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Just Call Me 20th-Century Girl

27 January 2009

I’ve got an awkward relationship with Facebook. I like it, but so many parts of it are weird. Don’t believe me? Let me list the ways.

  • Profile pictures. Sure you think your kids are cute. But if I’m trying to reconnect with someone from high school, I am not going to recognize you from your kid(s)’ picture. No matter how cute the children in question are. Put a recent pic of your face on there — it’s called FACEbook for a reason, you know. And don’t tell me you don’t have a recent pic; use your computer’s webcam; take a picture standing in front of a mirror; or take your cellphone/camera,  hold it at arm’s length, and snap.
  • Friending: Part 1. Why would you friend me and then never reply to my comments on your statuses? How rude. I get the message — you aren’t interested in me — but still. (And check Friending: Part 3 for more derision.)
  • Friending: Part 2. How I wish you could check out someone’s profile before friending them. It would save us all a lot of grief. For example, a high-school era friend recently joined a “Thankful for President George W Bush” Facebook group. I had to “unfriend” her — I just couldn’t imagine still having anything in common with her. Even the Republicans I know (and yes, I do know some!) were glad to see the end of these past eight years. Come to think of it, she hadn’t be responding to my comments, either. I think she wasn’t comfortable with my politics  (which I have described as “To the left .. a little more … even more … there!” — Witty, isn’t it? Yeah, I thought so), which, as you know, neither of us could have checked out before friending each other. QED.
  • Friending: Part 3. Or, Friending as a Competitive Sport. Look, you may be vying for the position of the facebooker with the largest number of friends ever, but please don’t use me as a pawn in your weirdness. I have a pending friend request for someone I have never met. She happens to be a friend of someone I know, from Dancing Rabbit (that intentional community we are loosely affiliated with). I have never met her; did I mention that? I know nothing about her. Why would I want to be a “friend” to someone I do not know?
  • Friending: Part 4. I cannot fathom why I would want to “friend” work colleagues. I  know, I know, there’s a fine line between colleague and friend, but I have taken a look around, and all the project coordinators for one of my clients have Facebook pages, with the name of the press affiliated with their Profile. They are all cool people, and I have great relationships with them over email; but I sure wouldn’t want them to know as much about me as I put out there on Facebook. I can’t imagine anything good coming from such an affiliation. (This is why I like having the blog, its anonymity gives me a feeling of security. [What? You thought I really was an imperatrix and my daughters’ names were Impera and Trixie? 😉 ] )

The Consort says I am over-thinking the whole thing. He says I should friend everybody, and interact with the ones who want to interact, and just kind of ignore the rest. Hmmmm. I think I’m too anal to be able to do that.

Having shared these bullets, though, I need to say that I do enjoy the daily chit-chat with those folks who are genuine friends. I’m not going to give up on Facebook, I’m just going to continue to take it more seriously than I should.

(So, do you think I should friend that stranger? I think not. Probably not. Aaargh!)

19 Comments leave one →
  1. cowgirl permalink
    27 January 2009 2:33 pm

    no – don’t friend the stranger– its not worth it…

  2. 27 January 2009 2:50 pm

    No, don’t friend her.
    Profile pics – thank goodness someone said this! it bugs me when people do it too. and i know it’s unlikely – but if you know any psychos that could want to snatch your kids, why would you make it so easy for them? I don’t geddit.
    Friending parts 1, 2 and 3 – amen!
    Work people – I don’t know, I’m friends with some of them – but only people I’d friend anyway, not people I’d never interact with out of work. And mostly ones that do more reprehensible things than me out of work!
    Some people I’m friends with and just ignore. But some I’d feel uncomfortable knowing they could see, even if I ignore them and they never interact with me.
    Two people I’ve removed from my friends list have tried to re-friend me. How embarrassing!

  3. Three of Four permalink
    27 January 2009 4:02 pm

    Creepy. I would not friend the stranger. I’ve found a few long lost friends on FB, but I don’t like the idea of people I don’t know well (or, at all) seeing the info & pics I post. Ick.

    As for the profile pic, I can’t agree. You know what I look like. My close friends know, too. The folks from high school know what I used to look like. I think we’d all agree my kids are much cuter. I might feel differently if my name were Jane Smith, and there were 45 other Jane Smiths on FB. For now, though, I’m the only me on FB.

    Don’t be too hard on the no-commenter friends. Maybe they want to be able to see what cool things are going on in your life, but don’t have anything colorful or witty to add?

  4. 27 January 2009 4:58 pm

    I used to have to use FB as a social networking tool for the company I was working for (good lord that is an akward sentence). People I didn’t know were friending me all the time and I was expected to friend them back. Then the company folded and I got rid of all the people I didn’t know. Recently I got rid of FB all together. I sent a note out to the people I want to keep in touch with say where they could find me on the internet if they were interested, my e-mail address and a warm goodbye. Really – I spend enough time on here without FB. That being said, the only time anyone commented was when I put up pictures of my daughter – but I guess that is the age my friends from high school/junior high are at.

  5. 27 January 2009 5:43 pm

    Don’t friend the stranger.

    I got a facebook page *for* work, because the kids I work with said that’s the only way I could get in touch with them. Ok, that’s fine.

    But now of course, I mix work with personal. I posted a status updating wondering what I should do for my birthday, and among the voices of my friends was a long 17-year-old who said “Drinkin’ and clubbin’ lol.”

    That’s wrong in so many ways.

  6. 27 January 2009 5:44 pm

    *lone* not long. Ugh.

