Tuesday, December 16, 2008

About social networking . . .

Specifically the fbook.

I did join the other one, the one that starts with my, a few years ago, at the encouragement of my younger, hipper brother, but I didn't use it much. I found the whole thing a little silly, or maybe I felt silly.

I think there are two ways people respond to explosively popular cultural items or icons. I include fbook, Hannah Montana, and whatever toys have succeeded the phenomenon of the Cabbage Patch dolls I remember from my younger days. Fill in your own.

Most people, one has to assume, run with hands pressed to face in breathless excitement toward the new Wonder, otherwise it wouldn't be or stay popular, right?

A few of us, maybe we're elitists, too ironic for our own good, hopelessly uncool, or some combination of the three, we go in the opposite direction. Or at least we stand still, arms crossed, with a look of distrust (and maybe vague disgust) on our faces. Nah, not for me, we say.

But then I had this friend who would never call me back. The phone at her home would ring and ring, and whenever I tried her cell phone, it happened to be a day when her husband took it with him to work. She sometimes took weeks to respond to my emails. I have two reactions in these circumstances. My inner insecure teenage girl says, She doesn't really like you. Why would she want to be your friend? My more mature, rational adult says, She's busy. She has kids. She's in grad school. She has a job. You know what it's like. Anyway, this friend kept saying, Join fbook. I'm on it all the time, she said. And when we worked together, I remember seeing her check it when she had a spare moment, so I thought, hey maybe this way we can have a conversation.

Before that, of course, I'd disdained it a bit, for all the reasons that made me roll my eyes when I finally signed up. Do I really want to fling virtual thongs at people? Buy people virtual drinks? What is the point of all this? Don't I waste enough time as it is? I friended a few relatives and gazed at their lists of 100s of friends. I don't even know that many people, I thought. How could I keep up with that many people even if I did know them? Would I want to, even if I could? And I felt a little sorry for myself, a little inferior to the more social others, which was a comfortable and familiar place for me: the cozy pit of pity.

Then I found one of my high school friends. One of my best friends from high school, who I hadn't talked to since we'd just finished college. And I actually talked to her on the phone, and we wanted to keep catching up, and we are going to get together in person because she happens to live in the same city as my in-laws.

And speaking of my in-laws, I got into a messaging back-and-forth with one of my sisters-in-law, who I see a couple of times a year, have always liked, but never contacted much outside of those family events. And now I feel like I know her so much better, and she knows me better.

Then I found another old coworker from years ago, and some current and former classmates, and I'm probably going to keep finding people. I will probably never have 100 friends, but I may have more than I did before I started this whole fbook thing. I like that. I think it's good for me.

Even if I never do fling anything at you.


JG said...

Ditto on Facebook. Didn't like the other one when I saw people using it, sort of scoffed at this one. FInally was pressured into signing up. Suddenly -- a whole world opens before my eyes! Hi guys! Here I am!

MrsSpock said...

I've never seen the point of Fbook, and my husband is weird about having personal information out there...

Karen said...

You mean Spock isn't your real last name? ;)

I thought it was weird, too, but you can set your privacy setting so that no one can see anything but your name unless they "friend" you.

I think we will be the last generation who worries or has doubts about this sort of thing! Living online will just be the way it is. I don't know if that's scary or not.

P E T E R said...

I've heard this anxiety about "personal info" from others who were reluctant to join social networking sites. But the deal is that you put up whatever information you want. You could make the whole thing up if you so desired (although that would essentially defeat the purpose). It isn't as if you sign up and then hand over your social security number, home address, and medical history. You have complete control over what appears on your page.

Karen said...

But you, my dear brother, are of the newer generation . . . if not by every strict year definition, at least by the way you live and use technology.

Geohde said...

Facebook has me stumped. It's like high school dynamics all over again and I think I'm now too old and too tired!