As my Facebook experiences grow I continue to both learn and get more confused by it.
The whole etiquette business of the great social networking tool is something that continually has me rather mindfucked, wary of committing FB faux pas on a minute by minute basis. That may well be the first time I've ever written the word, or is it words, "faux pas" and it's just my bloody luck that I'd like to use its plural form and I don't know what that is. Even the dictionary doesn't help.
I like Facebook, I should probably start out by saying that, lest you think this is going to be some sort of rant about how much I hate the thing and how it's ruining society and damaging the ozone layer. I used to think that it was a load of rubbish, that it was as evil as Dr No, with his cruel treatment towards Ursula Andress, but that was all before I was converted. These days I'm a firm fan and would probably happily start up a "we love Facebook" group on it if:
a) I had the faintest idea how to start up a group
b) The stupid but believable thing is that someone probably has already done so
d) Whatever happened to c?
c) ah, here it is.
e) ok, I've just had a quick search and there is one.
After some consideration (2 seconds' worth) I'm not going to join it because I actually think it's a bit stupid. It's like doing a survey at your local supermarket asking people to give information about why they never go to the supermarket, then wondering why there are no responses, except in reverse.
But it's also a bit scary. It makes me feel a bit like I used to feel when I was younger and getting to know my now ex Mother In Law. Any chap or woman who has ever had a Mother In Law will know how this feels. They may be a nice person, they may be warm, friendly and full of diplomacy, but you should never let your guard down. The important thing with MILs, not to be confused with MILFs, is to always tread warily, as if you're walking on jelly in your favourite shoes.
I've now got 74 "friends" on FB. This intrigues me, as in real life I actually have about 2 friends, that's if I'm allowed to include Theena, whom I've never actually met but have spoken to in every way except the one in which you're actually with each other, like in the same place. I've made contact with a lot of old friends whom I haven't seen for years and I've had a few friend requests from the most surprising of directions.
On the other side of the friends coin I've made friend requests to people who either hardly ever look at their FB account or have rejected my friendship. Can you imagine that?
I often sit at my desk with FB open in the background and will sometimes look at that thing that shows which of your friends are online. This bewilders me too. What's the accepted rule of behaviour about this? I'll often say a hello to someone but usually it's the men who respond. As I ponder on it I think the men always respond, it's the women who often don't and this is what I don't understand.
Maybe it's because many women go online and are instantly bombarded by men "friends" saying hello and they think they are being chatted up. Or perhaps it's because they have so many friends that they're always talking to someone else. I just don't know, I'd initially thought that FB was just that means for friends to keep in touch, but could it be that people use it for flirtatious things? My God, what is the world coming to?
I've decided to deal with this by not "approaching" women unless I know they're happy to chat. I don't want to get myself a pervy Uncle, or even a pervy friend, type of reputation after all.
Another thing I've discovered is that there's little consistency in different people's approach to FB. I mix with quite of lot of muso and creative types and fully expected every single one of them to be fully paid up FB devotees, but no, there's no pattern whatsoever. Some people whom I would think of as professional networkers don't even have a Facebook account but will be the first person to email everyone in the world the latest joke they've heard.
Others, the types who don't know the difference between a blackberry and a dingleberry, are on Facebook every hour and every minute of the day, with status updates that are as frequent as my own personal dingleberries. It's like all laws of logic have flown out of the window.
I'm enjoying watching the comments between some couples on their respective walls, little love notes and messages of affection one day followed by apologies and grovelling the next day after there has obviously been some sort of huge row. Perhaps about putting too much information on FB.
There's something very egotistical about some people's FB behaviour isn't there? Recognition, the evil thing that motivates so many of us to differing degrees, rears its very ugly head and finds somewhere to live on Facebook. If you're the type of person who does charity work purely because you want others to know how good you are then your FB wall is the perfect vehicle to shout from, not that a wall could be a vehicle, unless it was a lorry transporting bricks.
My relationship with A, my eldest daughter, has benefited from FB too. After the turmoil of being refused friendship by her, which hardly affected me at all, we're now "friends" and frequently chat online there. I've chosen to live with the fact that she overstates her age by a few years, that she and all her friends swear quite a lot on it and generally pretend they're far more mature and advanced in years than they actually are. It's amusing to watch, knowing that it won't be too long before they start to pretend they're younger than they actually are.
The fact is that it's a good way to have contact with A and for that I'm grateful.
There we have it. My thoughts so far on Facebook.
What about you?