I am on Facebo.ok, along with half the universe. I post the bare minimum of personal information on there. I don’t even post pictures, because I don’t trust it. (I have been told by someone in the know that while they call themselves a social networking site, all they are really there for is to gather your personal information whenever they can and then turn around and use it to sell you to marketers. I believe this, and nothing that they have done throughout all the various privacy issues has caused me to revise this opinion.)
Anyway, I enjoy it for keeping up with other people’s lives. It’s kind of like people who post pics of their kids on the internet—I don’t do it myself, but I get a huge kick out of OTHER people doing it. Double Standards R Us! I’ve reconnected with some people from my distant youth, and am able to keep in touch much better even with some of my local friends. It definitely has value, especially if you’re careful how you use it.
One thing that consistently causes me agitas is the whole friend request thing. If you were my sworn enemy in high school, why the heck do you want to friend me now? If we had a bitter, painful breakup, why in the world would I want to keep up with your life? If we barely knew each other, you are trying to friend me... why?
Now, some people collect friends like they’re going to get a prize for the highest number. That’s totally fine. Me, I try to have people on my friends list that I actually like, and would like to keep in semi-regular contact with. After the early days of my FB involvement (where I friended at least a couple of people I regret friending), I adopted what I call my no guilt policy: if I don’t want to friend someone, I hit “ignore” and feel no guilt. No "obligation" friending, thanks.
I had someone from college send me a friend request this week. This was someone I always liked and wanted to be friends with, but she was much cooler than I could ever be. So we were mostly friends by association-- through another person, D. D and I are no longer friends and haven’t been for ages, so seeing the friend request from this third party felt a little odd. We weren’t really friends, after all.
I thought about friending her, then hit ignore. I probably take the whole thing too seriously, but I figure as long as I’m consistent, it all works out OK in the end.
I must admit I’m glad I grew up in the days before FB and e-mail and all that. It’s never easy to be a kid, but it was certainly simpler before you had to be “friends” with everyone in your high school class. Oy. I suspect having a no-guilt policy is difficult, if not impossible, when you’re 15.