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?
Truthfully, Facebook is too impersonal for my taste. Online speak such as LOL, TTYL, TMI, JS, etc. further impersonalizes everything.
Granted, I use Facebook but really just as a tool for keeping connected. I prefer to have my conversations in the form of, well, conversations. I like to talk to people. I like to hear their stories. I like to see their body language and gesticulation when they speak. And when I can’t be in front of people I do use email but you know what? I’m a letter writer. People feel special when they see you have taken time to put pen to paper. It’s the little things in life that matter and you don’t get that on Facebook.
With Facebook you may know what people are up to, but you will soon find you don’t really and truly know them anymore. You just know what they are up to. No doubt this is why I get a non-stop stream of “getting to know you” type lists from people via Facebook. I prefer to connect with people in a real and meaningful way, not virtually.
Facebook, and whatever new app that will replace it soon enough, is fine as a means to an end but when it becomes an end unto itself it just isn’t for me.
I have twice now signed onto Facebook and twice deactivated my account. I am back on Facebook, for now anyways. Truthfully, for the most part, I find it boring. If I want to have the kind of conversations people seem to like on there, I would much rather meet at Starbucks.
I started a blog hoping for the more meaningful “conversation” that I have seen on other blogs. But commenting must be an acquired skill. I have friends who read my posts but don’t comment and it drives me insane.
I do love Twitter because if you are boring, you are boring in less than 140 characters, and if you are fascinating, it is like getting a small gift every day. And, nobody really expects an “answer” to a Tweet.
But all friends use it as a place to let everyone know what is going on in their life, which means your response can be read by everyone. Sigh. Ambivalence rules.
For me Facebook is too much. I am on it, yes, but to just kind of keep in touch. I would much rather just talk to the person or email if that is all the person wants. I do see the value of Facebook in being like a reunion bazaar but that is all.
Too much to do and you feel like you have to be on it for the majority of the day to really be connected. Then if you are not on it constantly you feel like you are letting whomever down.
I like your analogy to the party and it being time to finally go home.
I know everything is in its infancy, and I look forward to the day when it is just part and parcel of keeping in touch and not the end all be all.
Great post! The jury is still out for me on Facebook. I love that my family is there, and some friends who, as Kat said, visit my blog but never comment. They do seem to comment on Facebook.
It is a little overwhelming, and I’m finding myself starting to “unfriend” people I don’t know who send out too many invites, talk too much, or otherwise clog my newsfeed with stuff I’m not interested in. Like walking away from that endless chatterbox at the party. LOL! I do like that you can do that!
But I don’t know. I blog, I twitter, now I facebook. I do admit, it gets to be a bit much and I am constantly reminding myself not to ignore the live humans in my house for what’s going on in cyberspace.
I tend to ebb and flow from these places, and have yet to find a steady balance. Maybe in time?
The more I think about it, the more I like your take on Facebook, a raucous party with lots going on. You flit from one group to another catching up but at some point this is tiring. At big parties, I inevitably find a group having an interesting conversation or discussion and stay put. The constant, sometimes inane, chatter can be annoying.
I guess I am guilty of doing what I accuse my friends of~! When I get a chance, I quickly read their status updates on Facebook and then move on. I do not for the most part leave comments.
I may be talking myself into deactivating again~! (Sheesh, I sound like a bomb.)
I’m still kind of a Facebook wallflower, I’m there, I talk to people I recognize for a little while, but I’m pretty sure I could leave at any time without anyone noticing. Now I’m thinking that maybe that’s a good thing …. I like to check in and see what people are up to, but the truth is, once I’ve caught up with everyone from college and high school, there’s not that much more to say.
Maybe they should have Facebook compartments, where people don’t just join your entire Facebook universe when you befriend them, but just whatever particular departments you feel like inviting them into. So, if someone from your “college” compartment posted a picture of that night you choose not to remember from your sophomore year, at least your parents would get flagged with a notice that there’s a new picture of you. It might allow people to maintain a little space between their worlds.
It sounds like everyone is having a similar experience — having a ball with it at first, but then tiring of it after awhile. I know there are a lot of people who use it every day, though.
I wonder if the way you use/relate to Facebook is very much the way you use/behave at big parties in real life???
Mizwrite poses another interesting question. It very well may be the way some of us are at gatherings. When you enter there are people and it’s fun to meet and/or catch up with those you know. After a time though you’ve caught up and then there is that awkward silence where the inevitable “interesting weather we’ve been having” rears its awkward head. Same with Facebook, interesting toy but then you might rarely get on or feel like updating.
I’ll be writing more in depth on this topic on my Facebook page…
I have had a great time on Facebook for the most part. Reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in a long while is my favorite part about it. I do like the function where I can live chat with my friends and have used it often.
The thing I don’t like about Facebook is receiving friend requests from people I’ll never talk to again. I’ve had a couple of people request being friends but they’ve not talked via Facebook since. I find that really awkward. I can’t help but feel it’s an attempt by that person to pad how many friends they have on Facebook. I have nothing to base this on other than a gut feeling, but it seems to me to be a valid point.
Kat and Lori — I have the same ambivalence as both of you, using all types of social media but unsure which I enjoy most. (Although I think I can say, hands down, I do enjoy blogging the most!) But your descriptions of each are right on. Don’t give up blogging! Yes, getting comments takes time. (And I appreciate your commenting here!) I think a lot of people who read blogs don’t know how much their comments mean to the blogger. Just keep asking people to comment and give it time!
Dave, Chris and Bill — I think you all sound like you have a similar interest/disinterest level for Facebook. In fact, now that I think about it, I don’t know of too many men who love, love, love it. They all seem fairly ambivalent about it, as you all are. Do you all make connections on Facebook the way you’d make connections at a “real” party?
Jeanne — That’s cool that you’ve had a great time on Facebook so far. In my “party” theory, would you be similarly social at a real-life party? But yes, you do bring up a good point: Facebook does bring on a whole new level of social awkwardness! Like, do you friend that person you hardly know? And what to do with the people who connect and then never say anything? I guess we can look at it as a great big address book.