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.