So now I can be added to the burgeoning masses that blog about “OMG my mom and/or dad are on facebook!”
Yeah, now my dad is on facebook. Nothing wrong with that – dad has always* embraced technology, I remember seeing huge yellow books on our bookcases about learning C+ as a kid.
*except for the internet – I still recall the “waste of time” speech at the dinner table when our mother brought up the topic somewhere around 1998. Dad was converted by the time I graduated from high school though. Another memory I have is of him chatting with my aunts and uncles at our house after my graduation about how he was able to look up information about his old Air Force base in Minot online.
Dad rightly skipped the myspace “craze” and has now created a facebook page to keep tabs on his sons and also his siblings (Aunt Anne had a page before he did).
Now the really interesting thing is how you think of someone in your head when you have a “relationship” with their facebook page. The person that exists in my brain as “dad” is not really the same as the person I would “see” on facebook. I’d never really been faced with this conundrum before. Oh, sure, I’d dated women and checked their myspace pages out before meeting and been blown away (for good or bad) when meeting in person, but this was the opposite. I think this is the problem I have with the Facebook Status or Twitter. Tweets and Status updates are not indicative of a person. Furthermore, unless you really seriously know someone deeply, it is impossible to read the hidden meaning in these cryptic messages.
As someone who lays on the sarcasm a bit thick (so thick that my friend that I hadn’t seen for a while reminded me on Saturday to stop it) communication devoid of inflection and gesture can be rough. I also get a chuckle when I see a status update that probably seems benign to the other 150 friends on someone’s page – but because I know them well, I know they may be secretly laughing, hurting, etc. inside.
I’m being slowly dragged into this Facebook world, but I’ve learned to cut out all the BS. I’ll comment on something when appropriate/necessary. I’ll email on facebook if I don’t know/have a real email address and need to communicate. I changed my profile photo for the first time in two years last week. I haven’t put in a “status” message for over a year (and I’m not sure I did back then either), I’ve gotten rid of most of the “boxes” , “apps” and whatever, and I generally ignore any new ones (of which I get requests daily).
A friend of mine who has a job that depends on network told me about a month ago that I should rethink how I use the website. I had previously only been using it to keep tabs on certain people. “oh, Byron is in Phoenix..” “oh, my ex is sick/running/eating/sleeping/tired/scared/excited/younameit” “oh, my friends from class are bantering about our midterm” However, my friend told me that facebook can be a powerful networking tool if you use it properly. What that means is – be social – but somewhat professional. When used properly facebook can enrich what were previously business relationships and turn them into personal relationships. I’m not sure if that is entirely true, but you never know, your (or my) next job might come from someone you know on facebook.
I now have over 100 “friends” on facebook (dad was lucky #100), and believe it or not I actually think long and hard about whether to add certain people. Byron, if you’re listening – you can validate this as we had a discussion a few weeks ago when I was deciding whether to accept Mindy’s request. Mindy was a girl I went to high school with. We knew each other because we were in some classes together – but we mostly knew each other because I dated her older sister. What Byron informed me (although in different words) was that certain “friends” on facebook are like business cards in a rolodex. There would be no need for rolodexes if we didn’t keep the cards from people/businesses we didn’t use. Yet we keep them all “just in case.” Sometimes it can’t hurt to have these people “available” if you need them even though you may never. I may never have a personal conversation with Mindy for the rest of my life, but she IS in a network of people that I used to have close personal ties with – and you never know when I might need a piece out of that network to complete another puzzle (or more importantly – they might need ME).
How long will facebook last? A few years. A unified source of information is coming as phones (like this vaporware Palm Pre) tie all your digital “personality” bits together. Eventually (within 7 years) I think we’ll exist as personalities on the internet and not as any member of any certain sites. There are already a myriad of websites in existence now that disseminate your “tweets” or updates to all the sites you are a member of. I have a feeling this will eventually flip flop over back onto the user – and the user will have a cloud synced profile that starts with Google or Microsoft keeping the data. In that sense Twitter got it right, eventually we’ll all “subscribe” to each others’ information, but we won’t be using Twitter for short messages, wordpress for journal entries, facebook for photos and so on… we’ll have one unified account without many limits on characters or photos.
Google is already setting the pieces in motion. How many of us feed ALL our other email accounts to google? How many of us sync our Outlook Exchange with Google Calendar? How many of us use google docs? (I can tell you that Google Docs is The collaborative workspace in my MBA program – even though Pepperdine encouraged us to use their own proprietary one) Within just a few years a thumbprint or word (not the word itself – but your unique vocal chords) will activate your account, a public account (you set the limits) available to anyone and subscribable. Another hint that google is going in this direction is that now you have the ability to put your name in your google homepage URL (i.e. I could make my google homepage igoogle.com/andrewlong instead of http://www.google.com/ig) Facebook is also making its pages publicly viewable by non-members (but members control what information can be seen by whom) and transitioning to customized URLS (i.e. facebook.com/andrewlong instead of facebook.com/ad35hga#w27%^34).
Okay, enough for now. I doubt anyone made it all the way down here anyway…