Monday, May 10, 2010

Hatin' on Facebook: the pressures of social networking

Am I the only person who hates Facebook?

Friends and family encouraged me to sign up for Facebook, but I held out, refusing for some intuitive reason. People Twittering "I just had the best mocha Frappuccino of my life!" and others summing their current complicated state of affairs into clever one liners depressed me somehow. The information superhighway felt lonely with all its banal generalities - no real, deep human connection it seemed from from the outside looking in. I finally capitulated despite my reservations, under the guise of social networking for this blog and the book I've been writing (forever it seems). And now that I am a full-fledged Facebook member I realize how crazy that rationalization was. Because at the end of the day, I am the least self-promoting person there is...I never advertise my posts! Ever. I send these blogs out into the blogosphere thinking I'm writing letters to my close friends and that feels much more grounded and authentic, as opposed to advertising and therefore implying "Hey, check out my musings. I'm a writing genius." I'll obviously have to cultivate a more self-propagating attitude if I'm at all interested in having more readers down the line!!

My mom, who predominantly pushed FB, has a huge following of Friends herself. She said "It's OK if you don't want to be Friends with someone, you can politely decline their request. No big deal." She assured me they'd never know I'd snubbed them...and I naively believed her. So I signed up and people came out of the woodwork in droves. I've had the privilege, thanks to my mom's line of work, of going to many schools in exotic places while I grew up, so lots of classmates, teachers, friends and acquaintances came forward... Some were both amazing and startling to hear from, but once the novelty wore off, I realized I was expected to stoke these friendships to keep them going. People wanted news and personal banter, not just a quick update and then head back into obscurity. I was reminded how nutty I actually am when I'd feel panic that I might be letting these new Friends down when I didn't answer their questions; or that I might hurt others if i didn't press "Accept." I am decidedly way too Codependent for FB; I worry way too much about others' feelings...to a fault. "How's your life? How was your public divorce? What have you been doing for the last 20 years?" I want to type back "Oh go crawl back under your rock. There's a reason we didn't stay in touch way back when..." I know , it doesn't sound "friendly" at all, in fact, it's downright hostile.

The truth is, these days I feel pulled in so many directions. It's a full plate with kids, girlfriends, family - and I am a big time communicator. I love nothing more than sitting down with my circle of people and connecting by sharing from the heart. I just can't do soundbites and I am ultimately disinterested in widening my immediate circle and taking time away from those that matter to share platitudes.

I am clearly not a good Facebook candidate. I never update or upload new photos. And I have over 100 people waiting to hear back from me. It doesn't make me feel popular, it's just that I've covered some terrain in my day and met a lot of people on the journey. So I remain passive. With an open page that is neglected. Maybe one day I'll delete myself entirely or maybe one day I'll feel a surge of ambition and I'll use that page to direct traffic to my humble blog, "The M.I.L.K."

Oh, and by the way Mom, I've had at least eight people come to me at the gym, the grocery store, and the park and ask me point blank why I have not agreed to be their Friend on Facebook. Each time I'd try my best to explain (and backpedal)and they'd give me a look that I read as 'slightly hurt with a trace of suspicion.' So they do take it personally...just as I had suspected!! And people are keeping track of who says yes and who says no. Total nightmare for me, so of course, I'd dutifully head home after those exchanges and "befriend" them... Like I said, total Codependent.

4 comments:

Bee and Rose said...

I'm not a Facebook fan either...

I tried it for a while and it was so overwhelming to keep up with all of the friendships that I finally had to cut myself a break and shut it down.

I am much more comfortable with the blog thing:)

Tempest said...

I learned from Myspace not to take social networking sites so seriously (i.e. people taking it to heart when they are not added). When I joined Facebook, I only sought out people I knew--either former schoolmates or colleagues. I denied requests from people I did not know. I hated it when people requested me just because we have mutual friends and I usually deny those as well. Some people I have deleted requested me back and I would just deny them. Requesting someone who has deleted you seems desperate to me. I can't stand trite updates, people posting the same thing over and over again like "I'm at work" or "I'm at the gym" or attention-seeking drama that should be kept offline. I have hidden the feeds of several people on my list for this reason. I think eventually another social networking site will launch and people will abandon FB the way they did Myspace.

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