Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Facebook - Friend Finder or "Full of Yourself" Forum

It's been just a little over a year since I was coerced into joining Facebook.

A few friends had suggested that it was "totally me" but it wasn't until my sister's wedding last October, when my cousin said, "Why don't you join FB; I can see your page now, all decorated and up-to-date. You should try it." that I finally asked, "Isn't FB for teens?"

"No it's really more for people our age looking to reconnect with old friends." she said.

"But I already talk to everyone I want to. What would be the point?" I replied.

"It's fun. Just give it a try."

I finally figured that enough people had thought this was something I'd be interested in doing to at least check it out. So I did. Yikes! I had no real idea what I was in for...

For anyone not familiar with the process, when you open a Facebook account it immediately populates your possible friend list with everyone in your email address book who currently has a FB account. I was blown away... I had no idea so many people used FB. And for what, I was about to find out. But first I had to decide how "I" would be using it.

I sent friend requests to anyone who was family - figuring it was an easy way to distribute photos. And I sent friend requests to friends I was already on a somewhat regular contact schedule with - figuring it would make catch-up easier. I did not "friend" anyone who was merely an acquaintance - mommies at school, PTA members, the owner of my favorite beach boutique (man, it seemed everyone was on FB but me). If I had ever written an email to anyone regarding whatever, and they had a FB account, here they were, popping up to be my "friend".

My plan was in place and still holds today... if you are not someone I would like to speak with on a regular basis, then I'm not interested in talking to you here. Sadly, with that mindset I wasn't going to win any popularity contests. As I watched the number of people on my friends' FB pages increase, I was determined to keep mine to a manageable amount and not wear my total number of friends like a badge of honor. My number may be small, but I keep in contact with each and every one of them.

Those first few weeks, people were coming out of the woodwork from as far back as Kindergarten to the aforementioned boutique owner. I did a great amount of "ignoring" - which for those few people not on FB, essentially means, "I don't want to be your friend". It didn't bother me any, some of these people had no right to ask for my friendship in the first place... like the mean girl from elementary school who picked on me mercilessly - are you kidding me? Happily I was able to reconnect with many old friends that through time and distance I had lost touch with, and it's been my greatest joy in this process to find them again.

With the base for my friend list in place, I began to add photos and play the games, post updates to my page on a somewhat daily basis, and post comments to my friends' post often... I was up and running. That's when I first noticed the patterns and habits of my fellow FBers.

Facebook has become, I'm unhappy to admit, a bit of an obsession with me. Just as I check my email throughout the day, so too do I check in on FB.

Each morning, I post something - my feelings on my day to come, a quote or question of the day, a piece from the news that strikes me in some way - but I try to throw things out into the FB world that will be provocative either from the point of shared experience ("I hate grocery shopping too") or the questions that plague me that I hope to gain some insight ("What can I do about mean girls in my daughter's life?").

Ultimately, my goal to make a connection, begin a discussion, talk with those people I have "friended". That's why it frustrates me to no end when I see many fellow FBers just talking about themselves with no attempt to open a dialogue. There they are, standing center stage, spotlight on them, talking... not discussing, not responding, not being a friend.

The "home" page on FB is where you will find listed all the daily musings of your friends. This is what I check throughout the day so that I can reply to friends in a meaningful way... the way I would like a conversation to go. Is it any wonder why I find it so irritating to see that someone I know, posted something out there at the same time I did without commenting on what I said but here I am replying to them? Is that selfish of me to expect to have some kind of back and forth with the people who are supposed to be my "friends"? Are we all just standing on that stage talking over each other or was the point of this connection on FB suppose to be about, oh, I don't know, connecting?

What gets me even more is that in most cases, these people don't even bother to reply to the comments posted beneath their own "status update". Are you kidding me? You threw something out into to space and someone bothered to throw it back and you're not even going to thank them for giving you back the ball. Are you so self absorbed? It's like you're just waiting for the reviews to come in on your performance which would be all well and good if you were in fact, performing for the crowd instead of talking with your "friends".

I have to get up the nerve to start blocking people I now regret having "friended".

Equally as annoying are those people who never write anything. You see them on your daily home page, accumulating friends but they never post on their page, they never reply to yours or anyone else's, but you know they are there, reading, lurking, sitting in the audience just watching the show. "Hello! I'm talking to you! Is anyone home?" Facebook makes it easy these days, you don't even have to post a comment. You can just hit "like". It's a little button that says "yes, I acknowledge you and give validity to what you are saying". All that and you don't have to come up with a witty retort. And yet, for some, it's still too much work.

My problem is not with Facebook. It gives us all the means to make those connections with people we may not get a chance to speak with face to face as often as we'd like. Through distance and circumstances we don't have those relationships with our friends that we once had. This is the ideal forum for "keeping in touch".

No, my problem is with those who abuse the privilege of friendship. It's a two way street not a stage. Don't "friend" me to add to your audience, be my friend. Which means at the very least, checking in from time to time.

I leave you with this example: I have a friend who's birthday was yesterday. She and I share a set of mutual friends on FB. As the day went on, I saw most of the regular users of FB add comments to her page with birthday wishes. One "friend" did not, but he did post 4 times to his own page suggesting he was using FB throughout the day and had ample availability to drop her a note. FB sends you a notice that a friend's birthday is coming up in the days to come. You can't miss it, it's on your home page... you know the one where other people besides yourself talk and you have to read about someone other than yourself.

Maybe he did in fact miss it. He was probably preoccupied with adding more audience members, oops, I mean "friends" to his list.

6 comments:

  1. Where is the 'like' button for your blog????

    :-)

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  2. LOL!!! Thank you for that, Sistah!!!

    Enjoy that beautiful noise you posted about earlier. If asked what is my favorite sound, I'd always answer the sound of children laughing... it's a tie for worst sound between babies crying and children whining.

    Have an awesome day friend!

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  3. FB is a funny thing, isn't it?

    I came in on the other side of things. I accepted all 'friend' requests out of fear of hurting someone's feelings. How dumb is that? After I realized this was a fairly ridiculous practice I would go through and 'clean up' (delete) my friend list.

    After reading your post today it reminds me...time for another cleaning! :)

    Ginger

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  4. Oh, yeah. I can understand why FB can be such a pain. Especially when you said the person from elementary school who picked on you wanted to add you as a friend. I had that same experience. A former 8th grade bully of mine all of a sudden thought it would be fun to ask me for a friend request. Oh boy did I ever rip her a new a-hole! Even wrote a poem about it that I have yet to add to my blog. That was the only good thing that came of that friend request. And she hasn't re-asked me again ;)
    It really does amaze me that so many people who wouldn't give me the time of day on the street we were both walking on who want to become friends on the internet with me. I am really thinking I want to cancel my FB account.

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  5. I've been quite adept at hitting "ignore" ;-).
    Looking forward to your "Bully Blog".

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