Monday, January 26, 2009

Facebook is weird.

So: we're all on Facebook. Isn't it strange? When I say "we all," I mean literally we all -- everybody, except a few of your odd curmudgeon friends, are on there. MySpace was never like this. Did people you've wished you could talk to for twenty years from high school come out of the woodwork to reunite with you on MySpace? Maybe a few of them, sure, but all of them, like is happening on Facebook? Did MySpace allow you to post odd, semi-coherent statements and have people comment on your brilliant wit? It did not, and how cool is that? And Facebook doesn't look like the dashboard of a shitty low-rider car -- it's one size fits all, and its readable and makes sense, and you can keep track of friends you'd lost track of since you were, like, nine years old. It's cool. It really is, I must admit, despite my earlier reservations.

Okay, but Facebook also has created some...unusual...social situations that have never, ever existed before. There's no Hints from Heloise to advise you how to navigate 'em, either -- you're out in weird cyber social-freakout-land, and you're on your own, and if you mess up your Facebook etiquette (or whatever!) you feel just as stupid as that time you got really drunk on wine cooler at that high school party and vomited on that girl you had a huge crush on. It really feels that awkward, and since half the people you're interacting with are from High School, it feels even more odd.

LIKE:

- You get friended by someone who, in high school, you had no interaction with other than them occasionally elbowing you in the hallway, calling you "fag" or threatening to beat the shit out of your best friend. What do you do? I mean, you're old now. That was a long, long time ago. Do you forgive and forget? Do you let it go? Do you ignore? What's the right thing to do, there?

- You run across your ex's sisters. You have since (mostly!) made amends for whatever horrors you inflicted upon your ex (in my case, being an immature moron the entire time we were together, and then breaking up with her for no reason at all -- seriously, I could not have sucked more) and you figure "ah, my ex and I are friends, now, and that was ten-plus years ago, so maybe her sisters will want to friend me." And so you try. But then they don't. And now you feel stupid!

- You friend someone you thought you were good friends with, and they don't respond. Or worse yet -- they reject your friendship! Your entire feeling of well-being is suddenly thrown into question.

I'm sure you've run across a few yourself, in your effort to build a friend-list and reunite with people in your life that you've missed. Right? I mean, there needs to be a guidebook.

And what's more -- what is Facebook doing to BLOGGING? It used to be whenever I had a whim to discuss something or pontificate about something, I'd come over to the blog and post a line or two. I'd maybe get three, four, five comments, and think "wow, my post made a difference in people's lives." But now? I can go over to Facebook, post my clever little comment or my YouTube video or my thought about this band or that, and get FORTY comments. But those are all just my friends -- and my gigantic ego wants random strangers to be able to read my "deep thoughts." What will happen? Will blogging get folded into the Facebook Experience? Or what?

I dunno. I'm interested in everybody's thoughts on this. Part of me thinks I should just post this on Facebook but I'm trying to be a gap-bridger, here. DISCUSS.

24 comments:

Brian Chidester said...

I've spent the last ten years listening to the older guard impress the young man with their knowledge. I suppose high school friends bring me back to the days when I had relatively nothing to say, and I find myself reaching for something that will prove I'm still an American. Why do I want to be so badly? Great post, dude. I wish we could hang out sometime soon and seriously open up the debate on best '70s band. I know THAT will get us somewhere in life. Because, well, all else has failed and will continue so...

Prince Gomolvilas said...

Ah, you were so suspicious of Facebook before...but now you are SUCKED IN! You can't escape now, pal! Facebook now pwns your balls forever!

Prince Gomolvilas said...

Oh, and, Jon, if you share a link to your blog post on Facebook, then you get the satisfaction of readers in both environments!

Cybele said...

No, totally the Facebook has poison-darted my bloggylife. There are other factors, but SRSLY. And Yes to the nettiquite issues, and Yes to the weirdness of friending, not friending or unfriending AND the weirdness of using 'friend' as a verb. In the meantime, you don't even address how to deal with friend requests from people who you don't even know who they are. Like, okay, you were at the Ren Fest. Good. Or, you work at the RenFest. Great. I mean, I had one that was all "I took pictures of you several years ago", and another "you're going to be working with my wife, who will work there", which, no, not really, I'm not: we're at the same place working, which isn't the same thing at all. Or others, no explaination. Scuse me, who? anyway, thanks for letting me perch on your soapbox awhile.

Beques said...

You can actually see who rejects your friend request? Did I miss something, here?

