A few months ago, against my will but
with the strong push of fellow friends, I decided to take the plunge
and sign up for a Facebook account. Here's the only thing I
know for sure about Facebook:
This mutha is maybe the biggest
time-suck since the Internet went mainstream.
I went ahead and set up my profile,
including a picture, some nice words about myself, odds and ends
about music, movies, blah blah, and then I went live. When I
was asked to "add friends" or "use the friend finder", I decided
that I liked having friends, so I decided to see who else was
officially "out there."
At this point, Facebook becomes one of
two things, assuming that you don't just set up your account and
then never use Facebook again:
A nice place to check up on your
friends, see how their lives have turned out, boast about recent
engagements/promotions/movie deals, and occasionally post a
picture of your three-year-old making a mess at the dinner
An absolute blowout obsession that
literally consumes many hours of time every single day...and
that's just during the work day.
I have probably, over the course of my
time with Facebook, logged on for more than ten minutes maybe five
times. Now, when I did that, I was on for a couple hours each
time, rediscovering friends from high school, going "Wall-to-Wall"
with people I hadn't talked to in years, looking at pictures of
people I used to date (to, ahem, make sure they turned out okay),
accepting friend requests and doing a little instant messaging with
friends like Alison "The Whis" Zawatski or "White" Justin Fromm.
I'm not caught up in how many friends I have, but I am intrigued by
the fact that most of my close friends don't use Facebook...and when
they do, it might destroy my life.
However, the lives that are really
destroyed? The obsessive Facebook user, the kind of person I
am truly frightened for as I watch their Internet time slide
completely into inane chatter.
While writing this piece, I got a call
from Tricia Barry (formerly Ocampo), a friend of mine who worked at
the sports agency I worked at right out of college. Tricia,
like me, is someone who didn't join up with Facebook at first, but
she also received a number of e-mails from friends who were shocked
that someone like her was "not on Facebook", akin to the rub that
you "voted Republican" or "had your money on the Nazis" when it
comes to social slaps across the face. Tricia, also like me,
had a good number of friends in high school, college and in her work
experiences that she kept in touch with, so it was a no-brainer that
eventually, she would sell out and join Facebook.
In November, Tricia signed up for an
account, and now she's on the site three or four hours every single
day. "I'm actually amazed that they still allow people to use
Facebook at work," Tricia said after laughing about her sick amount
of usage. "You just get lost [on Facebook]."
There was an article on the USA Today
website about this recently, and I think it speaks volumes about the
power of Facebook--clearly, companies have raised this issue with IT
departments about blocking it, and at most companies, you can still
access the site...too many people would clearly be inconvenienced if
they lost access to the nation's greatest time-suck going.
Facebook--so far--has stared down the barrel of the firewall gun
many times and come out a winner.
Tricia didn't say this, but it can be
implied by her usage--she is that second-level profile of FB user,
the kind of person that can be counted on for a number of gimmes
when it comes to overusage:
1. She's guaranteed to update
her status 30-40 times a day, mostly for no reason at all.
I have used the status update line to mainly throw a funny idea out
to the people, like my recent post about Kashi cereal.
However, the majority of status updates look EXACTLY like this (I
just pulled this from the feed on the 25th):
Wendy is running out for Chinese
Teresa is finally home. Tired
David had a great night's sleep!
Blair is looking forward to dinner
I am constantly amused by the status
update page; what I have learned is that I'm in the minority when it
comes to witty status updates! I'm actually supposed to say
Justin just got back from the gym.
Justin paid cash at the movie
Justin loves his nap time.
Justin set his alarm for 6:15 AM.
2. The hardcore FB user really
USES Facebook. Over the course of a week-long stretch, I
was invited to a dozen FB clubs, I was "tagged" in three photo
albums, I was asked to participate in numerous polls, I got "poked"
by two guys I knew at high school, and--no lie--eight people tagged
me in their "25 Things You Should Know About Me" write-ups. I
actually felt bad by the seventh and eighth tag that I hadn't
written one, since so many people kept taggin' my ass.
Look, I'll give the FB people
credit--there is a shitload to do on Facebook. Even if 99% of
it is completely aimless, you really can get lost on Facebook; the
amount of applications on there is ridiculous, and then you add in
profile browsing and instant messaging and we are talking the
difference between logging off at 9:30 PM and logging off at two in
the morning. God forbid you live on the East Coast and you
have a bunch of West Coast friends; yikes, just as you are logging
off at midnight in DC, you get an IM from a buddy in Seattle who you
haven't talked to in a while, and then it gets rolling all over
3. The hardcore FB user has a
FB page open 24 hours a day. There are a few people who
have been online every time I have popped open the application; they
don't even appear to be "idle." Now, some of these people are
like my buddy Tchaka (who has gone with the admittedly funny "Tcharack
Obowen" moniker since Barack took over), who is online 25-28 hours
every day. But, some have families, for God's sake! Some
have real jobs, jobs that require 8-12 hours of thought every day!
Some of these people used to have lives!
The net effect of Facebook? Even I
can admit that the tool is a good one, and last week I had lunch
with Hank Tseu, a guy I went to high school with; I reached out
because of a business reason, but it was really cool to catch up
with a person I hadn't laid eyes on in 15 years. It only
happened because we are both on Facebook, and that made it all the
better. I discovered a number of long-lost friends from UVA
and high school, and now, a few old work friends are starting to
surface, too. I don't have a need for most of the applications
within Facebook (social gaming, or group pages, or polls, or the
like), but just some of the pictures of people, the places they have
visited or their current families have been cool and they're all
cobbled together in one place.
I don't think I will ever be an
obsessive, but as a check-in site, Facebook is a keeper.
Random Bellviews, courtesy of Bell &
Longer Community Trust:
Wednesday nights at the local Hard
Hugh Jackman's versatility: $9.50 Show
Another year with no snow days: Matinee
The Georgetown men's basketball team: Hard Vice