Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Social Networking

My MySpace page never amounted to anything. I thought I’d be really cool and put a Beyoncé song on there so people would know how hip I was, but after a few days, I noticed an alert on my site that said: “Song removed by artist.” How did Beyoncé know that I had her song on there? I never could quite figure that out and I was terrified that I had broken some copyright law much less angered Beyoncé. So, I stayed off of MySpace and vowed never to join the social networking world again.

Until a friend turned me on to Facebook. This, to me, seems like a very user-friendly, very safe place to social network. Hey—even my Mom’s on there! I have reconnected with about a third of my high-school graduating class (hi, girls!), a bunch of people I used to work with (remember those crazy annual business plans? Good times…), my old neighbors (remember that time when…you don’t…well, ok). It’s a great way to advertise when your latest book comes out and a good way to stay in touch with people far and near.

There are just a few problems with the social networking idea, though: getting “friend” requests from people you don’t know, and never hearing back from people to whom you yourself have sent a “friend” request. Awkward on both accounts. I’m assuming that those people who send you friend requests—and whom you’ve never met—have found you on one of your other friend’s lists and thinks that because you have one common friend, the two of you will have stuff in common. And that you’ll be interested in reading their status updates. Or, that they are trying to amass as many friends as possible so that they have a robust list. I’m not sure. I only “friend” people I knew or know now, which is why I don’t understand when they don’t “friend” me back. Maybe they just don’t like? Hard to tell.

One thing’s for sure: this is the most like a high school student I’ve felt in about thirty years. That’s one problem. (Or two, technically, I suppose.) The second is that I’m a little obsessed with Facebook. I now have another time-wasting site to visit, going back to last week’s theme of procrastination. I have plenty of work to keep me busy and technically, I should be a little further along on book 5. But I find the status updates from friends scintillating and worthy of my time. Tell me, though: do I really need to check it so obsessively every day to find out who had a pastrami on rye for lunch? Or who has decided to leave work early? Or who is on their second gin and tonic (and it’s only three o’clock in the afternoon)? Probably not. I was living a full life before Facebook not knowing these little tidbits. Now I’m loathe to miss even one update.

The latest craze on Facebook is to post twenty-five things about yourself. These lists take many forms and have many different kinds of entries from the banal (“I don’t like onions”) to the poignant (“I wish I were a better friend to x or x”). I’ve been “tagged”—asked to contribute my own list of twenty-five things—but I feel like if I need to share that many things about myself, I’ll get my husband liquored up and make him listen to me drone on about the things I don’t think he knows about me. (And trust me—he knows everything there is to know, hence, the liquored up part.)

Thanks to fellow Stiletto Gang member Susan McBride, I no longer check my Amazon number, read reviews of my books online, or Google myself. Should we add Facebook to the list? Should I limit myself to one viewing in the morning and/or one at night? Or should I go off completely?

I have a friend who just took the drastic step of going through her friend list and “un-friending” anyone with whom she was just not a true friend. This meant the guy who used to work in marketing at our old company, or the hair dresser she had when she lived across the country, and a few other people who my friend reflected on, coming to the conclusion that they just weren’t very nice to her when they lived/worked/or went to school together. I thought this was truly radical but not a step I’m willing to take right now.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will wait with baited breath to read whether or not you got your car’s oil changed, or got that promotion, or read the latest book in the “Twilight” series. I, in the interest of a reciprocal friendship, will let you know how I did on Weight Watchers this week, or what my favorite “King of Queens” episode is.

That’s what (virtual) friends are for, right?



  1. Well, you know I can go on and on about society and technology!

    But, I'll just skip that and add a thing a Facebook user told me last year: sometimes people go hog-wild (as opposed to "giraffe-wild"?) with "friends" there as a sort of competition to see who can amass the highest number.

    Enjoy whatever you do with it.

  2. I like Facebook and recently became friends with four of my adult grandchildren--and I just know they are thrilled to have me leave them messages on their wall. (Probably not, but I do.)

    Twitter is also fun and my tweets also appear on my website.