My relationship with FB began with an initial addictive phase, kind of like getting your alumni magazine and looking up your class news—what are all those people I haven’t kept in touch with doing these days?
I, myself, never send in class updates. This is because for most of my life I hadn’t really “done” anything. And then, when I finally reached a point of my life where I had done one or two things, I felt like notifying people I hadn’t kept in touch with would be in rather bad taste--on par with the writers of The Obnoxious Annual Christmas Card.
Then followed a phase of relative disenchantment. After overcoming my initial hesitation about being in The Book, due to the fact that I’m not currently enrolled in high school or college, there came a period when The Book was discovered by many more people....
The inflation/devaluation of “friendship”
Not being a particularly socially-needy person, and someone who, throughout her life, has viewed friendship in terms of quality rather than quantity—many second-degree friend requests surprised me. If you have more than 400 Facebook “friends,” there is word for you: friendwhore.
One of my friends, who hesitated to join FB, used the following rationale—if you are my friend, chances are I’m already in touch with you. She’s right, but she's missing something.
The good? There are people in our lives that we have lost touch with, have interacted with on a limited basis or “second-degree” friends--with whom we may have a personal connection. We may not have the time or energy to call or email these people, but it’s nice to be able to keep in touch on a limited basis—thus the success of the Facebook portal approach and 140-word status update.
The bad? FB offers so many new opportunities for social awkwardness. My two FB etiquette moments and personal lows are
1) The friend request from somebody who not only WASN’T a friend in high school, but was really obnoxious and belittling back then, but now wants to sell you their investment “opportunities.”
2) Getting a friend request from somebody you considered a real friend, being excited about being back in touch with them, writing them and they never write back. You realize, so and so never really was your “friend” but just wants to offer you some portal into their life and up their friendwhore quotient.
Slippery slope to Twitterwhore?
Lisa Nova’s video offers a funny take on this tendency.
Now that I am dealing with many people, some of whom are not, strictly speaking my “friends,” won’t inundating them with the inane details of my daily life only confirm what I always suspected—that X (from high school or my circle of acquaintances) really does think I am a loser? And, shouldn’t I be above caring what X thinks of me in the first place?
The FB updates I see tend to fall in these broad categories (feel free to suggest more in comments): navel gazing, “Mom,” industry/field of interest updates, and Don’t you wish you were me/I have 140 words to convince you that a crumb of my daily life is more interesting than your entire existence.
I thought about my own updates and decided they tend to fall in the Mom and navel-gazing category—most likely because 1) I am psychologically predisposed toward navel-gazing 2) my “Mom” existence currently prevents me from doing much more than navel gazing.
Don’t You Wish You Were Me!!!
This category tends to comprise the majority of FB offenders. Now I cannot compete with Pretentious Git, who “is in Bali hanging with Bill (Gates) and Timothy (Geithner) solving the global financial crisis.” On the other hand, ZenMom, who “is enjoying a transcendent moment of motherhood” might particularly grate on my inadequacies/insecurities, since my particular experience of motherhood at that moment might be Nathalie Mason-Fleury “is up to her elbows in shite.”
Has moved beyond categorical statements
More recently, I simply appreciate Facebook for what it is—as much or little as you make it, superficiality, inanities, second-degree friends and all. Yesterday, I was scrolling through the “News” section and smiled to see that many of the people in Atlanta were writing about a thunderstorm. Now I’m Atlanta born and bred. There have been spring thunderstorms in Atlanta for as long as I can remember. There was something comforting about reading homey details such as “is happy that the storm has not delayed their flight” (yet…) or “is planning to celebrate the storm with New York strips and a bottle of Shiraz” As long as it doesn’t cause a power outage, there is nothing I love so much as a good gully washer. It feels like home. For a moment there, I felt connected.