Monday, November 24, 2008

It's your thing, do what you want to do....

It has now become fashionable to dismiss Facebook as some kind of soulless corporate machine, dedicated to squeezing every drop of information out of our friendships, music tastes, and facility at board games. For example, take a look at this: (PopMatters)

So we get friendship without the trouble of having to put effort into the relationships. It’s friendship rendered convenient through technology, and the convenience to a degree denatures the original significance—isn’t the substance of relationships ultimately anchored in the effort we feel ourselves putting in? (Or am I simply mystifying the ideal of working at things?)


I'm in partial agreement; the effort that one puts into maintaining friendships is a pretty good indicator of their success, but I don't think that the site itself has that much to do with how we're all "bowling alone" as a society. I recently received a new alumni directory from my college and, using that information, have reconnected with a couple of people on their Facebook pages! Maybe it's a conspiracy. If you want to reestablish and maintain relationships, Facebook offers a one-stop hub for doing just that. On the other hand, if you just want to play games and send people weird cyber-stuffed animals then Face is also the place. Facebook can't control how you use it and also to a large extent can't control how much of yourself (pics, personal info) is on your page.

I have just under 300 Facebook friends, and probably regularly communicate with less than 10% of them through the site. They tend to be the ones I see regularly, we communicate back and forth about plans and common interests. There is a also a segment of friends that I know I went to grade school with but honestly can't remember. They contacted me and I'm happy to know them. But the vast majority are like the minister in Michigan whom I went to an Indigo Girls concert with in college or the actress in Charleston who once received a Richard Bausch novel from me as a birthday gift. Not to mention the large contingent of actors I've worked with who have moved on to other cities. I didn't mean this post to turn into a hymn to Facebook, but merely to jab at the hysteria the site seems to excite. But I will say that in ways large and small my friends both cyber and real are a part of me, and I'm enriched by knowing that I can if I so choose have easy access to them. The rest is up to me.

(Oh, and every one of my friends who has expressed views similar to those in the post I linked to has eventually wound up getting a page. Hi guys!)

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