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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Face Time

I don't get it.

I must get at least three or four messages a week from FaceBook with requests for people who want to be my friend.

Well, most of them are already my friends, so I don't understand the request.

Then, there are the messages from people who are friends of my friends with a note that reads, "X thinks you should be friends with Y."

Well, that's nice. That's real nice. Friendly, even, if not, well, a tad presumptuous, don't you think?

How is it that we can be "friends" in cyberspace? Being only one dimensional, it's not exactly a relational medium, even for the best of friends.

Besides, what does it mean, anyway?

Near as I can figure, it means that I get notices when someone has a cause to which they want to "invite" me to contribute. I also get "invitations" to "warm hugs," "good karma" and other very cute but confusing messages which I think are simply designed to increase web traffic to the FaceBook site.

I also get "invited" to what looks like various "affinity groups" - Anglican Bloggers, Episcopal Priests, and various efforts to get people who don't want to be on FaceBook to join FaceBook.

I don't know. I don't think it's really healthy to have too many "friends" who are Episcopal Priests. Indeed, I was advised against it by my ordaining bishop. Many of my friends have a healthy suspicion of organized religion - some of whom are my parishioners. Some of them are even Episcopal / Anglican priests. I treasure my friendship with them. They help keep me honest.

I often get a whole whack of invitations all together in one email. I 'ignore' most invitations for karma and hugs, 'reject' the invitations to become friends of friends I don't know, and 'confirm' the friends I know.

Mind you, I'm not at all certain why I do this, but never mind.

I got a message today that said, simply, "Rev'd X is really looking forward to vacation." Well, good on yer, pal. So am I. This is not exactly a news flash.

The worst moment comes when I have added the last "friend" and FaceBook has the absolute audacity to send me this message:

"You have no more friends."

I can't tell you how distressing this is. I mean, I'm old enough and have had enough therapy not to be as traumatized as I was in high school when I was not invited to sit at the same lunch table with all the 'cool kids'.

Even so, it's a rude thing to say, don't you think?

NOT "No more NEW friends," which would be okay. No, it's "No more friends."

I'm depressed for oh, one maybe two whole minutes after reading that.

Now, for the most part, nothing else happens after this.

I've checked out a few of these FaceBook pages. Folks seem to write lots of very personal, very revealing things on these very public places, with no way to control the messages and comments.

I mean, there was that FaceBook by a certain very high priced "escort" who had a certain, um, "relationship" with a certain NY Governor. That didn't work out so well for either of them, as I recall.

Then again, who am I to talk? I have this blog where I sometimes share very personal, very revealing things. But, then again, it's MY Blog. And, I have control over the messages left here.

Here's what it looks like to me: FaceBook is an alternative to people who don't want to have a personal blog, per se, or to be on or have to manage a listserv, which is replaced by these 'affinity groups'.

Is that right?

Someone help me out here. I'm not exactly a 'techno-Neanderthal, but I don't get it.

What's it all about, Alfi?


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, hey, I added you as one of my Facebook friends b/c your friend list has more photos of people with collars on than anyone's I've ever seen! I need more friends in high places!

Truthfully, what I have found nice about Facebook is that I like browsing my friends' photo albums, and enjoy trading smart remarks on the wall where others can see them...

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Elizabeth---try this video and see if it makes better sense to you...

Social Networking in Plain English

(I spent today putting together a major presentation on New Media---can you tell? ;-)

Doxy (who also refuses to "approve" people she couldn't pick out of a lineup)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - I KNOW! When I saw my FaceBook friends photo album, I really started to get worried.

Doxy - Well, okay. I get it, but I don't. I mean, I understand the principle (the video is very well done if even I get it), but it doesn't have a great deal of relevance in my life.

I suspect it may be a generational thing - a way of being in relationship among people who grew up with computers in nursery school.

I'm simultaneously amazed and appalled.

Fran said...

Generational? Maybe but I think that we may be close in age and I have come to admit a certain powerlessness over facebook. Deep sigh.

It should be noted that I have made a lot of "friends" there who are people that I have met in this circle of Episcopal bloggers.

I do have a Catholic friend that I met at a conference, but he got turned off when he saw I was in the Pax Christi group. (That is how I out myself when entering a new RC group in real life... "Hi I am Fran, more of a Pax Christi Catholic than say a Blue Army Catholic." It seems to work.)

