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Facebooking the Palin-Biden debate

By Andrew Heining / October 3, 2008

As I flipped channels last night, wading through the cable news networks' pre-game shows before Joe Biden and Sarah Palin's vice presidential debate, I picked up my iPhone, launched the Facebook application, and updated my status: "Andrew is: debate prepping."

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Now, that's not so surprising. I've been a little too tied to my new favorite gadget these past couple weeks, and, despite my better judgments, have fully bought into the Facebook craze.

What surprised me was that I wasn't alone. Within minutes, four of my friends had done the same thing.

"Well, at least I'm not the only Facebook-politics nerd," I thought to myself. But the status updates and wall posts didn't stop when the debate started.

With moderator Gwen Ifill's first address to the camera came another post: "Green? She's wearing green?" And with the candidates' first appearance, another round of comments: "Nice to meet you. Can I call you Joe?," and "Her bangs are distracting me."

When Facebook introduced its "News Feed" in 2006 there were shouts of protest and calls for the feature's repeal. The instantly updating log of your friends' updates to their profiles was called an invasion of privacy. But once people learned to control their personal privacy settings, so that their relationship status updates, photo comments, or wall postings didn't get advertised to 300 of their not-exactly-closest friends, the fervor died down. And last night the News Feed brought us together.

An impromptu online party

It was as if we'd all come to a debate watching party, only we weren't whispering our comments to the person next to us on the couch, we were sharing them with all our friends, spread out all over the country. I asked what a "Bosniak" was and shared my enjoyment of the way Sen. Biden emphasized "Bush's" over and over.

This was fun. Every dodged answer, every nuance or verbal gaffe brought more from the world-wide peanut gallery:

• Joe Biden likes to refer to Joe Biden as Joe Biden

• Palin says 'Maverick' more than McCain says 'Miss Congeniality.'

• If they keep referring to McCain as a maverick, they're going to ruin Top Gun for me.

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