Thursday, January 15, 2009

Everyone Else Is Doing It

Web comic by xkcd. Click to enlarge.

I had a weird dream last night. I was back in the third grade and my two BFFs and I had jacked a car and were riding around laughing our asses off. In my groggy waking moments I had to remind myself that we sweet little girls never did any such thing.

But we always had fun, and although I stayed close to one friend, the other one moved away and never wrote. Every once in a while I try to google her, but apparently she shares a name with one of the characters from the Harry Potter series. I'll never find her in the 1500 search results.

Anyway, so I'm awake, fed and watered, and go about checking the news. An article on Slate immediately taunts me with You Have No Friends. Damn! The world (or at least one web magazine and three friends) have conspired to nag me relentlessly until I join Facebook! And that dream I had? That could only be a psychic message from my third grade pal. Maybe she is looking for me too? And she can't find me on Facebook and doesn't know what else to do?

But I've been so skeptical about Facebook. I've been around these Internets for a long time now, and I know about social networking. See, before anybody marketed "social networking," you were simply called a "freak" for using the computer to meet people.

But those days are over, and I'm no longer ashamed. Let me list my travails. I've been recruited to join MySpace, and spammed to join Friendster. I was on Friend Finder, Six Degrees, Classmates and The Globe. You don't know about The Globe? It must have been before your time. But let me tell you the most important part -- it failed.

Yes, there seems to be a distinct life-cycle of social networking sites:
  • A group of young geeks, over Christmas break, put some brains and resources together to build a new social networking site -- probably with a new gimmick or look.
  • Everybody in their computer science department joins.
  • A new feature is added that allows you to recruit your friends -- or everybody in your address book -- with a single click. They join too. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  • Then comes the awkward stage. It's awkward because nobody really knows how to deal with unwanted friend requests and "defriending."
  • More features are added by request -- allowing users to make their personal pages blink, dance, play music and induce seizures.
  • Advertisements are added.
  • The site starts to feel confusing, less useful, and you begin to ask yourself "who are these people?"
  • Your grandma joins.
  • Everybody flocks to a new and cooler site. Repeat from the top.
So what's it to me? I've been called a nerd, an introvert, elitist and a crank, but I can't stand that blank look people give me when I say I don't have a Facebook account. I surrender. I joined Facebook. I will rebuild my network of "friends" in this new promised land. But when it's time to go, will I follow the other sheep peacefully? Maybe not...

Oh, but what about my third grade pal? In all my pondering, I almost forgot to look for her! Yes, her name turns up a few dozen hits and two of them are definite possibilities. But now I'm full of doubt. We probably have nothing in common and maybe she'll even think I'm weird. What if neither of these women were my long lost classmate? Then two total strangers will think I'm weird. I thought I left this drama and insecurity behind in high school? Looks like I just signed on for more.

However, no friend, ex-friend, lover or foe can ever say they can't find me! They can call me, text me, e-mail me, tweet me, IM me, and yes, even my doorbell still works!


Trung said...

what's the big deal about facebook? i always hear about it and actually had an account once, but it didn't impress one single iota which is why i deleted my account. btw, who is the jerk who told you to join myspace? ;)

People in the Sun said...

My Honey is there. She moved there from MySpace. She used to have a ClassMates account.

Well, at least she can't say anything about my blog.

Kristen said...

Ahem. Trung? About three years ago you were the most devoted MySpace fan I've ever known.

People in the Sun, the one service I'm really glad I found last year is StumbleUpon. I think that's where I stumbled into you and your blog. Somehow, I find more benefit in SU than a lot of other sites.

After one day on Facebook, the only really cool thing is the Scrabble application. I haven't played the game in a couple of years, but all those two letter words are coming back to me.

Teala said...

I Love Facebook, I have reconnected with a lot of old friends and classmates from all three schools. :0