While I do have a rich full life and I have enough blogging related activities to steal enough of my time, I am on facebook.

FWIW I hardly ever send hugs, karma or whatever. That said I did get a bishop's ring from someone today. I sent some vestaments back.

Perhaps I need to reconsider?

Frair John said...

You just spoke my mind.
i can't even get Facebook as a platform. Very hard to have conversations or anything. I prefer blogging.

One of my issues is though that the "friend" thing is over on LiveJournal as well. I suppose it is telling how casually we toss that word around now.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Friar. I think you've just hit on the one thing that really galls me about this - it's about how thoughtlessly - albeit casually - we toss around the word "friend."

Jake said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one that doesn't really "get it."

I've got a facebook page, but don't use it for much except to advertise blog entries. Although, all my grown children use it to talk to each other every day. They're scattered around the country, so I guess it is cheaper than a phone call. They also swap pics, videos, music, etc.

Only time I go over there is for the friend requests. The whole thing is rather weird. There was one guy who I rejected, and he kept sending new requests. It felt bad to keep rejecting him, but I have no idea who he was, we had no friends in common, or much of anything else that I could make out.

There's a young friend from RLP's chat room who stops in to throw a sheep or a chicken at me once in awhile. That's worth a smile. But how do you respond to "Spidey has just thrown a chicken at you." Do I throw it back? Or do I find a larger animal?

And what's with the ninja and pirates thing? I got requests to join both, so I did. Apparently, they are competing recruitment teams or something. So, now I'm stuck being a "pija" I guess?

Yea, I'll stick to blogs. Serves my purposes just fine, and is more aligned with my control needs.

EYouthWNY said...

For me (at age 50) Facebook is a quick and easy way to keep in quick contact with folks all over the world. Some of true "friends" and some are folks I've "met" online. It is quite simply a "network".

I don't do a lot of the karma/hugs stuff (though since I work with youth I feel like I need to do at least a little)

In a busy world it allows me to keep a least a light contact with folks about whom I care but don't get to see or talk with on a regular basis. They can also keep up with me as time passes too.


VTcrone said...

In the words of The Divine Miss "M" (Bette Midler);
"You'v Got To Have Friends"
"Cause you've got to have friends
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
Friends, I send you,
Oh you, yeah you, I send
You've got to have some Friends
Something about Friends,
Just right Friends
Friends, Friends, Friends"

Allie said...

I remember when I first joined facebook it was only for college students. It was a nifty way to remember peoples contact info, class schedules, etc. There were pics, a wall, and that was about it. Then they added minifeed, statuses, applications, and opened that gates to everyone (although in reality, they didn't do that until the first run of people started to graduate and the other option was to kick them off).

I find it useful for those original reasons but also to keep in touch with people I don't necessarily have a lot to say to, but really enjoy hanging out with.

I'm playing a game of scrable with a girl in central pa, a girl in long island, and a girl in Montana. Four person game that all of us on our crazy schedules can play together.

In terms of friends, well many student organisations run events off facebook -- people can invite their friends lists and having mailing list that people can drop in and out of. Its simple to let everyone know about events and not have to worry about adding poeple to a mailing list, although you can invite them.

I find most of the apps annoying as well, but I also enjoy some of what it has had to offer from the beginning.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

But, Allie, why are they so rude? I mean, it's really not nice to say "You have no more friends."

This is pretty mean-spirited, I think.

Allie said...

Good point..
but really, I thought it said "you have no more friend requests."

oh well.
I guess what they say is true - young people really are just rude


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, FWIW, I'm glad to be one of the uncollared, unwashed on your facebook page to break up all those collars. In fact, I think right now I have the picture of a deer I caught on my "deer cam" last winter. That picture cracks me up b/c you know that deer has no idea what a deer cam is, and she is probably irked that the foreign object she sees doesn't dispense shelled corn!

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Oh, and Fran, what app lets you send a bishop's ring?

Padre Mickey said...

Well, I find Facebook to be a big waste of time; too many people wanting to be friends and lil' green patch stuff and "likeness" thangs and Lordy, it's exhausting!

I don't really want any more friends; i just want everybody to join Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito's fan page.

Of course, we're already Facebook friends, which makes us hella cool. Waddya gonna do?

klady said...

