Thursday, January 22, 2009

Face to Facebook

So. I've been part of the facebook virtual-community for a little over six weeks now.

It all started here, where a friend referred those of us who enjoyed her blog over to the other medium. She wrote:
"I love Facebook because it doesn't take itself so seriously...It restricts your tendencies toward excess. Which I find refreshing and humbling and interesting, in the way that cryptic or aphoristic statements are always interesting."
I couldn't let that over I went, filled in the little information form, and there I was feeling like I'd just gotten my first off-campus apartment.

The facebook is a curious thing, and it has interesting effects on those who visit there. The person who got me interested is very natural there. She usually posts a nicely varied mix of updates, notes, photos and information, being entertaining while clearly entertaining herself. She's a "good facebooker".

At the other pole are the people who never use the thing - they made a page and then left it, a sort of bookmark in the aether, a lamppost in the deep woods that, once lit, shines lonely and unvisited far from the busy chatter of the rest of the facebook world. You wonder - why? Was it just Not Their Thing? Too much timesuck? Just didn't trip their trigger? What?

The one person that I thought would react that way to the application has become, instead, a sort of uberfacebooker, a facemaniac; joining groups, signining petitions, sending and receiving chickens, cows, mardi gras beads, cocktails and sushi. It's been fun, really, watching this tender comrade become more facebook than the old hand facebookers.

I have to admit that I find the FB gimmicks and gadgets silly and a little irritating, the way that once I'd become comfortable with digital commo I found the cute little gimmicks on America Online frustrating (yeah, I was one of the original Eighties AOLers - Christ, I'm older than dirt...) The little goofs are fun at first, then just something to get through, finally a minor irritation; a Dancing-Paperclip-for-the-Internet sort of thing. It's not that I object to someone sending me an imaginary drink, I just think "I could probably spend this time mixing one of these upstairs and it'd taste better..." And, frankly, the snowballs just baffle me. WTF?

On the other hand, teh Facebook can be good for a quick larf, as in in this exchange that took place today:

J is relishing the smell of monkey dung in the morning. 8:54am

First Friend at 8:58am January 22
you should probably wipe better than:)

FDChief at 9:19am January 22
Smells like...evolution?

FDChief at 9:28am January 22
Bipedal locomotion?

FDChief at 10:28am January 22
Opposable thumbs?

J at 10:31am January 22 via Facebook Mobile Texts
Chief-do some work!

FDChief at 12:44pm January 22

FDChief at 12:45pm January 22
Binocular vis...oh, sorry. I'll go do some work.

J at 1:01pm January 22
You crack me up Chief!

Second Friend at 2:50pm January 22

I think the capper for me is Second Friend coming in at the end with the classic Witty Comment On The Original Post ("Gross") after we'd already made a stand-up gag out of it. Sometimes the best funny is the guy who completely misses the gag.

Curiously enough, as I went to lunch thinking about writing this post, I open the World's Worst Newspaper and what's on the front page of the Living ("Where J-School Failures Go To Die") Section? Just 1500 words from the textually-challenged Peter Ames "What's Happening NOW!" Carlin on "Are people hiding from Life on Facebook!?", full of useless crap quotes from somebody about their opinion bout facebook. Damn, Peter, if I want to read someone babbling idiotic bullshit I'll dictate to myself, thanks.

Which means, of course, that the Facebook has had its 15 minutes and will soon go the way of AOL, populated by sad old bastards and aged grannies desperately trying to hook up with their grandkids using The Next Big Thing That Was Big Ten Years Ago.

So I guess that so far, my feeling is that FB's fine. It's not All That. I enjoy it for the e-mail and instant-messaging I can exchange with friends. But I'll pass on the snowballs and sushi, thanks. I still find that I enjoy the broader canvas of blogging and other writers for the breadth and depth of what they produce, for the thoughtful responses the more complex fora provoke in me, and provide for me. But if you just want to drop me a line, I'm around the facebook, every day, once a day or so.

