The Facebook Curmudgeon: Peer-Pressure Never Ends

No Telling

Okay, so after 3 1/2 months of Official Facebook Abandonment, I’m back on. I don’t have to like it, though.

I just don’t get it, really. Am I missing something? I Twitter, and that’s even beginning to make a little sense as long as I don’t follow people who tell me they just brushed their teeth. I follow a lot of editors, bloggers, and friends. I even follow Christopher Walken who’s certifiable and therefore entertaining. I’m not doing it very well myself, but it’s interesting to follow others.

Not so much with Facebook. After all those months the “friend requests” were staggering, as were the “gifts.” No one can convince me those apps are a good time. I don’t want virtual houseplants or anything that requires me to List Ten Things.

Ive discussed my history with Facebook before. You know, five years ago you couldn’t sign up without a .edu email address – it was nothing but college students. I signed up as a classroom experiment in which I made Facebook groups for each class I taught. For contacting students and answering questions, it worked beautifully.

Last night I logged on only to find I had over 500 friends – a scary mix of old high school buddies and recent students. It was decision time, and the youngsters lost out. I deleted over 400 students I’d accumulated over four years of the online classroom experiment. All that deleting was exhausting and gave me the terribly feeling I’d thrown out all the babies with the bathwater.

When the carnage was over, I peeked at my Friend Feed to see what was left. What remains reminds me of those old party-line phones where you picked up and heard other people’s conversations. Do I need to know Shelly lovingly prepared Spam and tater tots for dinner? Or that it’s late and Barry is tired? Is it any of my business that, without explanation, Linda’s changed her relationship status to “single”? No, no, and no.

My daughter wandered in as I sat there staring at the screen dumbfounded. Em tried, bless her heart, to convince me Facebook could be interesting. She showed me how to “lurk” or “creep” – clicking willy-nilly through and across and over layers of friends to find out the poop on everyone. It was like watching digital macrame and the end result was the same: I couldn’t make myself care. Besides, all her friends are funky and in their risk-taking years. All mine are dull and in their heart-attack years. She doesn’t see a lot of Spam-and-tater-tot updates, for example.

I did learn something important from Em’s Facebook Stalking Tutorial: if you don’t update your status, no one looks for you. Looks like I’m in the clear.

It all boils down to this: As terrible as I am at Twitter, I’m a much, much worse Facebook friend. My colleagues and closest friends are aware of my failure to socially-network properly. They forgive me in that Southern way by bless-your-hearting my digital eccentricity and trying to include me even if I never respond.

I’ll post a link to this on my Facebook status update as an act of contrition. Baby steps.

24 thoughts on “The Facebook Curmudgeon: Peer-Pressure Never Ends

  1. I'm so with you on the Facebook/Twitter observation. I could not care less what people are doing every minute of every day. Sheesh. There's no way they can get anything else done.

  2. I hate Facebook, I found out about blogging three months ago and I’m hooked, I’d rather deal with strangers every day and that’s the magic about blogging I guess. now I’m trying to find a way to dumb my Facebook account. I don’t think anybody would notice really 🙂

  3. Now I'm going to go twitter about Spam and tater tots, cuz I think I'm missing the point here but I heard SPAM TATER TOTS TWITTER and this seems logical.

    Further, I am not on Facebook, because I can't bring myself to care and there's no way I can figure out to make it have pretty robots like my mypsace, twitter, blogger, livejournal, and everything else, therefore it would not match, and my online OCD can't cope with that.

  4. Pretty soon we won't have time for non-virtual life. I refuse to twitter–I resisted tittering for most of my life, and twittering sounds too much like that for me…

    I kind of liked it when 'office hours' once a week were enough to keep up with the students. Call me a curmudgeon.

  5. Hi – have tried twitter, I lasted about a month. My real friends have started facebooking but I can't really get my head around it. Blogging is my limit. I can't remember all the passwords and names and part of me doesn't want to risk knowing that everyone is having a much better time than I am! I'd rather live in blissful real-time ignorance. I was never one for 'keeping up with the Jones's'

  6. FB updating- I'm awesome at it.
    Twittering- I last updated two months ago.

    I guess it's more of a, how social are you, type thing. I speak more with friends and family I am separated from by thousands of miles, so it keeps me up-to-date on people I miss. Otherwise, I wouldn't pay attention. I didn't get into FB until I moved.

    You're right, there's no reason you need to know Sandy is making a fabulous dinner or Joe Bob is now in a relationship with Billie Sue. It cool to make fun of them though. 🙂

  7. Facebook, Twitter? I just don't get it. I feel like an outsider watching everyone else having a hilarious time while speaking in their coded messages. The pressure of trying to being cool and witty is too much for me.

  8. I've been on Facebook only a few months and even though I agree with all of what has been said here, FB allows me to stay in some sort of touch with people I have not heard from in decades. So, even when someone posts photos of what they had for lunch, I know that's a highschool buddy and I don't mind.

  9. Maybelline, Facebook (and Twitter at its worst) reminds me of my daughter when she was three and walked around narrating her own life to strangers. Very little difference.

    Blogging is so much more fun, Faith, and prettier as well.

    Ah, our Gen-Y gal Julia. I love that you were probably born with a keyboard under your fingers and yet you use old manual typewriters. Don't go anywhere the robots can't follow, gal.

    Kate, email ruined office hours first. I have to put a “no email check” before 8:00 or after 5:00 clause in my syllabus or I'd be working 24 hours a day now.

