Sunday, June 08, 2008

Confession: I'm cheating on you . . .

I'm cheating on my blog . . . with FACEBOOK. I admit it- the hugely popular social networking site has sucked me in, and siphoned off all my spare computer time since last weekend. So I decided to blog about my recent online passion.

I'd had a very basic profile on Facebook (no photos or anything) for about a year, and kept getting "friended," so I had about 50 "friends," but it was not until my husband jumped aboard that I started to get really interested. A couple weeks ago, I realized he was finding all sorts of old friends from high school and having fun email exchanges with the ghosts of classmates and acquaintances past. So I decided to investigate it for myself. And BOY, am I addicted.

Here's why I was resistant to Facebook (or "FB" as I call it now, since we are so intimate lately):

1. I thought it was "for the kids." I had somehow got into my head that FB was something akin to MySpace, i.e., a huge time-suck where teenagers (and those who want to act like teenagers) create some weird online persona and strive to acquire "friends" by the boatload, or promote their singing career. There is certainly a place for MySpace, but not in MYWorld.

2. I thought it was another boring business networking site. (I realize that this inconsistent with #1.) Because I was getting "friended" by grown-ups and business associates, I thought it was like Linked In or one of those really dull/flat business-oriented websites.

3. I don't need more online distractions. 'Nuff said.

4. I don't want to learn how to use any new technology. This reason is just plain lame. I'm not 90 years old. And if the technology is useful and cool (as FB is), it is well worth investing a few days to get myself up to speed. Done.

Why I am an enthusiastic convert to FB:

1. The ability to find people (long-lost or close-by) quickly and efficiently. FB allows you to search "networks," so I was able to search my high school and college class years and come up with a list of people that was essentially like looking at a yearbook, but with updated faces and the ability to reach out and touch them immediately. Amazing!Once I started poking around, I was encouraged when I immediately found a long-lost high school friend- the guy who won "Class Clown" with me! Turns out, we'd both been trying to reconnect for 15 years, but it took just a few minutes on FB, and I wasn't even looking for him! Nothing like a trip to Clowndom to lift one's spirits - it was like we hand't missed a beat.

2. The ability to readily cyber-stalk in a socially acceptable way. Another great feature is that you can search other people's "friends" lists. So you can basically find a specific person, then poke around in their online Rolodex. How powerful is that? I actually told John that, despite the stupid amount of time I've spent on FB in the past week, I rationalized that it was actually a time saver, since I'm able to find and get updates on all kinds of random people so easily. I know, I have a "problem." But one article I read about FB said this was perfectly acceptable to do. In fact, it said "Stalk like it was your job."

3. Keeping connected to people who are far away. Since most of my friends and family are in Los Angeles, it is really fun to log on and be greeted with photos of people's kids and travels and lives. I also love a feature called "Status" which, like "twitter," is essentially a micro-blog that answers the question "what are you doing right now." I know it sounds crazy, but it's fun to see my FB "news feed" full of entries like "Marie is considering a latte" and "Eric is hungry" and "Tara loved seeing XYZ band play at XYZ club last night" and "Allison changed her name!" Such insignificant details are really intimate and make me feel much closer to these people, in a weird way that I hadn't expected.

FB is not for everyone:

FB takes a little getting used to. If you are not willing to invest the time to figure out how it works (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) you should probably not venture on there. Otherwise you will inadvertently be sending out all sorts of communications you had not intended. Luckily, there are others out there who are even more obsessed with FB, such as this woman who has devoted an entire blog to FB etiquette.

Building the FB army:

If you are reading this and I haven't "friended" you or invited you to FB, it's probably because I think you have not discovered the magic of FB for yourself, and will think I'm pathetic (just as I had regarded those who were "friending" me over the last year!) If you are not on FB, get on there, quick! And "friend" me, dammit- I miss you! That said, I'm already plotting my exit strategy on some over-friending I did in my initial exuberance- the Great Facebook Friend Purge of 2008? Sounds like a blog entry!

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