I have just joined the worldwide phenomenon Facebook.com and what a strange experience it is! I know, I know, it’s 2010 and I’m a little late to the game. The service has been around for years and everyone knows about it. I delayed because I had serious concerns about linking up with unfiltered people from every nook and cranny of the planet. News stories chronicling crimes connected with this site are all too common. Pedophiles and child bullies seem to love the place. But it’s also a fantastic chance to network, to promote your business and find new clients, to look up high school buddies, reach out to family members and generally create a charming community to call home. So, as a journalist and a student of life, I decided to take the plunge!
Joining Facebook is a bit complicated. As a new member there are a number of forms that must be filled out. Be weary of exposing too much of yourself. Privacy is a very vital issue today and you do not want to open yourself up to criminals and identity thieves. You should also have a photo of yourself handy, ready to be scanned electronically. Thankfully, some of the most private questions on Facebook can be skipped. Please take the time to read each question carefully but don’t forget to have fun! It’s exciting to ask yourself, “What are my interests?” “What sorts of people am I looking for?” “What am I feeling today?” So with all that done, I hit “return” and received a message that my brand new account had been activated and was now available for the world to see!
It’s like my first day of high school! All those new faces, all those clicks of people… It’s an intense little whirlpool of connections and popularity. Do I want to call up my workmates? Should I befriend my neighbor who is divorced and spends most nights drinking on his porch? Is it unseemly to accept some women in a tight shirt into my peer group? I love children and as a child counselor I am surrounded by them most Sundays, but is it right for me to be chatting with boys late at night across the wires of the internet? Leading the young into our temples of faith is a noble calling, but what holds them back from flirtations and innuendos? This is a tricky minefield, my friends! But it’s also delightfully thrilling! I have found dozens of other “Stephen” Billings online. I have joined Evangelical groups and Tennessee groups, and political groups and other groups that fit my hobbies, and I have shouted out to my Christian brothers and sisters!
Now I am waiting for the flood… I have 14 friends. Is that a lot? It doesn’t seem so… I certainly know far more people than that in real life. A few have even been so crass as to reject me (for what reason? Facebook won’t tell me). Now I’m waiting. Maybe a bit on the edge of my chair. Let me check my profile again. I turned on all my notification emails so I can be informed the minute something happens, a new friend accepts me, someone comments… But it’s a bit sluggish so I go back to my profile to double-check things. Why haven’t more people “friended” me… Plenty of my peers have hundreds upon hundreds of friends. I still have 14. That is a bit low. I feel a bit left out. This is sort of depressing me. I’m not a child but this humbling, maybe insulting. Who are you people? My profile is right there! Am I doing this wrong? Why aren’t people noticing me? Maybe I should comment on other people’s walls more. Those friend requests should be piling in. I see no little red icons on my profile page. Should I be worried? There could be a technical problem on Facebook’s end. Maybe emails are getting lost. I have heard that they have this problem sometimes. Maybe I should contact somebody about this?
This awful site is addictive. I can’t seem to go 15 minutes without checking on that silly thing. Any excuse will do. Oh, I wonder what Jack Gould thinks about my latest article? Has Sarah Palin posted today? When was the last time Marie Jon logged in? Gosh, has someone new seen my childhood photos? I wonder what ever happened to my old friend Carl in New Orleans… Maybe he has a profile… I’d love to see what he looks like these days, old Carl! And I’m back there in a second, logging in, logging out… This thing is addictive. All those little ads are annoying. Maybe that’s how this works. Is it all about the ads? Where are my friends? Come on, this is getting ridiculous. It’s been almost a day now that I’ve been on Facebook and I only have 14 friends. I’m not desperate to be popular or anything. I am a self-respecting person after all, but this is plain wrong. Do I really need the headache? You know what? I don’t. I am an adult and I respect myself. I hate this Facebook and I really have better things to do with my life. When I have the time maybe I’ll delete my profile. Erase it from the internet for good and all you people who didn’t have time for me will lose out!
Well, who knows. I don’t have the energy right now. I did put some effort into creating that whole whatever, clicking on those things. Maybe I’ll keep it up there for now, in spite of my better judgement. Maybe I’ll just keep it as my little foothold in the internet world and if good, caring people want to be my friends then so be it.