I was on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) for my first year in college. It was my own little social network, before social networking was a thing. I could talk to anyone, anywhere in the country – a very useful thing when my friends went to Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Colorado, and several other states for college. I spent many, many hours daily on AIM, keeping-up with everyone’s activities. At about the same time, I noticed a severe decline in my grades. Looking back, I can’t draw any direct correlations between excessive AIM use and my declining grades. It was probably more a symptom of being in the wrong major, being 2,500 miles away from home, and all of the other changes that come with moving away for school. I cut the cord, and never looked back.
When everyone made the jump to Livejournal, I abstained. Instead, I programmed my own blog using Perl and the CGI provided by the University of Washington. I thought it was a more apt use of my time given my increasingly programming-oriented education.
When everyone left Livejournal for Myspace, I watched, but did nothing. The massive HTML-based customizations seemed like more work than it was worth. People also made some terribly gawdy creations with their HTML “skillz.” I still had my own blog attached to my website (it used frames; I was so proud). The primal hipster in me also thought that Myspace was too mainstream, and having my own blog was the smarter option. Maybe I was right.
Finally, everyone transitioned to Facebook. By that time, I was in a serious relationship. I had graduated from college, and started working at a real company. My significant other handled our social calendar. We shared friends, so it didn’t make sense for me to get my own Facebook page. I’d just let her do her thing, and tag along. Much like getting a joint bank account, or buying a house before marriage, that was a mistake. I happen to be guilty of the other two as well; tales for another blog post.
It seems like Facebook has become the way to stay in touch with people. In fact, it might be the only way to do so these days. People used to stay in touch before Facebook, right? I think maybe they used carrier pigeons or… had an operator connect them via switchboard to Klondike 2-1-6. Or maybe people just had fewer “friends,” and could use snail mail, the telephone, and social gatherings to stay in touch. Maybe they didn’t know what everyone ate at that fancy new restaurant two weeks ago, but maybe they didn’t care. I can’t remember how friendship worked before “social networks” existed. Maybe I should google it.
So, I joined Facebook. I’m almost a decade late to the party. That’s okay; I have an excuse (see above). I spent all morning adding close friends and family – or, more specifically, sending friend requests. I guess it’s up to them to actually log-in and approve me. Presumably they’ll do this with a little brow-furrow, as if asking “who’s this guy again?” I added a picture, just so they’d know who I was. It’s not a very good picture. It turns out that I don’t have very many pictures of myself, and the ones that I do have are bad. I’m of dubious photogeniety.
The plan is to “not go crazy.” I have a tendency to really dig into projects. When I first started WoW, I was told not to get addicted. Less than a year later, I was a guild officer. A few months after that, guild leader – for five years. Facebook, therefore, shall only be used to keep up with friends and family.
- I shall not start playing “Farmville,” or any of those other crazy addictive games. That’s a hole I’d never get out of.
- I shall not post updates about every single thing.
- I shall not be a collector of “friends.”
- I shall not check my “feed” constantly, especially not while at work.
Well, maybe “shall” is too strong. I’ll “try” not to do these things; with great success, of course. The main thing is that I’m on Facebook now. I’m not suspicious any longer. So that’s a plus.