Monday, June 1, 2009

A Thin Line Between Love & Hate: My Complicated Relationship with Facebook

I recently had to join Facebook because of my job. Until my boss informed me that I needed to join, I had adamantly resisted. Although I may be deluded in some portions of my life, one thing that I understand about myself is that my life is not interesting enough to have regular updates (I don't Twitter for the same reason). Consequently, when I first started using Facebook, I was amazed at how many people say what's on their mind on a very regular basis. This site (and other social networking sites) also presents issues regarding how I (or anyone really) is perceived. Horror stories, such as this article, have made me more than a little cautious (this is also why I try not to put any identifying info on this blog).

On the positive side, I can certainly see the benefits of Facebook. It makes networking much, much easier, and if I ever get the desire to find a guy I had a crush on in high school, it is ridiculously easy. It also allows you to ask a lot of people a general question or to connect (or reconnect) for business or pleasure. All that said, I've been on for approximately 2 weeks, and I have come up with a few more ambiguous thoughts and reactions to Facebook:
  1. Strangers with candy: I've been very surprised by the people who have "friended" me on Facebook. While I have connected with some people I like, I honestly don't know some of my Facebook friends all that well (some are acquaintances or perhaps friends of acquaintances). I suppose that having a lot of friends on Facebook is a status symbol for some people, thus leading them to "friend" anyone who they may vaguely know.
  2. High school was a long time ago: Another issue with "friending" people is finding people I want to friend. I have searched for a few people who I went to high school with, but I have always freaked out and closed the window before I ask for a friend request. Part of this is from the realization that I probably have nothing in common with these people - most of them are married and have children (even though high school was only 11 years ago). The other reason I have is that I don't feel any sort of pressing need to reconnect with my high school friends. I've kept up with the ones I was closest to; the others were nice enough, but I don't want to know every time they get a dog or they pick their children up from school. I am also certain that they don't want to hear about my (non) progress on my dissertation.
  3. I do not remember any of my undergraduate classmates: Even though I spent four years with some of these people (and my school wasn't that big), I honestly cannot recall anyone I would want to "friend." After being inundated by pop culture on how the undergraduate experience is a magical and seminal time in people's lives, this realization makes me a little sad.
  4. Time is not on my side (but it is on other people's): A brief glance at my Facebook page reveals the numerous ways my friends (or "friends") spend their time. Besides the updates to what is on their minds, some of them seem to spend a lot of time on quizzes. Facebook apparently has a quiz for everything. I don't particularly care what color my aura is, nor do I stay awake at night wondering how my friends voted in the toilet paper poll. I'm not judging how people opt to spend their time, but I can't help but think that Facebook could easily before a black hole for time, sucking up seconds, minutes, hours, and days.
Since it is for work, I am going to stay on Facebook. Perhaps I will even grow to like it a bit more. For now, I choose to remain apathetic.