Thursday, January 7, 2010

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Hello. My name is Chris and I am addicted to Facebook.

Not as badly as I was at first, mind you, but I still waste enough hours on the social networking site to be a wee bit embarrassed about it. The thrill in the beginning is all the new "friends" you find. Everyone wants to invite you to the virtual party and you feel like the belle of the ball with all the waiting invitations out there.

Look! A friend from grade school! Oh joy, a former colleague! What ho - an ex-boyfriend! Everyone so eager to reconnect after years, possibly decades, apart.

I don't deny that Facebook has helped me track down and chat up friends with whom I have lost touch for one reason or another. It has actually strengthened family ties as well, as my long list of cousins and I can now keep track of one another and comment on each other's daily musings.

The seedy side of Facebook, however, out there. I have "friended" old friends only to realize why we weren't Honest-to-God real life friends anymore. Some have a propensity towards political views and religious opinions as their status updates. Since this is a "social" networking site and religion and politics are topics I was taught to avoid in polite company, I don't get these folks. I have "unfriended" more than one person because their rhetoric was offensive or just plain annoying. However, if you post something on Facebook - just like any other public forum - you had better be ready to back it up or defend it. It is out there for public consumption and debate.

Then there is the "to friend or not to friend" question. Also commonly referred to as the "friend or ignore" query. Do you ignore a request from someone you volunteer with? Surely they will notice and take offense. How about the college roommate who drove you nuts (not you, Feeb)? And what of the ex who left you emotionally wasted for months and now wants to be "friends." (Note: this situation is so aptly synthesized in this song on youtube. Another note, that link would be NOT safe for work.)

Sometimes you accept their friendship out of curiosity. Other times because it is a social or work obligation (this is what "Lists' are for, people. Use them!). Other times, "ignore" just feels good. I ignored my grade school nemesis and in my ignore message, sent her a personal note something along the lines of "are you f-ing kidding me?" (Thank you, Kate Mill-Heidke.)

Despite the pitfalls, I am still a Facebook addict. I tend to have very funny friends and their status updates alone are worth the price of admission. Add to that their comments and photos and I rarely log on without being thoroughly and genuinely amused by at least one of you fine folks. I follow their blogs and they follow mine and we generally have a high old time having virtual coffee and kibbutzing about the rest of you who, sadly, we have likely "ignored." :)


Beth said...

I've unfriended many people. After the curiosity was over (and secretly seeing they still are immature and that I'm better off with out them in my life). I've never had a one say "hey you unfriended me." Most of the time they have a million other friends so what is one less.

smarmygal said...

Amen, Beth. The people I have unfriended either didn't notice or didn't care. i did have one friend who noticed she had one less friend one day and went on a mission to find out who had unfriended her. I fear for that person :)