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Dear Facebook: I'm Confused!

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

I think I take this Facebook stuff too literally.

As of today, I have 41 Facebook friends -- a nice mix of longtime friends, relatives, former co-workers, fellow bloggers, group members, and email-list folks. I make new friend requests sparingly, trying to carefully decide if I've known someone long enough and well enough for them to give a damn about where I take a walk or what I have for dinner. And I'm always surprised when they don't turn me down.

Then I see someone on my Facebook list who has 939 friends! And another with 738! Clearly, they look at this social-networking thing differently than I do.

Curious, I looked up "friend" on my desktop dictionary and found this definition: "A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection...."

This sounds along the line of the definition I'd come up with, although I'd add things about two people getting together when they can, and touching base regularly to catch up on each other's lives and support each other in challenging times.

Something I couldn't do with my 939 nearest and dearest!

I'm surprised by some of the friend invitations I get. Sometimes I'll hear from a person I know from a list and I'm happy to add her, but sometimes I hear from people I don't know from Adam. One person has tried to friend me on two or possibly three sites, and it took me a little digging to figure out what was the person's (very faint) connection to me. I've heard from people I don't recognize on Twitter and on Reunion (which I don't even use!), and I'm wondering what the point is.

If they really want to get in touch but not go the Facebook route, there's always email. My address hasn't changed in 15 years!

Even with only 41 people to follow, I feel like reading my Facebook is like panning for gold -- sifting through a lot of trivia to get to the good stuff about people's day-to-day lives, activities, families, etc. If I had to plow through more than 500 names, I don't know how I'd be able to keep up with my friends' doings.

Oh, and I have invented a word -- "anticybersocial" -- for what I fear I may be when it comes to pokes, superpokes, and "(lil) Green Patch" requests. In Rhett Butler's words, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." I suppose this means I'm no fun, but I'd rather know what you're genuinely up to than be given things that don't exist! It's similar to how I feel about joke emails. I'd rather hear actual news...

Maybe some of my Facebook hangups are generational; I'm almost (ulp!) 50 and I'm becoming high-tech by sheer determination rather than gut instinct. I'm the cranky older lady wondering why people constantly need cell phones glued to their ears, and I don't feel the need for most of the current tech gadgets.

Maybe -- probably! -- people half my age wouldn't think twice before sending friend requests to my cousins' kids, even though they haven't seen me in about ten years. And likely people that age wouldn't hesitate to 'friend' a friend-of-a-friend, just because she sounds smart and fun.

It's a whole new world out there for people like me, who went to college with manual typewriters and to work with IBM Selectrics. There are new social rules, and for slow studies like me, it would help if there were a manual.

I can't hide forever, for I see from my dictionary that the new world is official now. There is a recent definition for friend, as a verb: "Add (someone) to a list of friends or contacts associated with a weblog or electronic list."

Elsewhere online, there's a quote that says, “A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

That's something I hope will never change!

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)
My Facebook friend list "growed like Topsy." I joined FB >2 yrs ago, before it became so popular. At that time I swore I was the oldest person on Facebook. I started "friending" people who were closer to my age because I was looking to do social networking, so I ended up with a nice stable of friends, none of whom I knew. In the past year, FB has become more appealing to us old timers (50 isn't old--that's barely a kid. I will turn 66 in 2 hours) and so I've reconnected with old friends, friends from various groups, friends my kids grew up with, etc., to where my list swelled to now >500. (I also read something about FB etiquette recently and it is apparently good manners to accept someone's offer to friend you...so in most instances I do). And yes, it was a challenge to find the gold among the stuff I wasn't interested in, but I have come up with a system that works for me:

- I ignore almost all invitations to do any thing that requires me to install anything
- I joined almost no groups (and left a lot that I had joined 2 years ago)
- I ignore almost all gifts from people I don't know because they are just really silly, at least to me
- I learned to set up friends groups so if I only want to know the status and activity of my (grown) children, I just pull up the kids friends list. Or any of the other people I have separated into groups. It has made FB MUCH more fun (and, sadly, much more addictive) for me!
Feb. 17th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
Great post, my dear... I love, love,love the cartoon.... It is absolutely perfect.... I have not yet joinded FB, regardless (so far) of how much grief I get from everybody..... Blogging is my speed.... there are enough friendly strangers there...
Feb. 19th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
As you've noticied, I don't do much on facebook, and I ignore all those little memes that go around there.
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
I try to only befriend people that I know and have spoken to. There are a few people from high school that send me a friend invite but I never spoke to them in high school so I "ignored". Sorry people, nothing personal.

I don't find having hundreds of friends worthwhile.
Feb. 21st, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
Hi Linda - all I can say to this blog is...
Amen, sister.
Jeanne - your favorite nebula-painting soon-to-be-blog-buddy. I have set up a site and would love to pick your brain on the process. catch me on Facebook - hahaha!
Seriously, do.
J. :-)
Feb. 21st, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
Re: Facebook
Jeanne -- Thanks and welcome to the bloggerhood! Can't wait to check out your site!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )