Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Phenomenon of Facebook

This past weekend, I made the gigantic leap. I signed up for Facebook.

I never had an aversion to it the way some people fear technology in an attempt to sound cool; I just had never had the drive to sign up. Finally this past Sunday night, Becky made the jump and her peer pressure pushed me to do it (we then went out back and smoked before 7th period).

The initial process was a little overwhelming. There are links and pages out the whazoo and trying to figure out how the Facebook phenomenon worked was slightly intimidating. Not helping the situation was that on the second sign up page, the all-powerful, all-knowing computer listed pretty much everyone I've ever known complete with smiling picture.

Key to the whole process is having friends, which once both parties establish that they will in fact be friends, allows access to their personal pages. Seems simple enough, but at the same time seemed a little gym class-y. Who will pick whom? How exclusive are Facebook friends supposed to be? There are people who have thousands of friends (I think I might know 20 people in my whole life) and then there are people like my sister who have ratcheted up the security settings so high so that she can't be found that the director of the FBI wouldn't locate her.

I decided to throw out a few of those friend invitation thingies to people I was confident would accept, as I couldn't possibly handle rejection this early in the process. Blessed people accepted me into the community, and I was off and running. In fact, I was sprinting. Before I knew it, word of my signing up for Facebook had spread across a few people's pages and now I feared not sitting on-line by myself. The exclusivity issue had swung wildly in the other direction as acquaintances sought to be Facebook friends and that eventually continued into people I don't remember having a single meaningful conversation with asking for friendship to finally settling into someone I have never even heard of shooting me a friend invitation. I'm going to consult with Facebook experts to see if it's ok to reject them as friends being that it seems everyone accepts everyone in these parts.

In addition to offending these distant individuals come the inevitable clashing that is going to come with so many different friends from different walks of life coming together on the personal page. I've got two people I know don't like each other very much as friends. I've got hardcore Republicans and hardcore Democrats as friends. And this is to say nothing of the legions of you who don't pull for the Cleveland Indians.

The other oddball occurrence is the phrasing that, for example, JR and Drew are now friends! I've known JR for close to a decade but before that phrasing, our non-verbalized commitment to one another seemed incomplete. Now that he and I are Facebook friends, I feel as if we can take this to the next level - maybe hand holding. Ratcheting up the phrasing issue a notch, I was appreciative that the website reminded me that I was in fact married. Again, the sacred union Becky and I shared was lacking the firmness and long term committment of the updated Facebook profile. Not only was I married, I am now married to a Native American princess! Apparently married ladies on Facebook are known with the maiden name as their middle name on every post. Princess Bird Wolf is out seeking nuts and berries for dinner.

Probably the neatest aspect of this Facebook phenomenon is the ease with which pictures and other information are available and shared with individuals. I found out one former colleague is engaged to be married and saw photos of an individual I hadn't seen in years. As if e-mail weren't informal enough, Facebook provides an even easier medium to keep up with individuals that will make the trials and tribulations of the first day Facebook sign up worthwhile. Becky summarized well in saying that Facebook is the AOL Instant Messenger feature we all used so religiously in college souped up with pictures and other features. An evolution of AOL instant messenger, if you will, considering that Facebook has one of those direct chat things, too.

Overall, the general sentiment has been "welcome to the addiction." People tend to get caught up regularly checking their walls and their friends to see what everyone is up to. And honestly, I was checking the computer a little bit more frequently this first week of Facebook than I probably would have otherwise. That said, the content is going to be so vanilla that I can't believe that I would get permanently sucked up into a massive time warp. I don't know that I've seen a post more than two sentences, thereby limiting the depth of any post and certain topics are going to be off limits. I am not going to go on a "I hate work" rant because some employee or boss is likely to someday come across this page. Likewise, I will refrain from the "I went to a conservative radio talk show rally" last month for the reasons mentioned previously. Truly, the content will be light hearted, which will be fun and fine, though not altogether addictive.

So week one draws to a close on Facebook and it's a fun phenomenon. I kinda wish I knew who Brian Schwartz is and why he wants to be my friend, but it is nice to know that JR's first name is James.


Edwin said...

so help me god i thought his name was Jeremiah.

JR said...

It's actually Don.

CHCgirl said...

I have a colossally great facebook friending story for you.