Social networking sites are a double edged sword. For many reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately. I can’t decide whether I really should be spending my time doing it or not. There are lots of things that I like about them…
- I can keep track of my friends easily. For instance, I know one of my friends had a great walk with her dog last night even though I haven’t seen her since August of 2000.
- Disseminating information is really easy… almost too easy. This is how everyone came to see a picture of me and my sister with frosting all over our lips. Lickety split, it was there for all to see.
- I can find cool things to show my friends and tell them about them without ever having a conversation. For instance, I just had to post this cool free movie listing.
- I can take crazy quizzes that tell me I’m Garrison Keillor and feel like I’ve accomplished some thing.
But, I have to admit that they are also a huge pain in my butt. I waste a lot of time on them. I rationalize that I’m “just checking Facebook” before I do the dishes, put the chickens in for the night, get Clara up from her nap, pick up toys, or spend time with anyone in real life. I get sucked into taking quizzes and posting how I’m feeling or what I’m doing.
I have “friends” who I haven’t seen or talked to in 15 years (some of them) from as far away as Australia, Croatia, Sweden, Germany. I’m not really “friends” with these people anymore. I like them, they’re great people, but in all reality, I’m probably never going to see them again. Not to mention the whole issue of “friends.” A friend used to be someone who you spent time with, ate food with, hung out with, had things in common with. Now a friend is better described as someone who you’ve met a least once, who has your email address, may know others who know you, and wants to be a voyeur in your life via the internet. I know that I am guilty of this. I “spy” on my “friends” who I haven’t seen in years just to see what they are up to and get some gossip to share with others who vaguely know them.
The other problem with “friends” is when you no longer want to be friends with someone. Do you just delete them and not look back? How do you decide? What if they notice? The worst case scenario here is when someone deletes you and you’re pissed about it. You weren’t expecting it and you suddenly feel like you’re back in high school and your group of buddies has just ostracized you because your shoes aren’t cool enough and you said the wrong thing. I hate that feeling of regression, of thinking about why I’m not good enough even though in my grown-up mind, I know that it doesn’t matter and I shouldn’t care.
But I’m not going to give up my Facebook account. I like it too much. I’m addicted to knowing about everyone at all times. And feeling connected to everyone possible at all times. That’s really what its all about. Feeling like you’re really linked to humanity… not just sitting alone in your house at the computer.