Monday, August 31, 2009

The freakishness of Facebook

My oldest child started school today--Kindergarten orientation actually. And our first "official" day of homeschooling starts tomorrow. I'll do a post, with pictures, about all that stuff soon. But for now, I'm blogging about the truly important things in life. Like Facebook.

While it's fun keeping up with friends and reconnecting, some (most?) of my fascination with this particular form of social networking stems from the social awkwardnesses that tend to arise. Like...what do you do if you don't want to be someone's friend? Do you click "confirm" anyway, throw tact to the wind and click "ignore", or take the coward's way out and just let it sit in your "friend request" section because you can't bring yourself to ignore someone, even if it's just in cyberspace?

I'm fascinated too by the people from the past who come out of the woodwork to add you. People you went to high school with but literally.never.spoke.to. Weird.

OR the people you used to know who clearly are NOT adding you, even though they're aware of your Facebook presence. That's kinda weird too.

Throw in the awkward comments that people (oftentimes men, as I've observed on my husband's page a time or two) make when they're reconnecting with you after years of no contact.

Yes indeed, Facebook is a strange place. I have to admit there is something a little unnerving for this introvert about allowing all manner of people a glimpse into my life. And my husband's life. And our kids' lives. Especially people from the distant past.

And yet, I have a blog. Somehow that feels different. I like that you read it, and that we can stay in touch. I'm aware that lots of people lurk and anyone could be reading. Even the awkward Facebookers. But yeah, it's just different.

How about you? Are you fascinated by Facebook? Does your inner social psychologist enjoy analyzing the awkwardness and assorted dynamics at play? Have you had some strange experiences? Let's hear about it!

(On a side-note, I love when people add me on Facebook. I promise. If we're Facebook friends, I'm happy that we are. If we're not, feel free to add me and I'll do my best to hit "confirm"!)

21 comments:

Tamara said...

I SOOO know what you mean! Just yesterday I had some random person (won't name names) add me. I vaugely recognized the name, did NOT recognize the face (but I have never been good with that anyway, I once had to try to ID a guy in a line up... they were all old and I had thought the guy was in his thirties)

Anyway, I saw that he had like 700 friends (maybe other people who felt bad for not remembering him and guilt-added him?) so I clicked--DENIED.
I am still guilt-ridden, but try to console myself with the fact that I want to keep my random postings among friends (my tractor-lusting will not be understood by outsiders!!)

Calico Sky said...

LOL I still don't have facebook, and this is just one of the reasons. I figure if I really wanted to be in touch with someone I would via email, phone etc, so I don't need an avenue for those I don't want in my life to be in my life. LOL Honestly as a teen I was a social butterfly but as I hit the 20's I just wanted the quiet life!
Good luck with starting home schooling! That's great :)

Mama Mote said...

Facebook is my friend...I have over 700 (old school friends, Sounds of Grace, students from the past - was youth advisor for 18 years, current friends, etc.). OK...I am ridiculous. I started out mainly to keep in touch with the girls and their friends and, yes, people kept adding me and I was adding them. Then some old friends I had lost touch with added me and it just kept going. Of course, some of my list includes groups and "fan of" pages and spouses. It has been addicting and I need to get a job if just to get me off once in awhile. :)

Sharla said...

I am a bit weirded out by the Facebook thing too. It's funny because I hardly add any pictures to my Facebook and always feel nervous adding pictures there and yet my blog is full of pictures and I never think twice about that. On Facebook, in theory, I know all the people who would see the pictures (except if one of my "friends" comments on a photo and then all their "friends" can see that and all the other photos in that on-line album) and yet I know that my blog has lots of lurkers who I don't know. very strange that I feel this way but glad to know that I am not the only one a little bit creeped out by Facebook.

Mike and Rachel said...

I don't mind adding girls that I wasn't that great of friends with, but I am more selective on guys. I don't want friendships with guys emerging that could undermine my relationship with Mike in anyway. As with all technology, my inbox and profile are readily available for Mike and he has full access and veto power.

