it’s complicated, so they breakin’ up or what


I’m going to have to admit something here: I’m doing Facebook wrong. If you look at any web stats over the last two years, you’ll see that Facebook is no longer just an interesting part of the internet, it is the internet. It’s such an integral part of American life that I doubt any business in the world, no matter how priggish and stuffy, has the balls to block their employees from using it all day. It’s not oxygen; it’s the lungs.

This may change, of course, and perhaps someone is reading this from the future thinking how quaint it all is, but in 2011 dollars, this is our Model T, our Volkswagen Beetle, our Cabbage Patch Kid.


very big in 1983

And yet, I just don’t possess the addiction. I don’t have that mid-cerebrum inkling to check in every hour, nor really, every day. I’m well-versed in how to use social media to any end you’ve got cooking, but my own proclivities make me keep a little distance. Frankly, I feel like it’s a massive party full of the most wonderful people in the universe, but I can’t make myself want to go.

I adore seeing pictures of all of you, and I’ve happened into the odd discussion on two. I’ve chatted with friends from Hamburg to Carrboro, and these days, if I don’t crosspost the blog to Facebook, people think I’m camping on Uranus. But it always seems like… I dunno, work?

True, most of the younger demographic is using FB to further their romantic lives, whether or not they’re even aware of it. The intense social craziness that used to exist on little notes by the kitchen phone now exist in status updates, flirting is done via chat and text, and the party (and directions) is an event-click away.

But plenty of you are well past needing to pick up a fifth of Jägermeister for the Kappa Sig hall crawl, and still engage in meaningful discussion, and keep your friends afloat with wonderfully positive little missives, and the occasional “like”. I suppose my question is simple: I don’t mean this to be patronizing, nor judgmental, but I’d be interested for y’all to intellectualize why Facebook has become what it became for you.

0 thoughts on “it’s complicated, so they breakin’ up or what

  1. Alyson

    Because it’s like reading the news, except all the politicians and heroic firefighters and people with too many cats and freedom fighters and people who sail around the world are all people you know. It’s like reading people’s Christmas letters if they were filled with actually interesting things, like what kind of cake they’re learning to make or why they love their coworkers. Those are the things that make a real life, and they’re the details that seem to find their way to Facebook.

  2. Bozoette Mary

    I use it to keep up with far-flung friends – especially my son – but I check it maybe once or twice a day from my phone. See, my company DOES have the balls to block it, even while hosting a recruiting page! I KNOW!!

  3. Neva

    my husband doesn’t really get it either but for me it’s like living in a dorm again and I missed that. It’s the opportunity to once again hear a little gossip in from others like you once did in the group bathroom or just have a short discussion in the hall or the TV lounge without having to talk on the phone (which I hate) or think of an immediate and spontaneous response (which I also hate). It makes me feel like I’m still a part of my friends’ lives and connected in a way that I missed since growing up and moving into my own little isolated work/home world. Plus, I enjoy the immediate gratification of a “like” now and again. I don’t get a lot of those from other places in my life any more. For an introverted extrovert (someone who needs to feel connected to people but doesn’t really like to be with them all the time) it’s perfect.
    Does that help Ian?

  4. Martha

    I have, of late, been amazed at the connection I feel mostly with relatives that I usually had very little contact with prior to FB. I get to know their daily ‘haps but more importantly the big stuff happening in their lives. For instance, my cousin-in-laws who are fighting the good fight in Madison WI. It gives me a window into that event that I can’t get from CNN, NPR, etc. FB helps me feel more connected to others which on the face of it reminds me of a friend of mine who said she loved living in a high rise condo because she felt connected to the people on the street below. Yeah, right. But, for now this works for me.

  5. scruggs

    I like Neva’s description.
    I’ve always viewed facebook as the internet equivalent UNC’s The Pit. You can stroll through for a quick hello, or still find yourselve there an hour later somehow missing class (er, work, parenting duties, etc). You’re always guaranteed to get some sort of scoop. And sometimes, Gary Birdsong shows up.
    I work part-time, and from home, and I have a lot of little 5 minute pockets where I’m waiting for some data to run or whatever, and that is when I find myself popping over to facebook to kill time without starting something new. I love that most folks I’ve known at some time or another at least have a fb account so I always know how to catch up with them or just the little things they are up to.

