Here's the Scoop: Sept. 23, 2009
Faceless in the new millenium
We spent the weekend with a group of folks who have been friends for many years. My relationship with most of these people is “through marriage,” as they were co-workers of my wife.
I have to give these people credit, they travel from far and wide, at least once a year, to renew friendships. I am always dumbfounded at how these people get around to visit their friends. I must admit, I’m not very good (read: lame) at keeping friendships sharp, even at close distances.
So, when these folks get together, I just marvel at the interactions and the way everyone picks up where they left off. It’s like no one missed a beat. And, in many ways, they haven’t — thanks to Facebook.
You have possibly heard of Facebook. It’s this sort of popular “social networking” site on the Internet that I invented with Al Gore.
Basically, people post photos and other personal information about themselves (much of which no one should ever know about) and they put it out there for the world to view. I have noticed that police officials find this stuff useful when asking “Why?” after a crime has been committed. Other than that, I don’t really see the attraction of Facebook. Unless, embarrassment on a wide scale is one’s goal.
Because many of the friends at these reunions have a decade or two less earthly experience than my wife and I, they treat Facebook sort of like a cyberspace chain letter. Naturally, they felt we were “out of the loop” by not having a Facebook page. Silly me, I thought we just didn’t see the point of putting pictures on display for the world.
You’re not invited Sorry
It was quickly explained, of course, that one has the option of keeping their Facebook account private, with only “invited” guests getting the privilege of viewing your Egomania.
“Gotta watch out, though, there are tons of stalkers and whackos out there,” was pretty much the line echoed by all the Facebookers. “You can’t let them in.”
I explained that by not having a Facebook page, I can pretty much ensure that my profile is kept whacko-free.
“I prefer to deal with whackos in real life,” I pointed out.
Naturally, the crowd accused me of being old-fashioned (or was it just plain old?). Didn’t I want to have all the stupid stuff that I’ve done, thought, and photographed posted on the Internet for the entertainment of my friends?
But this crowd was not to be swayed. The entire weekend was filled with Facebook chatter and viewings of silly things that people (everyone but my wife and I) had posted on their pages.
I wasn’t getting angry, but this pressure was becoming a bit annoying. Finally, I had to respond to the assembled Facebook Faithful.
“Well, aside from the thrill of all your friends either being bored with the details of your life or making fun of them, what else do you get from Facebook? Do you make money from it?”
This group of anti-capitalists said that such things weren’t important. It was keeping in touch with their friends that mattered.
I then explained that I have been paid for many years for detailing the real and imagined events of my life in a weekly newspaper column.
“So, I have a caricature of myself and lots of stupid stuff in my column. And, since the paper is now online, I guess it’s just like having a Facebook page — with thousands of paying subscribers. And, did I mention that I get money for the column? Glad I haven’t been giving this stuff away all these years.”