Thursday, September 17, 2009

Social networking

I am not on Tw.itt.er, but I am on Fac.ebo.ok and have been for over a year. I have to say that I am a little bit hooked on checking the site periodically throughout the day. (I also have a mild "Bejeweled Blitz" habit, which is one of the games on Fac.ebo.ok, for those who may not know.)

Somehow my list of "friends" has slowly grown until I now have over 300 people on there. I am actually more careful than many people I've talked to in the way I manage my Friends list, so I've been more than a little surprised to end up with that many people on the list. I don't accept requests from anyone unless I actually know the person. The mere fact that we went to the same high school or college or had mutual friends is not enough for me to accept a friend request from someone. There have been occasions when people have "friended" me and I have sent them a message asking how we are acquainted. . . . and we weren't. This astounds me, as I would never consider adding someone as a friend who I didn't even know. . . . but I am aware from talking to other "FB" users that this is not an uncommon practice.

Several of FB's features intrigue me. One is its friends suggestions which it terms "People You May Know." Over the months of using FB, I've discovered that usually it suggests people as friends if you and that person have mutual FB friends or attended the same schools. Interestingly, I have had it happen several times that two people on my Friends list who, as far as I knew, were totally unrelated are friends with the same person FB is recommending. Without exception, I don't know this third person, but I'm always surprised to find that two people who know me somehow know one another, independent of me, even though I can't guess how they might be acquainted. Guess that is a little of that whole "six degrees of separation" thing people talk about.

Another weird feature of FB is its ads. Some of the ads are obviously targeted at the user based on information contained in the FB profile: for example, I get a lot of ads for legal stuff. But oddly enough, I also get ads for "mom" stuff when I am clearly NOT a mom and have recently gotten ads for "Class of 1989" stuff when my profile lists 1988 as my graduating year. (I did skip a grade, so maybe those are targeted only based on date of birth.)

Friends of mine have gotten ads for weight loss, lesbian cruises, and teeth whitening, and in all cases, they were products that were neither indicated nor desired, i.e., a thin/normal-weight person got the weight loss ad; a married Mormon friend got the ad for the lesbian cruise.

Another thing that strikes me as odd when I stop and think about it is how FB allows "friends" to keep tabs on each other. I use the term "friends" in quotations here because let's face it: most of my FB "friends" are really more acquaintances. In fact, my BFF is not even on FB, and neither are a few of my other close circle of friends. I try to be mindful of this fact with everything that I post, from photos to status updates. While the majority of my friends in real life are liberals, or at least middle-of-the-road politically, many of my friends on FB are conservatives. So I have to think about whether a given post may offend them.

Also, my ex-fiance, SL, is on my Friends list, and the more I think about this, the more I think that accepting a friend request from him probably wasn't a good idea. Not only is he able to view selected wedding photos of mine and see other pictures of my husband, I now know that he recently accepted a new job and will be moving. . . . information that neither of us would have about the other but for FB.

On the other hand, I find it really fun to catch up with people from the past whom I hadn't talked with in years. My "oldest" friend on FB is a girl I met at band camp when I was 12, and I have made contact with at least 8-10 other people whom I hadn't talked to in over 15 years. (Interestingly, not as many people from high school in my case as you might think.)

I also enjoy reading the status updates of most of my "friends". . . . and the ones I don't enjoy, I use the "hide" feature on. ;-)

Anyway. Just some random thoughts.

I'd love to hear comments from anyone else who uses FB. What do you like and dislike about it? (And am I totally missing out by not being on Tw.itt.er?)

7 comments:

TUWABVB said...

Yes, you are totally missing out by not being on Twitter! :) SEriously, though - it's fun. It's like IM for your Internet friends. And you can post about new blog updates, etc. I always find the answer to a question on it!

You know I hate FB and it's for the precise reason you stated - I hate that people can keep tabs on me - it just seems too intrusive, so I don't use it except to contact old friends and then I use email.

Mo said...

I'm on Twitter but only because I follow my mother who has become quite the political socialite. That huge gathering in Washington DC at the capital building over the weekend? She was there. It was crazy. LOL

I absolutely LOVE Facebook (which you're more than welcome to friend me on) because I do have a lot of friends from all over the world and it's hard to keep up with everyone.

Funny you mention the 'People You May Know' because recently I had a suggestion pop up for a person whom I dated twice last year. We have no mutual friends, are different ages, and went to different high schools. I found it both odd and startling that he just popped up one day.

My recent hate on Facebook is the ads. Because my status says "engaged" I see all the ads for the pre-wedding diets and drop the flab to fit in your dress type of ads. I LOATHE them.

Land family said...

I'm on facebook but not the big T. Don't get it.

I only have about 30 "friends" on FB and most of mine are relatives from around the country or real friends. I'm weird about excoworkers and I'm holding off on social contacts from the school (PTO).

I have noted that many of my friends have exes (all of them!) listed as "friends" on FB. I don't. I have been approached by exes and I want no part of it, but that's due mostly to the circumstances surrounding the break ups. My dh is a total chicken $hit and is afraid of exes too, so he won't get on FB.

Me and my super dork family members are having fun with some of the games (f@rmtown for example, the r0llercoaster one is whacked). For us it's a way to stay connected, so I can see if I had a lot of friends it would be an easy way to keep tabs on so many.

Don't have that problem. And you know that I've NEVER paid attention to the ads? Now I will!

Rona said...

ah...after this comment I will be going to facebook...to play more Bejeweled Blitz! :)

MB said...

I recently opened a FB and Twit account but I have to say FB kind of freaks me out. So many people I don't remember or don't care about. I didn't like them in high school, I don't want to be their "friend" now. I'm actually thinking about deleting my account but I love to see what everyone else is doing and looking at their pictures. If I knew then what I know now, I would have used a fake name to sign up.

Hilly said...

See, I actually like Twit better than FB. The only real reason I pay attention to FB is to play games, honestly. Sometimes I post statuses and links and read others as well but mostly, I tend to forget about FB.

Twit is like a total TMI factory, which I adore, haha. Also, I use it to see what people I know are doing and to talk back and forth with them.

The GVZ's said...

I like FB, probably for all of the wrong reasons. I like knowing what happened to people, want to see pictures of their kids, etc. WITHOUT actually having to talk to them. Ha. I am not on Tw.itt.er at all because I don't really get it. It is just non-stop status updates, right? That's my least favorite part of FB, so I will probably skip it.