Friday, October 24, 2008

Superficial

So, I finally joined Facebook. It's probably another distraction I don't need, but it's interesting to poke around and see who's on and who isn't. I certainly haven't figured it all out yet.

It's funny – I bumped into someone at the grocery store a while back, and he said if I was on Facebook I should look him up. So when I joined, I did look him up and sent him a friend invitation. But instead of friending me, he sent me a friendly message. That's OK by me. We were never close, to say the least, and I had wrestled with whether to send an invite in the first place. I guess our mutual noncommittal is fine with both of us. Our ties are superficial.

And so is so much of what we do on these social networking sites. Like this blog. Like Facebook. I've met a good number of people in the flesh after having met online. I really hit it off with a couple of them, definitely not with others, and then there's the third category of people that, well, we did fine together, but that's probably as deep as it will ever get unless we spend more time together.

But for the most part, I keep this blog superficial. I write about candy and walks in the woods, and I whine about school. Those are fine, benign aspects of my life that make up the big Me. I consider laying it bare sometimes, the good and the ugly. But negative comments (you know who you are; knock it off) have recently made me want to keep it to the inconsequential.

When I see a guy's MySpace page, and he has more than 30,000 friends (seriously, I just saw this yesterday) who leave such pithy and perceptive comments as "Thanks for the add! You rock!" I have to wonder precisely what the draw is. But it's there. I visited his page, too, after all.

What are we really doing online? That I could feel so involved with someone else's life, someone I've never met and probably never will, someone whose life I seem to know better than the old couple next door, better than some of my family – should I?

It's fun to read about ordinary people and their ordinary lives and their ordinary ups and downs. And it's quite pleasing to check in on them and have them check in on me. I like it.

So even though I don't say much that matters, I suppose I'll keep saying it. And I'll see some of you around.

6 comments:

Lola said...

My feelings exactly. Facebook was very interesting to start with, and I managed to connect with some people who were close friends a long time ago, and it's nice to be back in touch, however superficially. Nowadays I rarely go to Facebook.

Actually, I would like to go deeper into feelings in my blog, but my parents are my biggest fans and I don't want to lay my soul bare for them. One day maybe I'll create a new, proper anonymous identity so I can write more truthfully about some of the questions that bother me.

laurie said...

sure, facebook's superficial.

on the other hand, it is a powerful tool. let's see.... i've tracked down people i worked with years ago and "friended" them so that i could interview them for hack.

i have communicated with book reviewers who never bothered to give me their email address.

i've conducted entire interviews via facebook messaging, with people who are constantly traveling and don't always check email.

i have found out things about my family (which i don't want to go into here) by reading clues left on a niece's facebook page, and i found out that someone i knew years ago left her job yesterday because she posted a note on her home page.

it's good for tracking people down; for keeping in touch with far-flung acquaintances, as well as high-school and college age family members.

forget the whole "how many friends do you have" shit; you're right; that's high school and stupid.

but don't write off facebook. the more you use it, the more you'll find that it's not about throwing goats at people and racking up the friends; it's a very powerful tool for journalists, and probably for anyone who relies on connections to get their job done.

laurie said...

ps the only reason i joined is because of work.

it's been mildly fun, too, for other reasons. but i woudl't have bothered had it not been useful for my job.

Amy said...

Lola, if you created a secret blog, would you want anyone to read it?

I mostly joined because of school. My class uses Facebook to communicate a lot. Now I need to actually go and find those people. But I also joined because people are constantly asking about it or talking about it and I wondered what the deal was.

As far as the superficiality of it all, I have mixed feelings. I'm OK with it because I don't really want the whole world knowing my inner thoughts. At the same time, it seems a little silly to post piffle.

That said, blogs aren't always piffle, and when they are, it's often kind of fun.

So, in essence, this post has no point, which only proves my point, if I only knew what that was.

Lola said...

I would want to have readers, the requirement is only that I am totally anonymous, i.e. no family or friends. My husband's business is currently going down the toilet, and I crave the freedom to write about it, how I feel, how he feels, my part in his downfall, so to speak. Not possible.

lisa said...

I like online friends because it all happens when I feel like reading/writing. If you don't like what they have to say you click them away. You have a chance to edit your thoughts. It's a selfish, it's quiet, it's mostly on your terms. I still don't get Facebook. Once you agree to be friends then they all get to see what you wrote and what others wrote to you. Why is that a good thing?