Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Facebook Fenomenon (Part 2)

It certainly hasn't taken me long to become addicted to Facebook. Almost immediately after I joined, a few friends (people I would actually consider to be friends, not just "Friends") welcomed me, cheered me on, said it was about time, and so on. Two pointed out about getting addicted. They weren't kidding. What I'm discovering is that there are so many aspects to Facebook, from games and gadgets to the entire social networking component, that it becomes desirous to keep seeing who else is out there and what else they're doing.....right at that moment! So it's not just a large network of friends (and "Friends"), but it's also instantaneous gratification, knowing what others are doing at that moment. It's like a giant spy network in a way. And yet, isn't it all artificially crafted? Here are more of my observations (and I must give credit to my friend CC in England for her discussions with me on #s 1 and 2).

1. Facebook should be called Facade-book, because that's what it really is. The American Heritage Dictionary defines facade as (of course) the face of the building, but they also define it as "an artificial or deceptive front." People get to choose the face that they wish to reveal to people. Hence, when I can change my "is" statement (e.g., Roberto is... "drinking a cuppa tea" or "wondering what the hell people did before Facebook existed"), I'm revealing what I elect to say about myself. It stands to reason that everyone (probably) is telling the truth about themselves, but then again, why should they? If the environment invites you to reveal all or whatever you choose, then why bare your soul for the universe to see it? Why not jazz it up, or tone it down? Why not become an avatar with a new name like Anastasia Beaverhausen (oops, I think that one's taken)? And if a facade is an artificial or deceptive face, then is Facebook actually encouraging such a deception? Is online social networking really about false truths?

2. Facebook was made for voyeurs. Really. Think about it. What are you doing when you're on it? You check your own Wall for messages and update your own site. But admit it -- you're reading everyone else's personal information, the writings on other people's Walls, you're checking out what cities in the world they've visited and what books they've read and what fan clubs they belong to. But doing all this isn't what makes it voyeuristic; rather, it's the fact that people know you're reading this, and so they're whetting your appetite with a glimpse of their world. When you add something to your profile or write on someone's Wall, you've basically raised the window shade anywhere from a few inches to a foot and you're inviting people to peek at you...but not to see you completely au naturel.

3. Facebook invites your past to return, and to stick around. I started writing about this in my last posting about Facebook, but here I'll elaborate even more. Its origins were in alumni connecting, so the fact that I went to a particular high school and graduated in a particular year ties me to others who advertise this same fact. The thing is, since I haven't spoken to any of these people in so long, I really don't consider them to be part of my life anymore, let alone my friends. Then--slam!--along comes someone from the past who I hardly knew even way-back-when and now they're my "Friend." Don't misunderstand me. I think the whole thing is ingenious. But why do I find it so eerie at the same time? I suspect I can only answer this based on my personal experience. I'm not the same person I was twenty years ago. I've evolved. I continue to evolve. These parts of my past are just that, my past, not my present. And so for me this sudden unexpected reunion of sorts with these individuals both intrigues and startles me. All that said, I do wish at least one person I knew in high school (HC) would get in touch with me, because I think I found her in Facebook, and she's someone I've always wondered about...

1 comment:

Stephanie Race said...

As another facebook newbie I'm with you completely. And it's so well written that I think I have to share it with some friends. I'm enjoying the blog.