  6. LFMD

    I started with FB to see photos of my nephew. Now that I have an iPhone with the FB app, I check in throughout the day. I like it for all the reasons Neva and Scruggs mentioned.
    I am a little wary about FB because I am naturally a hermit, and relying on FB for my socialization is not necessarily a good thing. I tend towards hermit-like isolation, and I like the idea of socializing without having to put any effort into it. I really need to foster my friendships in face-to-face real time, and sometimes it is hard for me. FB could easily become my crutch.

  7. Jodi

    I’m adopted. Being naive and keeping a wide open profile on FB allowed 2 half sisters to find me within the past six months. I love them.
    At my house, you do not denigrate, apologize for or make fun of the Facebook.
    And, it does not allow you to forward emails. Annoying sometimes but extremely valuable in the long run.

  8. Jason Savage

    i like to procrastinate, and I have suffer from a staggering need for attention. along came Facebook…….

  9. Piglet

    When I was younger, I imprinted on the song “Bob Dylan’s Dream”, which was covered on a Peter Paul 7 Mary album, where the singer thinks back on the first few friends he ever had, and bemoans the fact that he’s never seen any of them again.
    Because of FaceBook, I’m part of the first generation of people not to have to face that sadness. Almost all of the old friends I made at summer camp, high school, college, disbanded Usenet communities (Hi, Crasher!), those summer jobs where I really connected and bonded with one person for three months and then they went back to Omaha or wherever and we never saw each other again…they’re all on my FB account.
    Of course, getting to know the childhood friends who used to lay waste to shopping malls with you now that they’re fat and married and selling tax free municipal bonds isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy knowing they’re there. Plus, I’m not looking back with angst like Bob Dylan.
    I don’t play farmville games and I don’t publish my personal life to the world. In fact, my current colleagues at work are the only people I do not seek out on FB, and I use a pseudonym so that the clients and colleagues are less likely to look for me under my own name and find me being silly and opinionated and nonprofessional. It’s not blackmail-worthy material, but I don’t feel like being kidded or politically judged.
    I use the medium almost exclusively for telling jokes and posting links to strange or politically important sites. The soul-baring posts are for my livejournal blog. Most people I would message on FB are people I have better ways to contact.

  10. Anne

    I held off on Facebook for quite a few years, other than to snoop on my kids when they were younger teens. (They knew I was checking on them.)
    Several years ago I used my new Gmail account to set up a current FB page. The rest is history. I had thought I was one of the most “connective” people via the Internet of my generation (Boomers), but FB takes that to a new level.
    Listen, here’s why I love it at this time in my life: Facebook has unified what were disparate online “lives” for me. Both Real Life friends (from all eras going back more than four decades) and affinity friends I’ve made on the Internet since the 1980s (newsgroups and listservs pertaining to anxiety/depression, Star Wars, various bands, college hockey, places I’ve worked, dog rescue, my alma mater, and so on) are now in one big aggregation of FRIENDS via Facebook. I interact daily with them and they with me.
    Best yet, via my wall posts these friends from around the world and of various ages interact with each other. Several have developed new friendships this way.
    I absolutely love having access to this abundance of communication and friendship via Facebook — especially now that I am working as a freelance writer from home. Our kids are away at college or living far from home; my husband works and lives out of state and only comes home every other weekend. Facebook is a lifeline for me.

  11. kent

    I’m what could be termed a casual user of Facebook, but I do two things — my blog & twitter posts go there.
    I get more response on facebook to my stuff than I do anywhere else, which leads me to believe that’s where the eyeballs are.
    (and here’s a good tip — the plugins to push blog posts to facebook are awful, but there’s several good ‘push to twitter’ plugins. If you set up your blog to push to twitter, you can then use the facebook app to pull updates from twitter.)

  12. Megan

    I like what Anne said about it connecting disparate threads of your life.
    Personally, I’ve used it to find long-lost friends and then met up with them in person. I also use it to keep track of my far-flung extended family. FB messages have largely replaced social emails for me.
    Am I the only one who uses it for work? We use it to promote events to students (and others) who would never take the time to open an email message.

  13. GFWD

    I was gonna say that Nuggs and Screva got it, but the combos of their names just don’t work that well. So, I’m with Neva and Scruggs.

