Facebook has really been in the news a lot lately – first it was touted as the single most effective communications tool for sharing information about the Virginia Tech shootings. Then it was in the news again because the Ontario provincial government is blocking Facebook access from government computers (A good thing, I say. Our tax dollars are supposed to be paying people to work, not socialize.) Even Stéphane Dion has a Facebook page (must remember to invite him to be a friend) and Stephen Harper is considering it, except having NO friends in cyberspace probably wouldn’t look too good on his resume.
Even before all of this, Facebook kept being mentioned by all my twenty-something acquaintances, so I had to check it out.
The minute I started the sign-up process, I knew I was in the wrong place. I was the guy showing up at a nudist resort in a three-piece suit! Everything about the page screamed “Go away! You’re too old! You won’t get it!” and I’m afraid they’re right. Clearly designed by twenty-year-olds for twenty-year-olds, the entire communications paradigm is foreign to me; I mean, who would have thought people would want everybody in the world to be party to their conversations, know who they know and where they met them, and look at their personal photo albums? Some things are best kept behind closed doors, I say.
But as the expression goes, in for a penny – in for a pound, and so I persevered and set up my profile and joined my first network. That’s when I got the “You have no friends in Ottawa, ON." message, and just to make the point even more painful, "There are 104,841 people in the Ottawa, ON network.” So here I was, friendless among 104,841 people (or maybe it was only 104,840 if I was included in the count) and feeling pretty down about the whole thing. Oops - "down" means up, right? As in, I'm down with that meaning it's ok. Right? Never mind, let's just say I was kinda pissed. But then a helpful little wizard showed me how to find friends (in facebook lingo) and I was off. Now I have friends I’ve never heard of in places I’ve never been to. I know all the names of all my new friends’ friends. I get dozens of emails telling me about everything my newest closest friends are doing online. And I get friends poking me all the time, as if I need to be prodded periodically to stay awake at the keyboard. Well, maybe I do, but no need to keep doing it!
Yup, I’m now on Facebook , which gives me yet one more means of communicating with the world in addition to 5 email addresses, Microsoft Live Messenger, Microsoft Live Spaces, Google, a cell phone, two land lines, and a pair of semaphore flags. Life really was simpler when everything anybody wanted to tell me came once a day, through a slot in my front door, and heaven help anybody who read my mail.