  7. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    27 January 2009 7:16 pm

    cowgirl: OK!

    B: They tried to re-friend you? Wow, that’s tenacious.

    3 of 4: I disagree. Part of the fun is seeing what the person looks like now. Pics of kids are great in albums, but everyone looks better than they fear they do.

    Also, I should clarify: I don’t think people are required to comment on my statuses. But if I make a comment about how cute their kid is, or comment on one of THEIR status updates, then it’s only polite to acknowledge it. That’s all I’m saying.

    melanie: Yuck! I think companies using FB that way is just wrong. No one should be forced to share their life with strangers.

    Stew: You know, I think people should be able to make a separate acct for business purposes, then (after reading melanie’s and your experiences).

    And long 17-yo? That is too funny. Inappropriate, but funny!

  8. 27 January 2009 10:36 pm

    3 of 4, you’re actually wrong. There is another you on facebook. Unless you’re counting your middle initial.

  9. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    28 January 2009 7:27 am


    Consort, you are right!

    See, 3 of 4? You need to get a pic of you up there, because really, how many of your old friends remember what your middle initial is?

  10. Three of Four permalink
    28 January 2009 11:51 am

    WTF? Who is this person?!

    (for those of PI’s regular visitors who don’t understand this reaction: We have a Very Uncommon surname)

    Should I friend her, or just send her a note reading “You have stolen my name”?

  11. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    28 January 2009 12:14 pm

    Better write your note in French, then. 😉

  12. 28 January 2009 12:26 pm

    I know a lot of people who use Facebook, but I just can’t get very excited about it. I blog and email. I don’t have time/interest for everything: IM, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  13. 28 January 2009 8:37 pm

    I pretty much agree with you on all points. On a related note, I got my first Facebook Friend Spam today. Someone I don’t know at all–and with whom I have no friends in common–sent me a friend request, with this note: “A very goodmorning to you. My name is Alex, a student of linguistics from New Delhi, India. Of late, I have been studying books on Copyediting and proofreading. To be honest, I am not improving at all. I need some guidance from you.” Um, yeah, that’s a big ol’ click-on-the-IGNORE-button for you, I’m afraid…

  14. Cateling permalink
    29 January 2009 3:59 pm

    Ditching online friends for a whopper? Really?

  15. 30 January 2009 8:14 am

    Facebook scares me. I feel once I join, I will never, ever look up.

    And I read that NYTimes story yesterday, too, that Cateling links to. Good read.

  16. 31 January 2009 2:27 am

    First, you know about LinkedIn, right? It’s a more professional oriented Facebook.

    And I have recently reconnected with a few high school friends, who describe their political views as Christian Conservative. One is even an avid hunter–you know how I feel about that! But I can’t bring myself to unfriend them, just as I would never deliberately shun them if I met them in real life.

    As for the overall usefulness of Facebook, the best thing for us is being able to keep track of our daughters and extended family. It’s the first site we check when one is flying overseas during our nighttime, and I was happy to log in yesterday morning and see that my daughter was at least well enough to type a FB message. Also my nieces and nephews are having lots of babies these days, so it’s a great way to see baby pics and see that the latest preemie is finally going home.

    And finally, I’ve reconnected with some genuine friends who I am thrilled to hear from, even though I’ve learned quite sad things about their lives. I recently learned that a newborn I’d once cuddled had died last year from cancer at age 17. Wish I’d been able to offer some words of comfort sooner, but there you go.

    This is starting to turn into a blog post, isn’t it?

  17. 1 February 2009 9:35 am

    Okay–I’m trying Facebook too. Still tring to figure out all it’s parts–(It was a class assignment)
    What I have noticed is an incredible increase in spam–think possibly it is related?

  18. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    2 February 2009 8:41 am

    Cate: I heard about that when Facebook first told them to stop it. That experiment certainly showed up the superficiality of many modern relationships.

    Ellie: You’re probably wise to stay away from FAcebook — but it has been fun to reconnect with people from my (far) past!

    Kathy: I have been invited to join LinkedIn. But by one of my clients. So I figured it was more of a networking business site (and again, I won’t be “sharing” with clients the way I would with friends). Also, I don’t consider it shunning iif the woman in question never interacted with me once *she* invited *me* to be her friend. Like I said, I don’t want to be a number to boost someone’s Friend list. And I would expect that someone I know in real life would be interacting with me, so of course I wouldn’t shun a person I know IRL who holds different political views. I’m really not trying to be an asshole.

    MizMell: I have not had an increase in spam at all, so I don’t know if your increase is related to Facebook — maybe it’s due to the start of the year? (So spammers have just bought new lists of addresses?)

  19. 5 February 2009 8:42 pm

    I COMPLETELY AGREE- Facebook is nutty

    What makes me uncomfortable is when someone posts a picture from me from 20 years ago and tags it.. my entire friends network sees it! What if someone posts something from my long varied past I would much prefer not to be out… ya know?

    PLUS Facebook has deleted about 10 of my freaking pictures and shook their finger at me threatening me with deletion for posting my “pornography”… (what-uh-ever)

    I can’t get too upset about that latter thing tho.. They warn you up front– NO NUDITY. So that one’s on me.

    How I think I got into trouble to begin with? befriending all those skeletons from my closet- boy I associated with all kinds of people from the “ultimate fundamentalists to end all fundamentalists” to complete anarchists and everything in between. I just happen to like people!! They all fascinate me. Of course there’s bound to be people that hold great exception to the stuff I do and report me to facebook.

    Cool, huh? 😛

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