The 12th song on Frank Ocean’s second proper album—the dazzling, uniquely brilliant Blonde—isn’t a song at all. It’s a skit called “Facebook Story.” It lasts exactly 69 seconds, and the whole thing is a French man telling a story about how one time a girl broke up with him because he wouldn’t add her on Facebook. This is the entirety of it:
I was just telling that I got this girl before, and we was together since three years. And, uh, I was not even cheating [on] her or what. And Facebook arrived and she wanted me to accept her on Facebook. And I don’t want it because I was, like, in front of her. And she told me, like, “Accept me on Facebook.” It was virtual. [It] made no sense. So I say, “I’m in front of you. I don’t need to accept you on Facebook.” She started to be crazy. She thought that because I didn’t accept her—she thought I was cheating. She told me, like, uh, “It’s over. I can’t believe you.” I said, “Come on. You’re crazy.” Because, like, yeah, I’m in front of you. I’m every day here in your house. That’s ... it means, like, it’s jealousy. Pure jealousy for nothing, you know. Virtual thing.
Some sorting is in order.
First, same as the mom skit that appears on Blonde (and also the one on Ocean’s 2012 album Channel Orange), it was a real person saying real words. (The mom on Channel Orange and Blonde is Rosie Watson, mother to one of Frank’s friends.) The person talking on “Facebook Story” is Sebastian, a musician who had worked with Ocean on his visual album, Endless, and was working with him on Blonde. Sebastian told Pitchfork in 2016 that Ocean would, on occasion, record natural conversations that he thought were interesting. That’s what happened here, and how the audio ended up on Blonde. (I suspect that’s why it starts with, “I was just telling …” My guess is that Sebastian was telling the story, Frank overheard it, liked it, clicked record on whatever machine was nearby, and then asked Sebastian to start from the beginning again.)
Second, the way Sebastian forms his sentences makes the origin of this story at least slightly open for debate. You can view it in one of two ways:
- He was dating a girl for three years. Then Facebook became a thing that everyone was joining. She joined, too. She asked him to join it, and then told him to be sure to accept her friend request whenever he got around to joining. He told her that he wasn’t going to join Facebook at all. They got into a big fight. Then she left him.
- He was dating a girl for three years. Then Facebook became a thing that everyone was joining. She joined, too. Then so did he. She sent him a friend request, and then she told him to be sure to accept her friend request. He told her that he was not going to accept her friend request because why would he need to do that since they were already around each other every day. She asked again, and he said no again. They got into a big fight because she took him not accepting her friend request as proof that he was cheating on her. Then she left him.
Rereading the text from the story a few times (and relistening to him tell it a few times), it feels a lot like it’s the second option. There’s just no language anywhere in there to indicate that he didn’t want a Facebook account at all. Mostly, it sounds like he had one and just didn’t want her to have access to it.
Now, clearly, obviously, of course, unquestionably, for sure the point of the story is that the internet (social media, especially) has blurred and warped the way that humans build and grow relationships. Clearly, obviously, of course, unquestionably, for sure that’s what’s going on here, and why it was included in the album, which, when you peel away all the layers, is about exactly that: relationships.
THAT SAID, he was still definitely being extremely unreasonable here, for any number of reasons.
Some bits from the text:
I was just telling that I got this girl before, and we was together since three years.
When I was in college, there was a guy named Ronnie who was part of our hangout group. He was tall, and thin, and handsome, and athletic, and funny. All in all, he was a very good pickup for our team of friends. But there was one bad thing about him: He really, really, really enjoyed getting into fights. It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, if Ronnie was there then everyone knew that the night was likely going to end in him punching someone in the nose. He’d been like that since he was a kid, apparently. It took us, I would guess, something like 10 days of hanging out with him before we realized that inviting him to a place came with that very specific threat.
The reason I mention Ronnie here is because, I mean, three years is a long time to be dating someone. (I’m operating under the assumption that “since” is being used here to mean “for.”) Certainly it’s long enough to know if the person you’re dating is the type of person who would begin to suspect that you’re cheating on them if you don’t accept their Facebook friend request, same as it’s certainly long enough to know if the person you’re dating is the type of person who would break up with you if they think you’re cheating on them. Sebastian knew exactly what he was doing by refusing to accept her request, which is to say he was setting fire to everything.
And, uh, I was not even cheating [on] her or what.
This is absolutely a thing that someone who was cheating on their significant other would say.
And Facebook arrived and she wanted me to accept her on Facebook. And I don’t want it because I was, like, in front of her.
Sebastian telling her that he doesn’t want to add her on Facebook because he’s “in front of her” is similar to that part on Kanye West’s “Robocop” where he rap-sings, “I told her there’s some things she don’t need to know / She never let it go-oooh-oh.” (That song, FYI, was on Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak, an album extremely about breakups and breaking up.) Again: Sebastian knew exactly what he was doing.
And she told me, like, “Accept me on Facebook.”
This is how you can tell that it was him who wanted the relationship to be over and not her, because her telling him again to accept her on Facebook after he’s said no is her just giving him a chance to walk back his answer. Sometimes when you’re in a relationship and you’re fighting with someone, you say dumb things or bad things. And if the person is unhappy in the relationship, they can use it as an excuse to leave. (“Some things you just can’t come back from,” they’ll usually say while they pack up and leave as the other person apologizes for whatever terrible thing it was that was said.) If they’re not unhappy, though, and they understand that the fight is less a symbol of the relationship and more a sign that someone just happens to be frustrated with something, they usually give the other person a chance to climb out of whatever hole it is the offending party has fallen down into. That’s what she was trying to do by asking him a second time. She lowered a ladder down into the hole for him to use to climb out. And he broke off the bottom pieces of it and used the scraps to spell out FUCK YOU on the ground.
It was virtual.
Maybe the best part about this whole thing is Sebastian describing Facebook as “virtual,” because nobody has referred to anything on the internet that way since that movie Virtuosity where Russell Crowe played a deadly computer program who (somehow) came to life and was trying to kill Denzel Washington. (Denzel is such an esteemed and iconic actor that you forget that he has a bunch of movies in his history that are absolutely ridiculous, like the one where he plays the black son to a rich Jewish man, or the one where he plays a ghost who was killed in a drive-by and goes on to haunt the racist cop that received his heart because he was an organ donor.)
[It] made no sense.
It actually made a lot of sense. Accept the friend request.
So I say, “I’m in front of you. I don’t need to accept you on Facebook.” She started to be crazy.
No. She started to be normal. Accept the friend request.
She thought that because I didn’t accept her—she thought I was cheating.
“You think I’m cheating? Me? You think I’m cheating? Cheating? Me?”
She told me, like, uh, “It’s over. I can’t believe you.” I said, “Come on. You’re crazy.” Because, like, yeah, I’m in front of you. I’m every day here in your house. That’s ... it means, like, it’s jealousy. Pure jealousy for nothing, you know. Virtual thing.
Essentially, this is what all of this adds up to is: Sebastian was either (a) cheating on her, and he knew that opening up his Facebook account to her was going to get him busted, which was going to make her leave him; or (b) he wasn’t cheating on her, but he knew that not opening up his Facebook account was going to make her think that he was, which was going to make her leave. Whichever one of those options that it was, he was the bad person. And what’s worse still: His whole story is built up to make it seem like he’s being very intelligent and logical and advanced, when really he’s kind of just being a dick. (It’s like that thing you see happen a lot now where someone tries to make themselves seem especially smart and objective by advocating that even the worst kinds of ideas should be listened to and considered carefully.) Just accept the friend request, man. Just accept it.