Linda Stamper Boyne: Finally sucked into Facebook
Vail, CO, Colorado
I did something last month I really never had any intention of doing.
After repeated requests from close friends, I finally gave into peer pressure.
I joined Facebook.
I always saw it as a time sucker, something I would just get drawn into and lose hours of my life, time I’d never get back. And I was pretty much right.
But a couple of friends wouldn’t let up.
They said it was a great way to keeping up with each other, an easy way to share photos, a way to get in touch with people who don’t do Christmas cards.
So I finally gave in.
And while I have reconnected with a few friends and relatives from afar, I find the whole thing a little voyeuristic.
There are limits I can set to determine who can see my information, my conversations, my photos, etc.
However, some people are more public than I, so I end up seeing or reading things I feel like I shouldn’t.
It’s like I’m eavesdropping on friends, and I have a strict rule about only eavesdropping on strangers. Otherwise it’s rude.
I get the same feeling when I look at photos in People or Us magazines, when I’m seeing celebrities living their lives, getting coffee, walking down the street, on vacation.
I feel like a stalker. Not in a good way.
And the whole process of acquiring friends is very odd, a little socially awkward, like asking people, “Will you be my friend?” It all just seems a little desperate.
It runs contrary to what I’ve always believed about friendship. It tests the traditional, well-established rules of how friends are established, challenges every social convention I have always know regarding friendship.
It establishes a whole new social structure, a new category of friends. The virtual friend. And I have no idea what to do with them.
Historically, my closest friends are people I trust, people I care about and who I know care about me.
Then there is the next level of friendship, people you enjoy, the ones you share common interests or activities with, not the ones you’d call in an emergency but people who have a place in your life.
Then there are people you like, that you chat with when you see them, that you would call a friend if referring to them, but you may or may not have their phone number.
So where do these virtual friends fit into my social strata?
Some of them are my actual friends, my nearest and dearest, my confidants, my besties, my BFFs.
Some are people I used to know, who I cared about at one point in my life but don’t have an actual place in my life now, just a virtual place.
And sometimes the friend request comes in from someone I know, but I have no idea where to put them in my traditional friend categories.
I don’t know where to draw the line, who to “accept” when I get a request and who to “ignore.” Honestly, ignoring just feels wrong.
I feel a little guarded still, not sure I want to let everybody into my virtual life.
Another thing I find awkward is that you can see right up front who everyone’s friends are.
Where else do we proclaim, “These are my 289 friends”? It just feels a little invasive and boastful.
Does my list of 13 friends pale in comparison to one of my friend’s list of 289? Yes. Am I more discriminating? Apparently.
Does it make me feel like a bit of a loser? Kinda.
And Facebook announces to the world whenever you do anything. “Linda and Jane Blahblah are now friends.” “John Whodat wrote on Linda’s wall.”
It’s like being followed around by a sportscaster, describing every move you make. “Linda is walking from her car to the grocery store.” “Linda fell out of her chair for no apparent reason.” Really? Do people really need to know all this?
I realize that I will eventually become accustomed to the world of Facebook, but for the time being, please don’t be offended if I ignore you. I don’t mean to be rude.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards can be contacted through email@example.com