Archive for September 26th, 2009

September 26, 2009

Repost: Not Entirely Behind the Times

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.


Not Entirely Behind the Times

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I don’t quite know how long I’ve been receiving invitations to join Facebook, and assiduously ignoring them.  Things happened recently that made me finally break down and sign up, and so now I am a member of that community, having been brought in almost against my will.

 

I don’t know how active I will ultimately be over at Facebook.  I have seen some things there that seem to indicate that it is a place full of real opportunity — a place for reconnecting with old friends, a place for keeping up with family, and a place for making new contacts who might prove to be important to me in one way or another at some time in the future.  I see all of that, after having dipped a foot in the Facebook ocean.  It’s a lot like I felt when I first started blogging at a community blog site (now defunct).  There are some excellent discussions going on (like, say, this), and the nature of the site allows for so many different viewpoints that anyone who reads much there is sure to find a new perspective on whatever issue is being discussed.

 

But I also see here a spot for incredible levels of wastage.  There are so many games, so much nonsense to be discussed, so many loose threads to be pursued… how can you not waste time on the site, once you begin?  How do you keep from answering every tag, responding to every request for participation in this or that event?  How do you balance it all up?  I mean, I know you can block certain functions or users, but then, isn’t that somewhat defeating the community aspect of it all?  I’ve already used the “hide” option once, just because one connection was making updates and comments pop up on my wall every few minutes.  And that when I’ve only been on Facebook for a few days.  I wonder how many other things I will have to choose to cut out, to ignore, to hide, as time wears on.

 

When Facebook began, it was only open to students, and was by invitation only.  Since it has opened up to the general public, everyone — even me, now — has been joining.  I have lots of friends on the site, even after just a few days, and they range in age from about 10 to over 70 years.  What I like about it that is different from some of the other social sites I’ve experimented with in the past is the way I am connected on Facebook more with people I have “real life” connections with, instead of those I simply “know” online.  I think that is, from what I’ve read, the general appeal of the site.  I have, in these few short days, chatted with friends I’ve not seen in years.  And I’ve enjoyed that.  But I can also see how easy it would be to spend waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time doing this.  I can’t imagine, as a college student, how much time I might have spent on the site, had it been available two decades ago.  Honestly, I am glad it was not.

 

It is amazing to me how savvy some of the kids on the site are.  This is their world.  They know what they are doing on Facebook.  It is, it seems, their natural environment.  I, on the other hand, am somewhat overwhelmed.  There’s so much there, so many people to catch up with — so much that could be a distraction, if I let it.  But there’s also a huge potential for making positive connections.  It is, for me, all rather exhausting.

 

I’m not entirely behind the times, I guess.  I have, after all, finally signed up for Facebook, and begun exploring the possibilities it opens up for me.  I am also, however, not entirely up with the times.  I don’t do this naturally.  I do it because I think I should, because I don’t want to be left behind, and because I can see a glimpse of the world it opens up.

 

And of course, the biggest sign that I am not yet quite up with the times is the fact that I still think it worth talking about at all.  Perhaps one day, though, it will all become just a part of the mundane world for me.  And maybe by then I’ll have a clear idea for how to balance it all.

 

 

 

© 2009 Shelly Bryant

 

9 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Yes, I joined too, months ago, but I still don’t quite know what I’m doing there that I can’t do elsewhere and better but it seemed like something I ought to do. Am still resisting Twitter mind.
Sunday, September 27, 2009 – 01:00 AM
As authors, we’re told we really need to be on these social networking sites if we expect to “get anywhere” in today’s publishing environment. Social networking takes a lot of time, though, and it’s hard to see what part of it is helpful and what part is a waste of time.

Malcolm

Sunday, September 27, 2009 – 03:33 AM
Jim—
Twitter!  Now I really have a headache!  That’s another I’ve avoided with a very stubborn resistance.  I can’t imagine I’ll be willing to do that, but then, I never thought I wanted to be on Facebook either.  (I will look for you on Facebook, though.  Expect a friend request soon.  ….sigh.  How quickly we get into the routine.)

Malcolm—
It is hard to know when it is a waste of time, and what might be useful.  I do think there is the possibility here of informing old friends from high school that my book is going to be released next month, and that some of them might buy it.  I guess that would be helpful, and perhaps even (regarding Jim’s observation) that it might be something I couldn’t do elsewhere.  BUT, one part of me cringes at the thought that all of my friends from high school would know I about my book, and would read it.  I can’t imagine the response it might get.  And that is frightening.

Sunday, September 27, 2009 – 06:43 AM
Michelle
Muhahahaha We have you now.
I know what you mean though. EVERY thinking person goes through this when they first join facebook (and eventually twitter)
it’s kind of the “who am I, Why am I here, what is the meaning of life” phase that an android goes through when he/she becomes a sentient life form.

Anyway, Good Luck and enjoy. by the way.. we have wireless at our house now.. you can always come over with your mac  and play with me. we can chat on facebook while sitting in the same room  😉

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 – 04:49 PM
Michelle
ps. Ultimately facebook is for stalking the people you want to keep up with… without actually having to email them all the time ;o)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 – 04:50 PM
I almost feel like I am making the opposite journey, Michelle — a sentient life form becoming a droid.  Being so connected all the time…. we’re cyborgs-in-waiting.  All we need is the implants, and it will literally be 24/7.  Talk about overload.

Twitter?  Oh man, my head hurts!

I haven’t tried the stalking feature on Facebook yet, but thanks… you’ve given me some ideas.

Thursday, October 1, 2009 – 12:14 AM
silken
I’ ve avoided facebook too. though sometimes I do log in under my husband’s account, but then that makes him look bad since I ignore those wanting to chat w/ him, etc while he’s on ! 🙂

I hope to avoid twitter too.

good luck to you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009 – 06:08 AM
silken
ps-I did actually use facebook this week. dallas theater had a 50% off discount code to their performances of Mary Poppins!
Saturday, October 3, 2009 – 06:09 AM
silken, I think you can make it show that you are not online, so if you wanted to log in as your husband, and yet not chat, I think you could.  That’s one of the things I think it is hard to negotiate — when to engage and when to ignore.  In that sense, it is more like blogging at WU than at a site like this.  But still, I suppose there is always an answer, for those who are willing to just turn the computer off.  🙂

In the first couple of weeks of my surrender to the Dark Side, I have to say it isn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe because my “real life” is busy, or maybe because it’s really not that bad… but one way or another, I’ve managed, I think, to keep it all pretty well balanced.

Saturday, October 3, 2009 – 01:28 PM
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