I'm definitely phasing out my blog. I don't want a public avenue for people to gather info on my kids when they are going to be at public school away from me all day. It suddenly creeps me out.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Facebook is a narcissist's way of showing the world just "how popular" they really are. NOBODY can personally know 700 people - these aren't friends, just very, very casual acquaintances (if that!).

When someone adds me on their Facebook and I see their "friend list" is uber extensive, this is a good indication that I will just be a number in their "need" for affirmation and popularity...Honestly, it makes me gag...

Joanie said...

Facebook?!? Don't get me started. I've heard of its potential to minister, to reconect, etc, but facebook in my world is awkward and weird, and just plain out - oh, I wish it would go away really.

Facebook vs. blogging just seems to highlight the shallow vs. the deep, except in the case of some of our church friends. They are deep and wonderful! But most of the facebook stuff I see only serves to confirm my suspicion that such and such really is as self-absorbed as I thought!

Thank you, Brianna for the soapbox platform. I've been wanting to get that off my chest for a while now, and I'm just too chicken to do it on my own blog.

Jeannett Gibson said...

I'm a brat about FB. I don't understand why people would ask to be my "friend" when in real life, I never spoke to you. Look, I wasn't your friend in high school, what makes you think I would suddenly want to be your cyber friend now? I have no problem hitting ignore. Although I think someone told me that they don't get any kind of message telling them they were ignored...so it's the same as just letting them sit in there.

And I TOTALLY agree about the blog vs. FB thing. I don't know why...I guess the blog thing seems less "high school-esque" to me. It's actually a lot more intimate than FB. I guess I figure that if you really care to know what's going on with me, you'll read my blog and take the five minutes to read. But then again, I've always been really bad about casual conversation...I much prefer to sit and have coffee with you for an hour than to do the whole "how are yous" of five minutes. But then again, I'm kinda weird.

Kristen said...

I have to agree with "anonymous." I just don't understand the need to keep tabs on literally hundreds of people! It is an odd concept to me. It was the same feeling when i had a myspace account - i wouldn't add anyone if they had much more than 200 friends or so b/c i'd figure, what's the point?!

And all the "status updates" are what really get to me...unless you are a close friend of mine, i really don't care that little billy just had a diaper blow-out or that you just got a flat tire or that you're having cramps. (Yes someone actually posted that.) Ugh...it's things like this that make me really miss simpler, pre-internet times!!

Stacey said...

Facebook is great for semi-keeping in touch with people who are near and dear to our hearts or who have a common interest, such as Jesus:), but I have discovered it's not so good (at least in our situation) to have the birth mother of one of our sons as a "friend." I had to remove her (which I did with a bit of sadness) because I had to worry about how everything I said about our son's health could affect her emotionally. She feels like his health issues are her fault. Of course that's so not true. Anyway, I only add people who I don't mind knowing things that are going on in my life and I try not to say anything too personal:)

Kathy said...

I TOTALLY LOVE Facebook! It has been the most fun way to reconnect and stay in touch with friends and family all over the place.

I actually don't blog as much now because it's so much easier to share photos and life on facebook. I still have my blog because I don't want to end it after all these years, but I FB way more than I blog.

It is weird when people that you don't "really" know from your past (maybe you went to school together, but never talked) ask you to be their friend, but it's fun to find out what they're doing now and become "friends" as adults now.

You can add me as a facebook friend - Kathy Kasbaum Hubbard - and I won't ignore you. = - )

Meg said...

I like facebook too- a fun way to keep in touch and reconnect with people. and remember, anyone who you are wondering why they haven't added you is probably wondering why you haven't added them! as for those who you didn't really talk to in high school.....I figure people change- some may be branching out their social networks, trying to be a better person and not so "clique" oriented......I noticed at my reunion- old cliques did not exist anymore- and it changes even more at the 20 (I'm told)......so let go of who spoke to who in high school and you may just find someone who is a perfect fit in your life now......two of my closest friends today were only acquaintences in high school- we weren't mean to each other- just didn't have a lot in common then....and now we do!