Just don't come expecting to get a cyber-chicken out of me.

I don't do chickens.


Anonymous said...

:) interesting

sheerahkahn said...

Yep, 80's AOL'er myself...using a MAC of all things.
I'm so glad to have switch to PC's...they still drive me nuts, but I don't feel like I'm being raped, pillaged, sandbagged, drawn and quartered everytime I want to upgrade my system, or just tweak it a wee bit.
I have a FB as well, though the wife uses it a lot more than I do...for whatever reason I just got on it because she uses it for connecting purposes for former coworkers, and former classmates.

For the life of me I just can't see the reason why I would want to stay connected to people I bid fond farewell too from so long ago.
Anyway, I'm just babbling.
I was going to have a busy day today...but the boss cancelled the experiments, so...a surfing I will go.

You Know Where You Are With said...

My new metaphor for Facebook is the bulletin board, the collage. It's like a functioning collage of things to do, to grab in front of you. I actually use a bulletin board in my office as an "inspiration board" that collects all manner of bobs and bits of stuff that might, well, inspire me. But it is not novelistic, that's for sure. It eschews linearity.

As for the sushi, chickens, and drinks...dare I make a reference to gender and suggest that women might respond to gift exchange--even the virtual sort--and its attendant function of being social glue to a larger degree than their masculine counterparts?

mike said...

"brachiation"!!! - slow down please for us hunt-and-peck Neaderthals - I am still trying to find a definition for "meeching".

FDChief said...

Sheerah: I don't get the whole "Gee, let's look up my old high school class!" thing either unless you have an actual IRL connection with someone there. Or being all excited because it turns out that Stevie Van Zant is great at WordTwister just like you!!!

YK: Bulletin board is a goof metaphor. Thanks. And I know lots of guys who like to fiddle with little tschochkes; the part about the FB snowballs and the like is the difficulty in doing "anything" with them. They just turn up on the page, or not, and you can't collect them, or arrange them or DO anything with them, as far as I can tell. They're just "there"; you send/receive them and that's that.

mike: brachiation is a method of primate locomotion, specifically, "a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms."

Meeching (also "meatching" or "mitching"): Hiding; skulking; cowardly. [Colloq.]

We good?

FDChief said...

YK: GOOD metaphor. Good. Sorry, damn typos!!!

mike said...

Thanks Chief - Brachiation I had so we were already good on that. Meeching was my downfall. But I have been traveling to see the new grandbaby and I found that does not have the scope and substance of my favorite Mr. Webster.

Lisa said...

Doesn't do much for me, either. Only so many hours in a day, and a call or a quick email works just fine, thanks. People are becoming so amused by themselves (double entendre intended.) They put their photo albums online, their "twits" (ahem!), their locations. I do not care!

Oh, there is that transitory curiosity with the exhibitionist solipsistic people out there, but I'm burned out pretty quickly by any possible curiosity in the next store they are visiting or family member they will expound upon.

I'm not even engaged enough to replace Facebook's cowlick general purpose self-image. I guess that's the true test that it hasn't grabbed you.

This blog thing is remote enough. I know the "friends" made here are not "virtual people," yet the distance is palpable. That the conversation can be lively is a reward, but I still feel the loss.

The blog allows for self-expression and far-flung connections, but the fact that my fingers are only touching the keypad leaves something wanting. . .

atomic mama said...

I've got your "tender" right here, comrade.

Like I've said before, for better or worse I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal. If I'm gonna do something, there is rarely anything half-assed about it, FB not excluded. I was FB-resistant for many reasons, a big one being that it is an outlet where my personal/adoption, personal/non-adoption, various professional, various educational, and familial worlds all collide. Why would I want to do that?! Regarding typological approach, I'm a splitter, not a lumper, and FB forces me to use a lumping classification system. I thought it would be weird (that, and I, too, just don't get the fake snowballs). Turns out it wasn't weird (most "friends" aren't active enough to make me censor myself as much as I thought I'd have to). But I could take or leave FB, honestly. But as a good FB/IRL friend would say - piss or get off the pot!