Oh, and as usual, AWESOME usage of italics, Jon.

MissTrixi said...

There certainly is a lot of strange and awkward Facebookery out there.

What I love is watching the dynamics of a relationship break down over facebook. When you get that notfication on the home page that 'so and so have ended their relationship' it should be accompanied by the 'whua wah waaaah' sound of the muted trumpet of despair. Then you get to witness days and weeks of both parties lamenting via their status reports. Thinly veiled remarks to either tug at their lost loves heartstrings, or show how of a dumb ass their ex was for letting them go because they are so much cooler now- but it doesn't matter because they are 'strong' and 'moving on'- *pine*.

The beginnings of a relationship can be fun to witness too, but the cute factor wears off too quickly and you're left almost yearning for that broken heart symbol next to their names to pop up on the home page. Me? Cynical ? Nah - jonny's blog has turned into one giant relationship announcement notification, and you are going to have to wait a lifetime to see that broken heart symbol pop up for either one of us again.

One thing I could really do without is seeing my ex's big, round, chinny mug pop up on friends pages. *shiver* At least I'm getting used to that, and it does often remind me of the much better turns my life has taken since he left. That, my friends, is a Facebook bonus!

As for ex's popping up from the FAR past. Of course your curiosity can get the better of you and you friend that person that you once shared malts with at the Five & Dime. It can be a total blast catching up, but life is a journey forward. It doesn't do us any good to get all moony eyed again..specially if someone else is now wearing that persons class ring.

xo
Trix

Amber said...

I find the same thing happening with Twitter...instead of snarky (or brilliantly insightful, as is usually the case) comments that I would normally post on my blog and perhaps expand on, I just post them on Twitter. Which is going to change. You should have to click on my blog and drive my stats up if you want to have your life forever changed by my innermost thoughts and feelings.

LAP said...

I think facebook notes are practically blogs, but with a different readership. If Molly Walsh and I revived the Hunk o' Junk fanzine at facebook, we'd have almost the exact same readership (although it's almost mysterious that none of the old Garage d'Or staff has surfaced yet on facebook)..

Speaking of exes, I watched an ex-bf of mine who I friended mostly to just not address why I wouldn't want to be friends with him, and watched him bobble back and forth from married, to it's complicated, to interested in women and men (?!) to now divorced. It was almost like reality tv...

Jon Hunt said...

You and Molly Walsh SHOULD start the Hunk o' Junk fanzine on Facebook!!

LAP said...

It wouldn't be the same without being able to review Curtiss A's Ladies' Nights at the Uptown. (which we'd watch through the front window, usually with cones from McDonalds...)

Brash Lion said...

Trix and I were IMing about this whole thing today (I love living in the future)... and my first inclination was to reject those dudes that called you "fag." Then, I thought, if those bitches that gave me a hard time in school wanted to friend me, I would GLADLY accept because I'm pretty certain that I am doing spectacularly better in life than most of my classmates are: as in, I'm single, I'm still thin and hot, and I am living my dream (or well on my way). You are not single, but are all of the rest of the above (and your lady is super hot too). Not to sound trite, but this is your revenge, my friend: to show those fuckers you're living well.

As for the blogging: I have my blog address on my page and my stats have definitely gone up. No one comments too much still, but I know from the attention I get from my status updates, it seems people are curious of what I say in long-form. And I do what Prince says too - post links to particular entries.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those random strangers that has read your blog for some time, and like its home in the regular anonymous Internets world. The thing that consistently nags at me about user-generated content sites, and I am a participant myself, is the way that my personal input is used for profit by someone else. It's like HAL gone all marketing executive. Facebook and others like it gear specific advertising to me, mining my own data, interests, and usage, and make, or try to make, money using content I have provided to them. This becomes obvious when an ad pops up I can directly tie to something I placed on my page, be it an interest I have cited or a fan page I have joined, etc. It nonetheless still jars me on occasion. Far more insidious are the cutesy messages I receive in my FB inbox when I haven't played a game in awhile, because the powers-that-be want me to spend more time logged onto FB, thus attracting more advertisers. Same goes for highlighting what kinds of fan pages my friends have joined; the more fan pages I am enticed to join, the more they know about my interests, and can potentially advertise to me. And beyond just trying to attract me to a product or company, ala Don Draper, my usage and content is being used to attract a company or product that will pay FB for advertising, and then these companies and products will use my usage and content again to specifically appeal to me on my FB page. It's hard not to be a bit cynical and wary about this advertising cycle.