Mike and Rachel said...

I wanted to add that I don't want to link by blog to my facebook feed because I am more personal there and don't want it SO public. I do have a few FB friends who I don't know in real life, but they asked to be "friends" because they "read my blog and are friends with so and so." Whatever, I am sure at some point I will purge my "friends" and make that more private too.

The Fearnsides said...

I will just admit it- I LOVE Facebook. It really jives with my introverted self. I can keep up with people I haven't seen in awhile, or no longer see on a regular basis. All of my younger cousins are on it, so it helps me connect with them too.

I hate the phone, so this is I how I keep in touch, I guess.

That said, I don't add people that are 'vague' acquaintences, or random individuals who try to friend me. And, like Rachel, I am super-selective about which guys I add. Keith has full access to my profile.

Keith, on the other hand, hates Facebook and Myspace. Can't stand it. Hates the computer in general. He figures if they are important enough he has the number or e-mail and will contact them that way.

Monica

Brianna Heldt said...

I'm LOVING reading all your comments!!!! I don't have any animosity towards Facebook at all--it's just an interesting way to observe social awkwardnesses (so it's the people, not the medium). I think it's a great way to see peoples' various boundaries (or lack thereof). I actually couldn't care less about who talked with whom in high school (didn't care then, don't care now!) I just find it interesting for example that someone who I don't think I ever had a class with or met, recently added me. (I did confirm them BTW.)

I love Facebook as a way to remain connected/in touch with people from various parts of my life--like what Robbin said. I'm also in agreement with Monica, it IS nice for inroverts.

Penny Malley said...

So funny, Brianna, i was thinking of blogging about this myself. "Great minds..."
My thought is, anything I post anywhere on the web could potentially be seen by anyone. Blog, FB, Flickr, etc. You may think it's private because you have people sign in to see them, but if creeps want to see, they'll figure out a way to see.
So... right now I'm enjoying FB. In fact, as I go about my day, sometimes I'll think to myself, "This would make a great status." Yes, I'm that much of a nerd. Seriously, though, it is like a reunion every time I log on. Half my graduating class is on there (I only had 75, so maybe it's not that impressive...) I recently re-connected with my best friend from elementary school! I could go on, but suffice it to say, in my life right now, FB fits better than a blog. (My brain only thinks in short snippets?!)

darci said...

what a funny great post! i feel so the same. I went on facebook a little while ago and then just couldn't get into it. (i'm a little betternow...) but yeah, i've added friends just to not hurt someone's feelings, i've clicked ignore, AND i've just let it sit in my request box. funny! it always seems a bit like a big clique-y school thing, you know? :) but yet at the same time, it IS really fun to connect with some people..so...i am mixed. and yes, i blog and spill some of my guts into a completely public forum, and for some reason i find that much easier!

Staci said...

I agree with you and I am a big extrovert. I get on FB every once in awhile, but I am totally a FB coward and leave people hanging with the confirm or ignore thing. I refuse to add applications that let us compare what movies we are most like etc. I tried to get into it, but really, I think I keep in touch with the people I care most about. I don't like the overuse of the word "friend." How about "aquaintance." If you want to know whats up in my life, read my blog. I think the more shallow facebookers (not all Fbers are shallow, I speak of the "friends"-who-don't-really-know-you) won't come to the blog. Only people who really care. That's what I think. I could be wrong. I think the whole thing is very awkward indeed.

Paige said...

This post really made me laugh! I totally agree, FB is such an interesting awkward place. But after reading your blog now I feel bad about ignoring people who wanted to be my friend...you gotta draw a line somewhere. But I admit, I love to peak into peoples lives with such ease. =)

Brianna Heldt said...

Paige ha! Don't feel guilty. I've done some ignoring myself. :)

The Hattons... said...

I love this post. So true!!

 

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