I have been both fascinated and repulsed by Facebook.
Strong words? Maybe. But let me explain.
I first began a Facebook account because my daughter wanted a MySpace account and I said, NO! I explored Facebook and tried to become adept at it, to stay one step ahead of my teen. Ha! She’s now had her account a year less than I have and she is light-years ahead of me in skill. We call her Tech-Support.
Sure, I connected with many people from my past that have been so nice to touch base with. Yes, it’s been so easy to check in with friends and family who live far away. I kind of like the little sound bites (every now and then) of what my friend is up to: how she’s buried in laundry or he just witnessed his daughter’s first step or letting me know of a great film I should see.
And then, an amazing thing happened to me with Facebook.
A dear, dear friend from high school and swim team popped up. We friended each other. We started catching up. And discovered that we live only 45 minutes away from each other, even though we grew up together 1000 miles away.
Our friendship is renewed. We crack each other up, just like old times. And marvel over the amazing thing that is Facebook.
I honestly don’t know how we would have found each other without it (or something like it.) Both sets of our parents have since moved away from our hometown. Friends are scattered far and wide. We may have been able to find each other another way, but it wouldn’t have been easy.
Not as easy as the click-type-click that it is on Facebook.
That’s the fascinating part.
What is repulsive is the self-absorbed culture it is turning us into. I don’t care about the minute by minute updates. You think you’re funny? But you are funny only about 10% of the time. In our neighborhood, Facebook has become a popularity contest. It reminds me of high school – the public bragging about vacations and which party you just attended and the great time you had with Biff, Skip and Buffy.
I now hide certain people (because I don’t have the guts to unfriend them) so I’m not tempted to fall into their trap. Wondering why I wasn’t invited to the girl’s night out. Or pool party. Wondering why we can’t afford the cruise or trip to Europe or new car. Reading their brag posts, I find myself slipping into a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality that I abhor.
So I hide. I ignore their posts as if they didn’t exist. I stick my head in the sand and create my own little bubble.
And then there’s the trick of people finding you on Facebook when you don’t want to be found. A dark period of my past came up and almost bit me. I ignored the friend request and panicked. How much had he found out about me and my adult life? Did I have all the right privacy settings in place? Why oh why was it so easy for this stalker to find me again?
Tech-Support (dear daughter) assured me that he only saw my name. And then she taught be how to disappear from him and any of the close friends I could remember that he had by blocking him and the rest of his posse.
NPR had an interesting review of two up-coming films about Facebook. Catfish (about a Facebook friendship) and The Social Network (about how Facebook got started) They both sound very interesting and I look forward to checking them out. But what interested me more was the way in which Bob Mondello (the NPR reviewer) chose to describe his “like” of the films. It is a clever review that is worth the listen.
And like Bob, I don’t want to say much more than that. But it got me thinking about how our lives have changed forever with social networks and how we now operate. How soundbites and friending and unfriending have become normal, every day behavior that influences how we operate and what we expect. The sense of immediacy it creates. It cultivates impatience and unnecessary worry. Yet it connects us in ways we never imagined it would.
Facebook is here to stay. Fascinating or repulsive, we’re left to use or abuse its abilities. I only hope we become bored with the mundane updates and more sensitive about what we post on our profiles. After all, our Facebook pages are an extension of who we are and how we want to be perceived.
What does your Facebook page say about you?