New to this blog?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Uh, is he gonna be my friend too?
It was a moment of weakness, I admit. Back on the home planet -- the land of milk and honey, where the lion lies down with the lamb and.. well, somebody gets screwed, I guess -- I allowed my guard to drop. With my guns left at the door, I was defenseless against that one final entreaty to join the massed hordes of Facebook. Like you, I've recieved -- and ignored -- many such requests, and felt guilty every time. How churlish indeed to turn down the open handed offer to be a "friend"...
Undermined by red wine, my resistance wavered, then crumbled, and I signed up. This went against all my Luddite instincts, but what the hell -- "how could it hurt?" I wondered, staring into the glowing screen in my wide-eyed cherubic innocence.
I had no idea what was coming, nor how many "friends" I was about to have.
The tsunami hit fast and hard, flattening the door and shattering all the windows to paralyze my puny back-woods dial-up Internet connection. Facebook was created for the modern broadband era, not dial-up (all I have here in the boonies), which means I've spent waaaay too much time the past couple of days confirming "friend" requests and attending to other Facebook maintenance.
I was once told "Never 'friend' anyone you haven't met face-to-face." Although that was doubtless sound advice, it proved impossible to follow. I have no problem "friending" any readers of this blog (and if Steven Woodring is one of those -- dude, I'm sorry, but your name doesn't ring a bell), but when those names aren't familiar, I'm not going to sign on. No offense, but what's the point? If I don't know your name, then you probably don't know me either -- there are thousands of Michael Taylors out there*, of which I am but one.
Probably not the right one, either.
So now my Gmail is hopelessly bogged down, awash in Facebook detritus. This would be no big deal back in the land of wireless broadband, but with my horse-and-buggy dial-up, it takes a very long time to confirm this newly-acquired friendship status, one bloody request at a time. So if you have "friended" me (and I really hate this modern sickness of morphing familiar nouns into vaguely creepy verbs -- it's a linguistic version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers") but I have not replied, rest easy and don't be offended. Once the water has been bailed out, the door fixed and windows replaced, I'll get back to you.
And for anyone in my Gmail address book who received an unwanted invitation to join facebook -- an invitation with my name on it, that I did not knowingly initiate -- I apologise. I had no idea what forces would be set in motion the instant I signed on. If only someone had written "Facebook for Dummies" for me to read first (and assuming I'd read it), this all could have been avoided.
But that's our modern era, isn't it? No more secrets, no more privacy, no more hidden humiliations: now we just strip naked, bend over, and spread our cheeks for all the world to see -- and once you've seen one, you've pretty much seen 'em all. It's American Idol on-line, without all the weeping and commercials.
I don't know... maybe it's a great thing I have yet to recognize. Perhaps I'm just suffering from some form of buyer's remorse, and will come to embrace Facebook as another utterly indispensable part of life -- and how did I ever live without it? But right now, it feels as if something's been lost I didn't even know I had -- and now it's gone for good. Whether that something was important or will truly be missed remains to be seen.
On the upside, Facebook (along with its evil twin and Tool of the Devil, Twitter) have combined to accomplish something I never expected to see: they've made blogging look rather staid and respectable in comparison. For a long time, blogging has been regarded by many as just another form of narcissistic navel-gazing, but with the Facebook/Twitter axis lowering the bar so radically, blogging suddenly seems like a solid, responsible quasi-journalistic endeavor.
Maybe that's the secret to success in modern life: grading on the curve. We don't actually have to get better at whatever it is to look good -- we just need something else big to come along that looks infinitely worse, and thus drops the commonly accepted standards of relative quality.
Facebook, Twitter: mission accomplished.
So what will I do once this post hits the trackless void of cyberspace?
I don't know -- post it on Facebook, I guess...
*a fact that was brought to my attention in a forceful way by the LAPD, and will be the subject of a future post...