Thursday, April 30, 2009

Facebook and all that

I have been thinking about writing a post about facebook for a while, trying to formulate my thoughts in a way that doesn’t make me sound like a drooling idiot—too late!—but I guess I will just have to blunder my way through this and hope it makes a little sense.

When I joined facebook, it was at the behest of a friend and former co-worker. She had joined at the behest of yet a third friend. Neither of us did much posting, and I didn’t search out any other potential fb friends. Mostly, I just let it molder. As a matter of fact, if I wanted to check my account, I had to go back through my email to find her original invitation, because I hadn’t bothered to bookmark it. That was roughly my first 6 months on facebook.

Later I discovered that Yoda (formerly known as WesTexGirl, not yet known as a symbol), with whom I’ve been friends since the 6th grade, was also on facebook, so I friended her. I friended my husband, who is probably more the original target demographic since his friends list consisted mostly of friends from his grad school days. I got most of my fb friends after that through one of them.

I’ve been very reticent about embracing facebook: I don’t have my maiden name posted, I don’t look for new fb friends, I don’t use the suggested friend function, I don’t use many of the applications. For one thing, I don’t need another time suck. For another, I don’t see the point of a lot of it. Don’t get me wrong: I liked people I went to school with (or worked with), and they liked me, but it was a vanillla-ice-cream kind of liking. No one actively hates vanilla ice cream. But I can’t see devoting a lot of my time to a big bowl of virtual vanilla ice cream.

I have tried to limit my friends list to the chocolate-covered coffee beans—and if you are reading this, you are a dark-chocolate-covered espresso bean!—but the occasional scoop of vanilla has snuck in. The people who are vanilla ice cream to me might be baked Alaska to someone else, but I don’t know them well enough to be aware of that. And they probably don’t know that I am Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream. I am loathe even here, in the sanctuary of my own personal blog, to let my freak flag fly, so you can image how much blander I am over there. I really am vanilla ice cream on facebook.

Once you are stuck in the sugar-cone of facebook, it is really hard to break free from the unending banality of "here’s a picture of my cat" and "I had soup for dinner". (Of course, you could say that about 99% of the non-political content on the internet in general.) There have been times when I have wanted to ask more questions of people I have re-friended on there, but I would feel like a tool bringing stuff up after weeks and months of being friended and years of being not-friended. Maybe I am just overthinking things.

The last point was brought home to me by a message I got from someone I had been close with all the time I was growing up in West Texas, but who I had let drift away in the intervening years. We became fb friends, but I felt awkward and didn’t know how to get past the vanilla-ice-cream stage, so I just let it stay that way. She showed me that she is a Frappuccino by making the first move. I really hope that we can reconnect, although I can’t imagine doing it through facebook alone. But I will say that for the Frappuccinos who are brave enough to take the first step (obviously not me), facebook can at least provide you with a place in which to take it.


Yoda said...

I totally get this.

More than you could tell by watching the activity on my account. ;)

redfox1218 said...

funny thing is my first 6 months on FB were the same as yours. And my friend list is still only at 39 (although I had to go actually check and I was shocked when I saw it said 39). I don't understand the people who have like 300 FB friends. I mean really? Do you really have zero discernement for who you share your info with?

Anyway, I totally understand the vanilla ice cream friend thing. It's like, "you know you were nice in highschool, but I really don't want to share with you now 15 years out." basically I just ignore those friend requests. I figure, I didn't care enough to stay in touch then, I don't now.