Friday, November 21, 2008

Facing Facebook

I did it.  After a year of putting it off, I finally joined facebook.  Clearly, I'm no spring chicken (as you can tell by my grannified expressions!). If I were in my twenties, I would have joined long ago without a second thought.  Of course, now lots of my own contemporaries (think late thirty-somethings) are getting active on facebook, and I predict that over the next few years, there will be many, many more people networking there.

And as enjoyable as it is, it's a bit weird, right? As you may have noticed, I have a tendency to overanalyze and dwell on things, so now I'm obsessing thinking about what I'm doing on facebook.

I have to say upfront that I like the networking aspect.  It's fun to catch up with people I knew long, long ago, and to see what friends far away are doing. But the "making of friends" is more puzzling. I have befriended people I only know from email, and I have sent requests to people who are more akin to acquaintances. I'm a word girl, and that word "friend" is so sticky.
I think I have a few categories of people I'm re-meeting on facebook:
  • People I love dearly, but are far away. 
  • People I loved in the past, but lost track of as life moved us from place to place.
  • People I knew in highschool (marginally, very well, or otherwise), and who I really enjoyed seeing again (or emailing again) at our 20th reunion.
  • People I just met recently, either through the blog or in person. 

Are all of these people friends? Well, as I'm writing this, I'm beginning to think they actually are friends... I do have connections to each of them, and so maybe "friends" isn't such a confusing term after all...

With all that said, however, I am catching myself regressing to high school insecurity once in a while. What if I "invite" a friend and they reject me? Don't remember me? Don't like me? Ugh. Why do I want to think like that? But I'll admit these thoughts have crossed my mind since I started playing around with facebook.

There must be some happy medium...

Maybe a facebook network is a like little neighborhood.  If you look out your window, you get a glimpse of what your neighbor is doing, from raking the leaves to having birthday party for their baby.   You might not be close with all of these people, but it's nice to be part of their community.  Some neighbors you invite in for coffee, while others you just wave to as you bring in your mail.   It's a connection, regardless of how intimate it is.

That's what facebook is, I think.   Even the most mundane updates of a friend ("so-and-so is getting ready to go to the big football game") is comforting in a way.  And keeping in touch is hard enough these days; it's nice to feel community with people who have surrounded you in various stages of your life.

I was just contacted on Facebook this week by my friend Kristen, a girl who falls into the "I loved dearly in the past" category. She moved away when I was in fifth grade, and I was devastated. Her mom had sage advice for me then, and I have recalled the lines many times since then. "Make new friends, but keep the old. Some are silver, others gold." Facebook is a way of keeping all those friends in one place--silver and gold alike.  Are you on yet?  Would you like to be friends?

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