In case you are as out of it as I was until recently, Facebook is where everyone is connecting, how everyone is communicating, and how old friends are finding each other. About a month ago I finally got onto Facebook, and created a username and password I didn’t write down, and began setting up a Profile. I was surprised to learn that my Profile is not a picture of my side, it’s sharing my date of birth, my home town, my marital status, and my gender; in fact, everything short of my weight, thank goodness.
My profile finished, I was given the option of either adding a photo of myself or a non-descript silhouette, and since I couldn’t figure out how a silhouette is different than a profile, I spent two hours looking through old photos, the idea being to look younger than I really am. Surely, there are a few people that can’t take my birth date and figure out my age.
Finding no old photos I liked, I selected a photo nobody can use to identify me.
Facebook then asked me if I wanted to find friends. Now, I’m not a real sociable person but I feel like I have an adequate supply of friends already, and I didn’t know why I needed to find them. But I talked myself out of being logical and searched for someone I work with who says she’s on Facebook. Having found Alana, I wondered why I would possibly want to get online in the evening and talk to her or my other co-workers when I could talk to them during the day. Nonetheless, I bagged a few co-worker friends and set about finding more friends. Because isn’t that what Facebook is all about?
The next friends I found were my niece and my sister-in-law. These aren’t really friends, either, if you ask me, but there’s no accounting for relatives in Facebook. They, like my co-workers, are now friends whether I want them to be or not. I also found three cousins and an aunt and my sister, so I added them as friends, too. I sent “messages”–not emails–to my cousins and then saw that I could Poke them. What’s poking, I wondered? Is it like prodding? Like a gentle reminder? Or is it something else entirely? And is it wrong to poke a relative?
Since I was afraid to go poking, I set about finding more friends. I was, after all, only up to a half dozen, and in the game of Facebook, he or she that collects the most friends wins. Right?
In the middle of my search, Sue L. asked to be my friend. She’s a real friend, the kind that I shared secrets with in high school and never read as graffiti in the bathroom. I accepted her as a friend and sent her a message. Then she wrote something on my wall.
My house is made of many walls, as is the cubicle that is my office, but because of Facebook I now have an electronic wall that doesn’t look like any other wall I’ve ever seen, and allows other people that are supposedly my friends to write whenever and whatever they want. I’ve never had people write on one of my walls before. In fact, it was forbidden when I was child.
Luckily, Sue is a lifelong friend, so I hoped for the best that she meant well writing on my wall.
Exhausted by the very idea that I didn’t know what I was doing, I got out of Facebook and spent the next eight hours wondering what evil friend might be writing stupid things on my wall. And who was Poking me. And Commenting on things.
The next day, I got online and saw someone had sent me a message on Facebook, three people had sent me friend requests, somebody confirmed me as a friend, and somebody wrote on my wall. After asking Facebook to send me the password I created yesterday, I went to my wall and made sure it was clear of swear words and obscenities. Relieved that I wasn’t being sabotaged by my friends, I went back to my emails and discovered that while I could read a message from someone on Facebook I had to copy the link in the email, go to the person’s Facebook page, and send them a message or write on their wall. I couldn’t respond directly like an old fashioned email.
While wondering about the logic behind such inefficiency, it suddenly occurred to me that the first friend request was from someone that I didn’t know. I knew they were friends with Sue, and after spending a half hour peeling apart moldy pages of my high school year book, the name finally clicked. But being friends with this other person in high school didn’t click, unless one becomes friends by simply talking to someone once or twice. So I sat there for several minutes trying to decide something I never thought I’d put energy to pondering: to be her friend or not be her friend? Let’s see: not being her friend would mean . . . that she knows my home town and might get a thrill out of beating up somebody who’s Facebook picture is that of a snow angel. Confirmed.
So let’s summarize: I set up a profile using a photograph that isn’t a profile, I am asked to be friends with people I can’t remember from high school and may not have been friends with anyway, and people are writing on my wall when I’m asleep. I accept friend requests but don’t make friends, and if someone sends me a message, I have to copy a link to their Facebook page to respond. I can Comment, Poke, and Like and don’t know what any of those things are any more.
I was still in a state of confusion when I saw that Alana sent me a snowball. Tired, but fearful the snowball would melt before I saw it, I clicked on the snowball and discovered I had 24 hours to respond or she would win the snowball fight. As instructed, I clicked on a half dozen of my new friends, clicked on the snowball of my choice—a fiery snowball–and . . . and received an error message.
It will come as no surprise that Alana won the snowball fight. She probably has lots more friends than me, too. But by spring I’ll have Facebook figured out and a few more friends under my belt. I might even know who some of them are.