Oh dear. I'm so out of it I did not recall who my Facebook friends were. I would have never joined if (a) Eileen hadn't made me do it and (b) my children told me they'd be embarrassed to death if I did (because it is ONLY for high school and college students). I figure that anything that embarrasses my teenaged daughter is worth a try.

I really, really, REALLY don't get it, I'm afraid. Anyone I have any reason to know or have known has or can get my email. And as someone who goes insane trying to manage my computer and avoid software glitches, I recoil everytime some new program from Facebook wants me to say "yes" to having access to my profile and plastering its icons all over my page. [At the same time, however, it's kind of fun to see which new one Eileen can't resist clicking on!] I can't keep my Facebook page neat and tidy or rearrange the parts like I can a web page. AND, with three private email accounts and work email and all the private and work-related feeds and subscription messages I get all day, how am I supposed to find time to keep track of Facebook happenings?

Should I worry that my friends list is in the low double digits while my children each have more than 300? Should I be glad that I have a place to watch them and their interactions with their 600 friends?

Grumble, grumble.

I do NOT like it, Sam I am.

Thank you for this opportunity to rant.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, my darling K-Lady, I accepted your invitation to be your friend on FaceBook, as long as you don't poke, send me a fish or otherwise annoy me, but you CAN write on my wall if you've got something important to say.

Gosh, why do I feel like a 6th grader? Ah, right. Cuz this was designed for that age level.

Lisa Fox said...

I'm with ya all the way, Elizabeth.

Like you and others, I'm selective about accepting "friend requests." I accept those I "know" (IRL or virtually).

I never know what to do when I get poked. As I have resisted adding any applications, I don't think I'm capable of poking back or hurling animals at my friends.

I do like being able to click on my friends' pages to see what they've posted on their pages.

Like many of you, I prefer to use my blog when I think I have something I want to say.

Nina said...

Elizabeth - I'm glad now I haven't tried to "friend" you even though you keep popping up on my "People You May Know" list.

I originally joined Facebook just so I could see the photos my college-aged stepson had posted on his account, and was surprised to discover many of my own friends on it - including lots of Diocese of Newark folk. That's what got me into it more.

Even though I'm a baby boomer I worked in technology for years, and I met my husband on the internet (in an online divorce support group back in 1997, not a dating site) so I do have a higher comfort level with using the internet in relationships. I tell people I'm the technology equivalent of someone who became fluent in a foreign language in adulthood.

I guess I don't feel I have enough to talk about to justify a "real" blog (or maybe that's just because I'm an introvert) so I like that I can use Facebook for Blogging Lite. If I see an intriguing article online there's often a Facebook icon with it that I can click to post it directly to my Facebook profile, and share it with my friends in a less intrusive way than email. I also like reading peoples' statuses, especially if I don't get to see them that often. Or even if I do - it's surprising what you can learn about your friends. I accidentally discovered one friend lived in the same part of Tennessee I grew up in, from something he posted on Facebook. (Since I've totally eliminated my accent, he didn't know I'm from Tennessee, and it never happened to come up IRL - "in real life.")

Yes, there's a lot of dreck on Facebook, but in small doses, it can be a fun way to connect with people. When I've maxed out on it I just ignore the rest, and trust my friends aren't offended that I don't accept their "Lil Green Patch" requests or whatever.

Now you, on the other hand, probably don't need Facebook except, like Fr. Jake, to direct folks to the latest posts on your real blog.

By the way if you want to "friend" me on Facebook, I'll accept. :)

Kirkepiscatoid said...

I never worry about poking back unless I'm in the mood. I consider it a mild form of "Hmm, that's nice, they're thinkin' of me."

But Elizabeth, you are right about the 6th grade stuff. However, I have been told that one of my great strengths is that "I am good at interacting with the 13 year old that lives inside of all of us." So poking now and then is ok!

Take two Sundays ago. I was acolyte and my best pal in church was chalice bearer. Here we are, both pushing 50, elbowing each other and suppressing snickers in the middle of EP-A because we both heard a loud fart in the front pew. We got the "eye roll" from the vicar, who then had to catch his own snicker from coming out. The thought of three 13 year olds ranging from 48 to 61 was in itself, a laughable moment!

Ann said...

I love Facebook - keeping up with the small bits of my friends' lives --- playing Scrabble with our son. I Twitter too.