementation.  But then again we all know that, and we don’t need a study to prove this point. 

Nevertheless, the study has discovered the rising popularity of Facebook (also applieas for Friendster, Multitply, MySpace or what have you) as a source of information, and indeed can be a good vector of communication in the future.  I never made any verbal announcement of my so-called relationship.  I just tweaked my profile and things moved from there. “It’s in the Facebook.  And Facebook is the ultimate truth.” An officemate pressed on, after denying her inquiry.

The study has also shown how one’s perception of people can be influenced by his assumptions. I have received quite a lot of comments saying that I am more “blooming”, “prettier” and “happy”.   Since I started the study, I did not change hairstyles, wardrobe, or anything.  All things remained constant. But then again, people started to see me in a different light.  On top of it, even some of my actions are being linked to my alleged relationship.  If I happen to go home earlier than usual, they would all tease me of having a date.  Despite my insistence of these hearsays, people assume that I am hiding the truth.  But what’s funnier is the potency of how rumors can twist reality.  With all the buzz and tittle-tattle, even my officemate who conspired with me in this study is beginning to think that it is true. 

However, there is another angle I failed to consider in this study.  I never expected to receive such warm delight in reaction to my imaginary love from my officemates.  They are genuine and sincere to a point of guilt.  I feel guilty as I see the smile on their eyes and worst the opening of their arms in trying to hug me. 

How do I extinguish their expectancy?  I am so not prepared for this.  I never anticipated it.  And oh how I hate to see their disappointed faces whenever I tell them the truth, barring my social experiment rationale.  I could not stand telling them about the study – because after feeling betrayed, the worst thing I can do is make them feel like guinea pigs. 


I engaged myself in this study to know more about the dynamics of society and communication flow, using an advanced technological vector.  Indeed, it has taken me to some conclusions – mostly validation of societal facts which I already know. But the greatest take out is the warmth of excitement I got from the receptions of my friends.  Truly unexpected and astonishing. Call me melodramatic, but I feel loved.  And with that I am deeply humbled and grateful.

To all my friends: I am so sorry guys.  Sorry for disappointing you and sorry for experimenting on you.  Thank you for being happy for me, albeit short-lived.  I never knew how much this also means to you.  Had I knows about this, I would not have started this social experiment.  Do not worry, this will be my last social experiment.  I promise the next time I change my status profile, it will be for real… Someday, somewhere, somehow… In the meantime, please stop asking me why I am beautiful and happy.  I just am! =)