Who's the fairest on Facebook?

It's not always pretty when friends compare friends.

Scott Wallace - staff

It's my fault: I just had to look. But I didn't enjoy it.

I'm talking about viewing a certain application – that's what they call the various programs you can add to your profile (the Web page that's all about you) on Facebook.

First of all, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I'm on Facebook. I created a profile on a whim at the suggestion of a friend without really understanding what it was about.

As far as I knew, it was something tweens did to fill time. And while I'm not ready to consider myself an adult, I also don't want to be a tween again.

But Facebook isn't what I expected. With minimal effort, I reconnected with friends from England whom I haven't seen in 10 years. If it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't have found them without a diligent search.

We've played Scrabulous – Facebook's form of Scrabble – and reminisced about the bygone times of people in their late 20s. We've posted messages about how adult we're becoming because we spent our weekend outside gardening (and enjoyed it).

And, apparently, we've begun comparing one another. This makes me feel like a tween. I haven't yet compared any friends because it feels wrong. And according to my 20-year-old sister, who serves as my Facebook guide, I didn't have to accept the Compare People application.

Admittedly, though, when I got an e-mail that read that I had been compared to my friends on Facebook, I was intrigued.

My friends have been kind. The handful of people who have compared my eyes to someone else's have voted that mine are nicer. The same with my hair.

Most of the time, I can't see who voted for me or with whom I was compared. That is kept secret to protect the innocent and the guilty. So of the two friends who voted as to whether or not I had a better body than someone else, I don't know who said I didn't.

The Compare People application reminds me of high school superlatives with added weekly updates as to where you stand.

But it's different, too. In high school, everyone knows who is prettiest (she was voted prom queen), you know who'll get picked as the smartest (that person is valedictorian), and you know who the most athletic kids are (they received sports scholarships). It doesn't matter; superlatives clarify what you already know.

It used to be that I didn't know where I ranked among my friends. I thought there was some cardinal rule about not comparing yourself to other people. Now, other people are comparing me and I get the update.

I thought we were supposed to be older and wiser. Not to mention that we're all in a similar phase: trying to figure out life, hoping to have something accomplished by our first high school reunion, attempting to determine whether we have a future in the career we've been pursuing. We have enough to worry about.

And in the world outside the schoolyard, how do you judge who is more successful or happier or healthier? We don't have prom queens and valedictorians anymore. And, frankly, I'd like to keep it that way.

While Facebook has been a great tool that's helped me reconnect with people I enjoyed as a tween, I guess I'll have to have my little sister teach me how to cancel (probably not the proper lingo) the Compare People application.

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