And the gifties - it's largely fluff and obligate reciprocity - but not all of it. Some applications save actual animals and set aside real rainforest acreage and fund rural African villages, depending on how many of these virtual "things" you send and receive. But it is annoying as hell and feels an awful lot like spam when you're in the middle of it. And yet other apps are like video games - MyFarm is like a scaled-down SIMS. The chickens peck and the fruit trees produce and must be harvested in order to make money and buy more farm equipment to do more... things!

FDChief said...

Mike: Ta.

Lisa: Thing is, people have been doing this for centuries, since the advent of literacy, at least. Look at some of the great correspondance of the 19th Century, perhaps the apex of the "epistolary friendship". The electronical internet makes it quicker and easier - you couldn't send mezzotints of your kids from London to your friend in New York in 1887 - but it's the same idea. Some great relationships were conducted through the mail back in the day. Now it's facebook and twitter and blogger.

The one difference I see is the self-aggrandizement factor. When you were writing someone longhand you were writing for just your and their delectation. The electronic media encourage a certain...showmanship, shall we say?...that tends to, I think, get some of us off-topic and fiddling with garnish rather than getting the meat of the argument sufficiently well served.

You're absolutely right, tho, in sayng that it can't replace impassioned conversation conducted over wine amid the broken meats of a fine dinner. But I'm grateful for the capacity to enjoy at least this much interaction.

AM: I apologize for even implying that you are anything but tough as nails! I was thinking of your RD persona and this movie: where Ginger Rogers plays you...

I didn't get the connection between the gifts and the service donations - why doesn't FB make that more explicit? And I'm intrigued by the farm thing - I don't seem to be able to do anything with it. Is there a seperate application you have to open to make the farm "work?" FB is REALLY bad about explaining that stuff - it seemed to me just like the snowballs, where you just "threw" them and that was that.

I'll have to poke aroundand see if I can make it work. I have a cow I'm neglecting somewhere in the aether.

Lisa said...

You are right -- letters were a fine form of intimate communication, and I, too, am grateful for this much. Many did not like Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day" because of the extreme restraint, but I had no difficulty with that (the British side, y'know.)

All things considered, blogging gets a thumbs up; other social networking, thumbs down. Extraneous...I don't see too many pithy phrases there.

FDChief said...

Lisa: I tend to agree with you. While some people (like "You Know..." who commented on this thread) give good facebook, IMO there's waaaay too much "Whoa, dude! You look SO wasted in that picture" bilge on FB and the other "social networking" sites. There's something about the medium that encourages a high-school-freshman-to-college-junior kind of attitude. It was tolerable when I WAS a high school sophomore. But that was a loooonnnnggg time ago.

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

As you may have noticed, I'm just one of those who can't handle FB. I don't get it. I use it because I like it when gradeschool friends find me. However, I...don't...get it! This may seem odd considering what an obsessive blogger I am. But when it comes to FB, I am the 70-year-old who's afraid of the microwave.
I never accept the "things" people send me. They frighten me a little. I feel like I might be required to pay for them somehow. So I have this huge, intimidating list of things people have sent me which I have not accepted.
Nor do I understanding "poking". I'm sorry, but WTF does that MEAN????

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

ps- brachiation, brachiation, BRACHIATION!!
That's my new favorite word.
I didn't know it (and I'm surprised that I didn't, because I'm a huge word geek).
But I got the latin root right away. I'm big on latin roots. And branches.

FDChief said...

WD: I, too, find the gimmicks silly and a little irritating - I hate the way the application takes you from the "accept a gift" page to the damn silly survey or a similar promotional page. Ugh.

And I like the word "brachiation", too. I wish I could DO it...