I’m on vacation this week, so thought it would be fun to get input on my search from the people witnessing it first hand. Here, my BFF Sara contemplates the merits of the most modern form of friending: Facebook.
The best way to begin this post is by saying that Rachel is one of the only people in the world I would ever agree to “guest blog” for. I’m not on Facebook, I stopped using AIM circa 1996 when the away message took hold. I’ve abstained from most forms of social media, partially because their public nature scares me. So blogging is just about the last thing I’d do on my own. But for Rachel, I would do anything—she is, after all, my oldest BFF.
[For regular readers – I’m Sara – I let Rachel smush my chubby 9-year- old-cheeks, brought her clean clothes when her father was in the hospital, sent her flowers for her book deal, and, yes, I don’t always return calls promptly (although I think we’re on a good streak!).]
As for Facebook, it’s not that I think Facebook is evil, it’s just not for me… or, so far it hasn’t been for me. The truth is I’m conflicted. So I figured I’d take this “chance” (read, semi-obligatory BFF favor) to publicly deliberate my non-Facebook status.
Why I’m not on “The Good Book” (as a dear friend and late FB adopter referred to it today, while we were having a lovely, face-to-face, lunch)…
1. I wouldn’t use it… a lot. Confession, right off the bat – I don’t have an account, but I do have access, thanks to a couple BFFs who have granted me permission to log on via their accounts whenever I need to do some “social research” or just when the mood strikes. But the mood doesn’t strike that often.
2. I might use it… a lot. Current users’ #1 complaint – time suckage. In the little-to-zero time I have free these days, I’d rather spend it on actual face time with friends. But I know how easy it is look up from a friend-of-a-friend’s hot brother’s crazy co-worker’s wedding photos and realize it’s 3 hrs later.
3. I’m self-conscious. I dread the performative aspect of it. I resent the demand to represent yourself, your social life, your hipness through lists of your favorite movies (or clever stand-ins for these lists), witty status updates, collection of friends, and, of course, photographic evidence of your awesome life. I don’t want to obsess over these details until I’m certain they capture me accurately, and favorably. And I’d rather not be tempted to compare my life to the awesomeness captured in other people’s photos. My life is great, but I don’t know if it photographs well, and I never take pictures.
4. I don’t want to be found. I don’t want to field friend requests and messages from people with whom I’m perfectly happy to have lost touch. Given that I’m bad enough at returning calls and emails from people I love dearly, chances are I won’t respond, but I’ll feel really really guilty about it!
5. Now, it’s kind of a self-image thing. I had a boyfriend once tell me that when his mom found out I wasn’t on Facebook she liked me more. I kind of like myself more for it too. Especially when everyone else and their mom is on it (said mom included), it feels somewhat rare. If I did have a FB page, it might be something I’d include in the “about me.”
Why I might cave…
1. I do feel left out. Everyone and their mom is on it, especially everyone my age (my Sr. year of college was it’s very first year). So much of my friends’ collective references occur on FB. I miss the punchlines in person. Party invitations happen on Facebook. I just assume I wasn’t invited.
2. When face time is not an option. Obviously I wouldn’t mind knowing more about what’s going on in the lives of my friends who are far away (or a borough away). Especially since we’ve established my direct upkeep with them is not the best.
3. We’re all voyeurs, even if we’re not all exhibitionists. I could look at photos of interesting strangers for hours, even if I wouldn’t post my own.
4. Anthropological/sociological research. You can learn a lot by looking at photos of interesting strangers, not to mention actual acquaintances. Plus, since Facebook’s userbase would apparently make it the 5th most populist country in the world, I sort of have to do it to understand my own culture, right? The American Studies major in me thinks so.
5. I know, I know, it’s what you make of it. I get it, your profile can be as slim as you want it to be, your status can remain blank, privacy settings can even make you invisible, filters can kill information overload.
So can anyone sway me one way or the other? What made you first join? Total satisfaction? Frustrations? Any other remaining holdouts like me?