Facebook Poking Could Create World War III

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend of mine, Eric Kuhn, about how the poke action on Facebook has a totally different meaning over in the U.K. then it does here in the U.S. I began thinking about it and ultimately there could be some substantial implications of the poke action as Facebook translates into a plethora of new languages. In the U.S. we consider poking a sign of affection or flirtation. Others find it completely annoying.

So what does poke mean in places like China or Japan where the cultures are even more conservative and physical signs of affection are frowned upon? Well, when a person who’s culture is not similar to the U.S. gets poked by somebody random a number of things could occur:

  1. Feelings of confusion – More likely then not, in countries unaware of the culture of poking, curiosity will ensue. Users will see “You’ve been poked by ????!” They will then poke back, having absolutely no idea what poke means.
  2. Surprising feeling of happiness – While the poke is foreign to most users, they can’t help but smile. This is a rare breed but for this lucky few they can’t help but smile when they receive a poke from a friend. This group of people will immediately engage in excessive poking among all of their friends and family. The results could be disastrous because there is a good chance that they will accidentally poke someone who experiences the third reaction to poking.
  3. Anger followed by violence – This is the most likely situation and it could possibly cause World War III. I wish I had video tape of the possible implications. Imagine an extremely angry person in China who logs into Facebook one day, only to find out that he has been engaged in 5 poke wars. His reaction is to immediately become defensive and quickly devise a strategy. Soon enough he has determined that the best was to engage his attackers is through violent measures. This must be avoided!

What other reactions do you forsee for foreign pokers?