Friends, acquaintances, relatives, crushes of years gone by, classmates (high school and college), the ladies I met through a wedding planning website, people who knew me from 7th grade and earlier and last but not least, my dear husband—
Lend me your ears. Or, rather, your eyes.
Let’s talk about Facebook.
I know, I know. I was born in the ‘70’s, the era of bad hair, bad car designs and mostly bad music. Given the site's original purpose of having college-aged members, I have no business there. Facebook is where you broadcast your most miniscule thoughts, post the most obscure photos from your meager existence or sign up to be a fan of Duran Duran simply by clicking the link on their page. What respectable 30 something does that? Okay, I do that here too, but Facebook lets you gather all of that information from looking at just a few pages. As much of your life that you want out there is available for the world or just your “friends” to see, neatly catalogued in a series of tabbed pages.
“What’s the point of those ‘networking’ sites anyway?”
This was asked of me by my husband, who, within a few short months easily surpassed me in the number of “friends” in his account. It’s not surprising—even at my own reunion, more people remembered him than me. That's just the kind of guy he is. ♥
“I never got into the Facebook thing,” said my sister. In other words, “I’m too cool for that bullshit.” “Hm. I didn’t know you were on there,” I replied, “’Friend’ me!”
Days later, she had reconnected with her best friend from junior high school. Junior high! Now it’s not uncommon to find my sister lurking there when I’m on as well. Too cool, indeed.
I have no idea what spurred me to get an account. Curiosity, I guess? I wanted to know what was the big deal about Facebook. I had already seen MySpace and was none too impressed. The bad wallpaper, the musical loops some people attached to their craptastic pages—unless there’s some reason that I find myself in need of raising my blood pressure, testing my retinas or inducing a seizure, I say good day and no thank you to all of that.
Then there’s Facebook—relatively bland in comparison, with its blue border and white pages. Fine, I told myself, let’s give it a whirl.
Now here comes the weird part—if you arrive uninvited, you get tempted to do searches. “Let’s see if so-and-so’s on here?” You think.
Then you do the search. Then you sift through all of the people with the same or similar names until you land on who you presume is the right person. The thought that follows is this:
“If I send out a friend request, the person will know I searched for them.”
“…this person will think I’m a stalker.”
I have a tough time with those friend requests because I’m overly concerned about what the recipient is going to think of me.
Is it going to be:
“Heh-heh-heh, I knew she would never forget me.”
“Is this the same person I knew from school/work/the Army/(and so on)?”
Or, simply, a harmless but kind of mortifying:
I have a pretty recognizable name, but just because I think it’s recognizable is no guarantee that everyone else will remember.
I have to get over this, I know. I have gotten a few requests that were complete shockers, taking me back two decades to the days when life was so much simpler (even though I didn’t know it at the time). Never have I thought of someone as a stalker even if they obviously went through the task of typing my name into the search engine.
Once in awhile I have gotten a request and thought, “Who?” but it’s rare, I promise. If I forgot you, let me say in my defense that the memory is the first to go. Did I already mention I was 33?
So what about these "friends?" Some friends are closer to the true meaning of the word than others, but here they all carry equal standing, and they're all a mouse click away, neatly arranged in an alphabetized list.
After you sign up you get to the business of setting up your profile. This includes schools you attended, places you work, where you live and of course, the part where you talk about you, yourself and a few of your favorite things. At first I had all kinds of stuff about favorite movies, TV shows and quotations. Then I looked at it and thought, “So what?” So I deleted it. But to those following my saga, I am halfway through my definitive collection of the Twilight Zone, my TV watching is spotty these days and I have a couple of quotations, but they're both from Stephen King. What does that say about me?
Then there's the photo. What face do you want to present to the rest of the world? This is kind of nice because you can choose one where you have on a cute outfit or where your hair looks good. You have the benefit of choosing one of your better days versus the hand you were dealt when you woke up that morning. You can look bored, maniacal, happy or furious. Why not add in the kid(s), the pet, or the significant other? You can be portrayed in an artistic black and white headshot or standing at a distance, at a creative angle. Or be edgy and represent yourself in a "Where's Waldo" fashion as a face in a crowd, or better yet as an image of some other random person, place or thing. Those who truly know you won't have to ask; they'll get the joke. And if you don’t like the photo, no worries, you can change it anytime.
Back to the original question: what's the point? You get to show summarize your life to everyone else, but you show only what you choose to display. And so does everyone else.
Deep, right? (okay, not really, but work with me, I had to wrap up this up eventually)