    I'd understand Facebook if all my friends were elsewhere, Countrymummy, but they're all a few blocks away or down the hall. I still know how to pick up a phone, is what I'm saying. Maybe we'd keep up with the Joneses if they were more interesting.

    Girl Meets Gun, I still like meeting over coffee and gossiping face-to-face. We have a family Ning for keeping up with those who live far away and that's fun. It's private, though.

    Terri, my students tell me there are people who live their entire lives on social media and never walk out of their dorm rooms. Not terribly social, really. I suspect some of those folks online aren't cool, they just have cool online personas.

  10. I got sick of facebook because of the 'friends' who aren't friends at all sending me silly messages. I might join again under a false name so that I can keep up to date on real friends maybe… Have to say I haven't missed it at all.

  11. I refuse to open a Facebook account and I am continually tarred and feathered for it. I'm not old and out of touch – just turned 30 a few months back – but I do work in a high school and I don't need these kids knowing my every move. Besides, who has the time? Seriously? I have a full time job, a full time 1 year old and a full time hubby (not to mention a diabetic dog). Besides, in my limited exposure to Facebook, it has caused some major marriage issues for some friends. Highschool wasn't so much the 'whole bag of chips' making me care what those peeps are doing now anyway.

    I love reading your posts (been here awhile but haven't commented much.)

  12. I enjoy Facebook. I enjoy knowing what is going on with my friends and family on a daily basis without having to call them to find out because really, I just don't have the time. A quick scan of the status updates for my closest friends and family keeps me up to date. And I like knowing that they are up to date with what is going on in my life.

    I have no remorse about deleting and blocking the distant “friends” who annoy me on a daily basis. Its not likely that I will ever see them face to face again.

    One thing I find interesting about the social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are the new social rules that come along with them. Rules like: what is an acceptable status update, what is not, and the always mindfulness of knowing that hundreds of people may read what you post.

    When I got engaged my sister said “I am so glad I didn't find out about this on Facebook”. Some things still deserve that personal touch.

  13. I totally agree with you about Facebook. I joined to get photos of grandkids, but I really don't get it! “Will you be my friend?” seems so grade school, and a mature cousin that I haven't seen in 40 years (a major in the army, no less) tried to start a Facebook 'pillow fight' with me yesterday! What? I do not get it either. I actually HAVE a life!

  14. I too at one time was approaching 500 “friends” on facebook. I realized that I never talked to any of these people and didn't truly care about them. Since then, I try only to add people I am interested in keeping contact with. I live hours away in every direction from the people I love and the friends I miss, so it's an easy way to stay in touch.

    I do remember the days when I thought facebook was just a bunch of faces in a book. I know better now.

  15. I'm on Facebook, but I don't go on too often. It's nice to see what my nieces and nephews are up to. Do tey like receiving comments from their Aunt? Not too sure about that! LOL! I was on Facebook before my daughter. Then she got on. Now she's on it daily. This has caused a couple of disagreements between us as to the amount of time she is spending on it during working hours. Now I just keep my mouth shut and don't write ANY comments on her page.

    I do not twitter. I snort when I laugh, but do not twitter.

  16. Blogging makes perfect sense to me. Facebooking the fact that I clipped my finger and toenails yesterday strikes me as odd and unseemly. I stick to Blogger and shant breach the Facebook realm any time in the near future. Call me crazy.

  17. i had to make a facebook at one point so as to view photos of a wedding dress i'd made for someone
    but dumped the whole thing recently
    getting friend messages from obscure unknowns and busniesses in Nigeria and none of it made sense to me

    and what is all this writing on the wall business? blogging is enough, already.
    have a nice day out in the real whirled.

  18. Susan, I'm right there with you. What's to miss?

    I'm thrilled to hear from you, Daffy! Let them tar and feather you – your own business is your OWN. And I don't blame you, especially with the high school students. Been there.

    Raise your fist high, Steven!

    Four of Six, it's a lot of trouble weighing out how much is too much and just enough on those status updates. My students tell TMI stories that would make us all blush.

    A virtual pillow fight? KSpoering, I'm shaking my head right along with you. Like you, I can always find something better to do.

    That “500” friends business is overwhelming, isn't it? I've got a friend who only keeps 86 friends at any given time on Facebook. The Rule of 86 sounds like a good idea.

    Pat, I never, never comment on my daughter's page for that very reason. And Twitter? At least no one tries to give me virtual plants there.

    That made me laugh, Becs. I wonder how many bad musicians there are on MySpace?

    Exactly, MJ. Blogging is more fun – information, stories – and you can come and go as you please without everyone knowing what you ate for lunch.

    I don't understand the Writing on the Wall either, India. Give me blogging any day.

  19. I love blogging but I love Facebook also. For me they are of different dimension as to my intention of using them. I use blogging to share my views and sentiments, and I use Facebook to play games with their application and at the same time be updated with what's knew with my friends. But the similarities of both is that I can use them to relive and release my stress. In blogging I can let out my stress and depression by writing what i feel and in playing Facebook applications I can also relieve my stress because of the enjoyment I'm getting. =)

  20. Ronmia, you sound completely de-stressed. Facebook and Twitter tend to have the opposite effect on me.

    Diggestive, when I was a little girl all the women hung out at each other's houses and kept up that way. I miss that.

    La Deedah, I'll admit that it's useful at times, but I'm not sure the useful outweighs the creepy. I'm going to be a good Facebook sport and give it another try. No promises, though.

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