Please know I realize that I have a Big Brother complex (and I shouldn't since I'm Gen X, not Baby Boomer), and understand the simple value in connecting with friends and people online. I'm not out to actually stick it to The Man. But I also think we should care, a little, how our personal info is used, even though the very purpose of social networking/user generated content eschews privacy for openness. Somewhere George Orwell is leaving a ;)

belsum said...

Huh.

Becky said...

As you know, I am a FB addict. I guess you figured that out because I am always online when you are! I know what you mean about the *weird* situations though. I was hounded by a friend request from an old school'friend'...I hesitate to call her a friend because I just remember her as an out and out bully. I couldn't figure out why she wanted my friendship now, after all this time. OK now this next part is bad. I'm glad that I did finally accept her request because OH BOY does she look rough now, and about 20 years older than me. Is that sick? I don't tend to converse with her, and I did put her on my 'restricted profile' list because I don't like the idea of non-true friends looking at my photos.
But yes, I love Facebook. I do. I'm also getting to know one or two very awesome people who I have yet to meet in person, too..
And COME ON, *everyone* loves to nose at other people's photos!

Superbadfriend said...

I am still trying to figure out if some sort of paradox is going to happen with the whole, past meeting my present thing on FB. Also, why are the people who made my life a living hell in high school wanting to be friends with me 20 years later? I am still deeply hurt by some of the things they did to me AND I daydream of revenge that will never happen because this was 20+ years ago and OMG therapy so did not work.

OH and this weekend, I went to my hometown to see my parents and spend time with them. I didn't have plans to see anyone while I was there, but last night I decided to call one of my best friends and another former friend to have a quick dinner. Word got out via FB, photos and all and the comments began pouring in about why I didn't invite them out and blaaaaaaaah.

I have mixed FB feelings and clearly I have some harbored resentments that may never be resolved. I don't think we were meant to interact with people from THAT many years ago. It really is weird.

Paul from San Diego said...

With awkward friend request I personally would go ahead and accept it. You can then just quietly de-friend that person.

ashley said...

Facebook scares me. I know I'm young and should be tech savvy given the generation I'm in, but I kid not, all the vampires, beer, and poking. It just weirds me out.

Coco said...

I'm completely addicted to Facebook in a way I never was with MySpace. I compare it to the love I had for bad-boy Doug in 7th grade history, to the passion I felt for my college boyfriend. A whole new level of obsession.

Now I have a secret urge to run (scroll?) over there and quick fast add you as a friend. See? It's a sickness.

Anonymous said...

What about the broken heart icon that Facebook uses when people are listed as "no longer in a relationship"? That's almost as bad/good as having a wah-wah horn as Trixie suggested. I've never had that happen, as I always list no relationship status, but that can't be fun when that Facebook relationship comes to an end. Besides, since some sensible adults remain as friends after a romantic relationship ends, what is up with that broken heart icon? Ack, as Cathy would say.

Maureen

Rachel said...

almost every day i think about dropping facebook. then another friend "finds" me, we exchange giddy emails....but after a few back and forths, its hard to find things to talk about b/c they havent been in your life for 15 years, so you dont email for a while then feel guilty....then dont email for months.

i mean, people are in your past and thats fine....to me its really hard to find time for them in my life now. its a weird place in space.

*contemplates dropping facebook again*

Jon Hunt said...

Don't drop facebook, Rachel!! Your friends are okay with occasional contact!

belsum said...

OK so I was inspired to log in to MySpace last night for the first time in nearly 2 months. It's amazing how many Facebook-type things they're adding. Desperately trying to keep the cachet they've already lost.

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

I accept people only to delete them later. I am narcissistic and sadistic like that.

Anonymous said...

I liked your comment about half of your "friends" on FB are in high school. I have a friend who is in her 50s and now is so totally caught up with FB that we never correspond any more--and guess what? She freely admits that none of her new "friends" is older than 16. I don't know -- feels snarky to me. Also, "loved" people I went to high school with back in the 60s and have never had anything to do with since graduation wanting to "friend" me on FB. Not one of them wanted to know what I've done with my life -- the ones who were interested enough to inquire just wanted to know what I look like now. Oh, and then there's the hs classmate who gets a buzz out of finding out who's died. In his last message to me before I blocked him, he wrote, "I found another one!" with so much glee that I started praying fervently that he dies before I do. Oh, yes, how endearing is it to have people want to "friend" you who would never talk to you otherwise simply because they're competing to have the most "friends" on FB. What a joy.