Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Face(less) Book

Against my better judgment, I've set up a Facebook account. Look for my name in Colorado Springs.

Do you use Facebook? What's the point? What are the benefits and detriments? Or, to use McLuhan's terms, what are the "extensions" and "amputations" of such a service? What do we gain from it, what do we lose from it?


Jeff LaSala said...

I do have one Facebook page (two, actually, see below), and also only within the last, say, 6 months. I still feel fairly new, but not so new that I don't have a good sense of it.

I find Facebook to be fairly innocuous; at most, interesting, at worst a bit of a time-consumer (but even then, not so much). The benefits of it will become clear after a while, and the annoyances are easily ignored. In fact, you will find that once you "build up" a network of "friends," some of them will use it annoyingly and send you useless time-waster requests. So long as you learn to ignore certain things, Facebook is ultimately harmless. I don't get the same yucky vibe from it I associate with MySpace and all its scandals.

You reveal only what you want to reveal. Just make sure, in your privacy settings, that Only Friends can view your profile. Even then, you don't have to put too much in there.

But I have reconnected with old friends and acquaintances, and it's been fun.

What Facebook isn't: a replacement for real human face to face interaction. But it bridges geography and gives you some communication you might not have ever initiated on your own. When Facebook becomes a person's only means of contact with the outside world, then that's going too far.

It's worth a shot. And in any case, you can always withdraw if you find it doesn't do anything for you. No harm done.

I maintain my own personal page. But I also created a page for myself as a writer (link below), where people can "become a fan," and that's really just for my writing endeavors, not my personal life. It's a good place to link to your weblog or your books, and so on.


david said...

Jeff made some great points, and I may overlap a bit.

Facebook is useful for allowing your friends (long lost, acquaintances, and current) to passively keep up with you.

They can choose whether or not they wish to visit your profile and see pictures from your latest vacation. They can choose what "news feeds" they want to get for their friends activities. For example, someone just changed their relationship status to "engaged" on Facebook. If they allow it, all of their friends on Facebook will see the update in their news feed. They can comment with a "congratulations old buddy" or whatever.

I mainly keep up with my high school and college friends on Facebook, but also a few of my cousins post pictures of their kids so its nice to automatically get an update.

There are some who use Facebook much like a blog, by posting "Notes" on their Wall which only their friends can read. You can also post links, Youtube videos, etc.

The detriment comes from young people who waste hours a week updating their status, music interests, favorite books, etc. It really is a huge repository of information about you. It can get out of hand. I created my personal profile and barely update it. The only thing I update is photos about myself, and I'll occasionally comment on someone else's photo.

An example of acceptable use: I changed my location to Denver and one of my old college buddies noticed the status change. He messaged me and asked if I wanted to meet for drinks.

Also, be sure to read Facebook's privacy policy. It is hotly contested and they keep revising it.

Robert Velarde said...

Jeff and david, thanks for the comments. It's been one day and I already have 50 "friends." Some I know, some I don't, some I have not heard from in years. So, I suppose one benefit is reconnecting with people.

As a whole, however, I still don't quite know how Facebook works in the sense of certain functions such as updates and what not. Do we really need to be so connected that we have up to the minute updates from people?

I'll post more as I try and absorb the experience some more.

Kevin Winters said...

Without Facebook I wouldn't have just learned that one of my cousins who has been trying to get pregnant for 10 years and had 3 adoptions just got pregnant! Like the others have said, it can be a time waster and you can get bogged down in applications, but it can be good too.