  14. Julie

    When I first got on the FB bandwagon, I would check in every chance available and I “friended” all kinds of people. Not randoms but basically anyone who would ask and I sent out loads of requests. Now two yrs later, I am on every few days or so. It may be that I am not allowed to get on at work and must access via moble devices (much easier with the iphone versus the berry). I really like to see pics more than anything. However, I am still awed by some of the re-connections I have had with family and friends from long ago. And one late night a few weeks ago I had an IM chat with a guy from high school that I probably had not said more than 20 words to          during the entire four years (me the bookworm, he not so much). I don’t know if that conversation would have taken place even today if it were face to face (although now we could) but FB does take down some barriers and sometimes for the good.

  15. scruggs

    Now, GFWD, it was also because of fb that we knew each of our families were going to Myrtle Beach the same week last summer and we were about to meet out for dinner!

  16. GFWD

    Scruggs speaks the truth. Our families got to meet and hang out and have a good evening over Hibachi food down at the beach. I’ve also been able to coordinate and meet up with friends when visiting Chapel Hill because they tracked my status updates and found me in a particular establishment sipping suds.
    Instead of bemoaning Facebook, I wonder how much more social and efficient it would have made folks from our generation in college. Can you imagine even having cell phones and texts and emails in college, much less Facebook?

  17. noj

    Facebook frokkin’ schmacebook. Kontain is all-media based and our community is interested and interesting…..and really tiny compared to Facebook. So maybe we’re not really competing with those dworld wominating Facebook jokers, but our small community sure has passion.
    Brought to you by

  18. Neva

    Scruggs – when are we starting our jug band on goin’ on Hee Haw? With a combo name like that I think we must!

  19. jje

    I’m a SAHM…and a FB addict. In my defense, even though I’m constantly on the go (except for the occasional lazy pj day) and meeting up with friends or other random moms in “mommy & me” classes, entire hours can pass without me speaking face to face with another adult. Or sometimes there are just situations where we’re too focused on the kids to have real conversations. FB keeps me feeling like I’m connected to other adults throughout the day. And it only helps so much – when my husband gets home from work, I often turn into Chatty Cathy on speed because I have So. Much. To. Say.
    It’s also great for keeping up with my other SAHM friends. It’s almost a sure bet that if I post “Heading to park/Discovery Place/CFA/etc – anyone want to join us?” that I’ll find at least one taker if not more. My circle of 14 best friends has a private board where we are constantly chattering and making plans.
    I like posting pics of my kids and saying funny things for close family and friends, and keeping up with their daily lives in the same way.
    My husband, on the other hand, is one of those rare birds who doesn’t have or want a FB page. I’m actually grateful – ons addict is enough in this family.

  20. Scruggs

    Neva, I see 2nd careers on the horizon for us. We’d have to set up a Facebook page to promote our band.
    And, yes, jje loves her some fb! ;-)

  21. Caitlin

    In general I love FB. I enjoy having an outlet for my random observations, quirky photos, frustrations, anecdotes, and passions. The back-and-forth chat with friends from all the by now many different phases of my life is fun. It’s great for me to have almost daily contact with my family members who live far away, so they have a sense of the texture of my life. There are people that I always kind of liked in high school but was never good friends with, whom I now have the chance to get to know better. One unexpected wonderful thing– I love seeing my friends appreciate my mom’s wit and banter.
    I am concerned about the conscious self-presentation that constant status updates bring, and the mental energy I devote to noticing and packaging comments just so. But not enough to do anything about it.
    I think your blog fulfills most of the needs FB fills for others, Ian — and here you can exercise your talents in a longer form. So I can see why it doesn’t seem that appealing.

  22. xuxE

    well if you are involved in activities or entertainment things where you need to “announce” events or make connections, it’s a good way to do that.
    i also use it a lot to catch tracks from dj’s i like. i also find really good parties because you can trace things you like as they branch off in other directions. so if i like a dj, and he spins at party X, then i can see who the promoters are for party X and i might like their party Y, and maybe it’s got another dj i never heard of spinning with one i know, so i can see who that dj is and what parties he is spinning at, what venue, etc., etc. i can get more information faster about the things i like and discriminate about events i want to go to. almost instantaneously really.
    to me it’s the evolution from when i used to hang out online on a bunch of niche message boards where different friends participated based on different interests or activities, but now it’s like all the niche message boards are connected into one big web.


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