For the very few of you who don’t use FB, here is a primer. You set up a personal FB account, loading your profile with as much info as you feel comfortable posting. If you are a married woman, consider setting your profile up with both your maiden and married name, this helps friends and classmates find you more easily. Be sure to post a photo, so that your friends will recognize you from others who share your name. Who knew that there are four others with my name? Then post status updates. It can be as mundane as “Beautiful day. Going for a run, anyone care to join me?” to a request to find a lost dog.
Your FB friends will chime in, everything from a simple “like” thumbs up (or down) to adding their comments to a growing conversation. FB keeps me in touch with people I rarely see. I hear about their kids, find out what they are doing at work and where they vacation, complete with photos and links. It delivers significantly more information than I would typically know about someone who was not a very close friend or member of my family.
This sounds a bit too personal? It can be. On its good side, Facebook helps deliver a level of intimacy that most of us don’t have time for in the fast-paced, hustle bustle of our lives.
On its dark side though, FB can bring up reminders of what it felt to be the last kid picked for the class baseball team as people compare their number of friends to others in their social network, or when they discover that they have been dropped as a FB friend.
And it can become personal. I recently defriended (this word we can now attribute to FB’s prominence) someone from my list who is a dear friend. However, we have decidedly opposing political views and I can’t stand seeing her updates and links to support her views. I thought nothing of it when I severed our FB connection with a simple click, until she mentioned that she guessed we weren’t friends anymore since noticing I had dropped her.
Then there’s the notion of who is a friend. Growing up, I was taught that there are friends (rules and conditions apply) and acquaintances. However, this is old school in the FB era. Everyone is a friend, unless they’re not. All one needs to do is to ask someone to be your friend and have them confirm the relationship. Fortunately, it only takes one party to sever (quietly and without fanfare) this arrangement.
For this reason, I prefer (the other powerful social networking tool) Twitter’s stance. They have dropped all notion of friendship (although some tweeters have crafted rules) and you follow whoever interests you. If someone posts too often or it is uninteresting content, you delete them. I find this makes for a more riveting exchange when social niceties are eliminated. More on Twitter in a future blog. Next installment: Using Facebook for your winery.