Another weekend, another couple hours on Facebook … yes?
Actually, I wasn’t able to spend much time on Facebook this week or this weekend, and I was surprised at how much guilt I felt. I received an “out of office” pingback from a girlfriend, in fact, and when I hurriedly sent a different e-mail to her home to ask about her absence (her pingback mentioned surgery), she said “Check out my Facebook page for details. …” Gulp. (As in “You obviously haven’t been reading my Facebook page.”) More guilt. Am I supposed to be reading it every night? I got on Facebook to have a little fun, but now I’m wondering if signing up is sort of like signing a contract to spend at least a half an hour on it per day. Or else you might get Superpoked.
If Twitter is the great big networking cocktail party (where you stand around swirling your Manhattan, looking for someone to introduce yourself to), surely Facebook is the raucous Christmas party in your family’s home basement, no? It’s the casual-sweater-wearing crowd, where everyone is sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the couch, passing photos up and down the line.
At first, I really liked this casualness. I loved getting in touch with old friends, and I loved looking at everyone’s pictures. I loved running into my uncle and various cousins, out of the blue, and I loved that a friend from junior high found me there, as well as a long-lost friend from college.
But … I don’t know, now I’m feeling like the party has gone on a little too long. It’s 3 a.m., people. And now I’ve got so many dissimilar people hanging around in my basement that I’m not sure what to do with all of them. I’ve got coworkers mingling with cousins, my husband’s friends mingling with my friends’ kids, friends from high school blending with friends from college. … It reminds me a little of that Seinfeld episode where George yells out his “worlds are colliding.”
I know my discomfort might partially be a generational thing. People my age and older grew up with the constant acknowledgment of TMI. It was considered completely inappropriate to talk about politics, sex or religion at work. Additionally, your grandma didn’t need to know about the six vodka shooters you had last night, and your boyfriend’s parents didn’t need to know he had cute nicknames for various parts of your anatomy. But on Facebook, this is all a blur. All these people are coming together. It’s like some weird cosmic party, where your photos and stories and nicknames and pasts are all out there … for your kids, your relatives, your coworkers, your friends, people you know well and people you barely know at all. It’s a little bizarre.
But maybe it’s not a generational difference. I was telling my husband that, as uncomfortable as my generation can feel about co-workers mingling with cousins, the younger generation is going to get a dose of discomfort, too. Because their parents are joining Facebook. In droves. And every time one of my teenage son’s friends responds to something he’s posted, I can see it (whether I want to or not). Kids even have their grandparents on Facebook, as well as their parents’ friends, all looking at their “Wall” of comments. As uncomfortable as we might feel that our adult friends are posting memories of our drunken Mexico vacations for our kids to see, how do you think our kids must feel when their teenage friends are blatantly flirting or sharing strange inside jokes for us to see? We would have died if our parents could have read all those lined-notepad notes we were passing back and forth in History class. …
So tell me your opinions, and your adventures, on Facebook – Love it? Hate it? Does anything make you uncomfortable? And how do you fit it into your day?