Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Facebook Intervention

I love the internet. Seriously. I love it. I blog, I Facebook, I Twitter; I love it. I find it a wonderful little outlet of thought and idea. Since I’d be writing anyway why should I not do so electronically?

I also play poker; badly, mind you, but I play. I sit in on one of the longest standing poker games in Southern New Jersey. It is a group of interesting souls who make up the seven who sit around that table, including yours truly. We meet and play on the first Friday of each month. So, it was no surprise that on 8/7/09, that is where I was. We grilled and it was great. We played cards and that was a lot of fun too. And then came the intervention. After one hand of Texas Hold ‘Em one of my comrades told a story of his wife giggling about some piece of silliness that I wrote on Facebook. Apparently I had used the words, “good night”.

“Why… WHY, on God’s green earth would you say “good night” to anyone on Facebook? I just don’t get it.” Said the man to my left. The man to my left happens to be quite computer savvy and in some circles he is near the top of his game.

“Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense.” Said the man to my right. He is a brilliant man as well.

“I don’t have the time for any of that stuff.” Said the man opposite of me.

“Hey, I just got on to share photos with my family.” Said the man next to him trying to distance himself from yours truly in any way possible for the moment. He could see the tide turn.

“Yeah, you Twitter to, don’t you?” another asked who happens to be on Facebook as well.

“Yes, I do.” I said with a smile.

“You know what I think it is?” the man to my left asked. “It is just a group of people starved for attention. Look at me! Look at me!”

“Like a narcissist.” I said.

“Yes.” He said. So why do you do it? Why do you think that I CARE what you have to say?”

“Well, I think you can make a case for narcissism in some cases when it comes to Facebook.” I said. “But you would be painting with broad brushstrokes.” I understand that whether you care about what is written on Facebook or do not is subjective and up to the reader to decide. “If you don’t like what you read stop reading it. That’s why they make so many flavors of ice cream.”

“Then why?” Asked the man to my right.

“Social networking. It’s a tool.” I said. “Facebook is a wonderful way to be personably impersonal.

“That does not answer the question.”

“Look, I don’t have to tell any of you sitting here at this table how much I despise the phone.” There was a general nodding of heads around the table. They know (and now you do too, Gentle Reader) that I hate talking on the telephone. The contraption just demands entirely too much of my attention at any one time. I like information in digestible, well reasoned, bits – say in an email, on Facebook or on Twitter. It is simple; to the point, and just how I like it. “Facebook is a social tool. How the reader reads it or does NOT read it is purely up to them.” The simple fact of the matter is that’s the way it is with anything. I could tell you that there is a wonderful world to be found in the pages of a book but unless you pick it up and read one for yourself it is pretty much moot. People either will accept a message or reject it. The gentlemen on either side of me remain in a reject it frame of mind.

Oh well. These friends of mine and I just don’t socialize on Facebook. And the world keeps on moving. We socialize while playing cards and that is a good thing.

As for narcissism, “I” am one of my favorite subjects but I am more than well aware that the world does not revolve around me, my blog, my Facebook account or my Twitter feed. These gentlemen were casting aspersions that it did. Ah the power of the written word – even if it is electronic in nature. And, dare I say, even if those casting stones did not have their own Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Que sara sara.

As much as I hate the telephone I wonder how many people said to Alexander Graham Bell, “Why would you ever want to use THAT thing?” Only Bell knows and he’s not saying. I guarantee he heard it though. Fast forward to a hot summer night in 2009 with a group of friends sitting around a poker table some willing to use a different form of communication and some not. No matter what technological advance may come to us now or in the future there are going to be those who resist. Some will get it some will not.

Oh well. Que sara sara.

As for yours truly, Gentle Reader, I know enough about addiction to see that I have not yet hit rock bottom. It is only from the bottom that I can truly make progress and admit that I have a problem. Until then, I’ll see you on Facebook, on Twitter, and right here on the electronic pages of Chicken ScratchLONG MAY SHE WAVE!


Merci said...

I am considering giving up the facebook thing. I'm not entirely convinced that it's healthy. It can be mean! I got a notification that said something like "you must be popular - see the poll." I clicked on it and it said, "Your friend voted on who they'd most like to be seen in public with. What was their answer? NOT YOU!" Harsh. Of course, they then want you to keep clicking, find out who didn't want to be seen with you, give up the information on all of your friends and take their nasty polls. I think it's more social engineering than social networking. High School 101. I know that they gave the person 2 choices and, when that person chose their best friend or their significant other, facebook sent me that little engineered note to get me to participate in the game. Anyway, I'm an adult who doesn't care if someone chooses someone else over me, but it was still nasty of facebook to go there. And I worry about the impact that might have on kids.

Diatribe over.

mommanator said...

O wow. I totally agree Chicken! I love both blogging & Fb, I do it on my own terms though. When I want with whom I want and if you don't want owell-your loss I say!
Merci who would say something that crass to you of all people!now me I would understand! Couldnt be anyone that really knows you!

Merci said...

It was the application that did it. It gives a person 2 choices from their friend list and asks a question like "Who would you most like to be seen with in public?" The person selects one person, but BOTH people get a notification telling them about the choice and enticing them to play on to find out who it was that did or did not want to be seen with them. They know that most people will want to find out who chose them (or did not choose them) so they play the game and give up some of their personal information to do so. It's social engineering, just like some of the catchy emails we get that make you want to open them even when you know you shouldn't. They know how to make people want to look. But in this case, it's kind of mean and it could be hard for a young person to handle that.

Sorry, Evil Chicken, for taking up so much space here!

Evil Chicken said...

Merci – you have a legitimate beef. Take whatever space you want! Facebook can be a double edged sword. It’s like going out for the afternoon perhaps to a restaurant or anyplace where people gather only in reverse – we go out into the public and mingle. When we are typing away on our own keyboards on Facebook we are inviting that public in. I hear what you are saying and you are not alone.

Mommanator – Yes – it’s communicating on our own terms! I agree with you 100% on all of your points – especially with the idea that anyone who would say something crass about Merci could not be anyone who knows her. : )

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