Do I feel outmoded writing about Facebook? More than a little, yes. Because really…who cares anymore? Well, I guess I do. You see, I started using Facebook in 2009 at the behest (and request) of a very dear friend. It was still all over the news then as the “new” (though not really) and “hottest” way to keep up with all your friends. What has it become since then? A social media giant? An advertising mecca? The “new” and “hottest” thing to quit? I really don’t know anymore.
I think my use of Facebook is follows a pretty common path among, at least, my FB friends – it has definitely ebbed and flowed with the times. When I first signed up, I updated my status every day, I quickly responded to requests, and I sent and accepted friend requests without a moments hesitation. I enjoyed reading through the feed to see what people were up to, from close friends to those with whom I had lost contact and were now connected. I “participated” as people got married, bought houses and cars, had kids, and grew up and into life. It was fun, interesting, and it really felt social.
Things changed about a year into my escapade, and it had nothing to do with one of a bazillion layout/privacy/accessibility changes that would eventually happen to Facebook over the years. At work, discussion about the use of social media began to happen. In the course of talking with other, older colleagues about using Facebook, I was often asked, “why do I need to use Facebook?” To keep in touch with people – that was my standard answer. And the standard pseudo-arguments arose about how “young people” didn’t know how to interact with others anymore, about the death of taking pen to paper to write someone a letter, about how social networking was destroying people’s productivity.
Eh. Those arguments were nothing new and they never would be. But the discussions did make me think about why I was using Facebook. Did I really need to be part of its “always connected” scenario? Did knowing about people’s cats and kids and commutes to work make my life any better? And just when I thought that maybe Facebook wasn’t worth the effort, I got a request to play a game.
Hmm…a game? Yep, you guessed it. A number of my FB friends had been bitten by the game bug, and they intended to infect me too. Now I’m not a social gamer, but I didn’t resist the surge. First it was Mafia Wars, and then it was Farmville, and then it was another “Ville” game, and then it was Poker, and then it was Empires & Allies, and then it was any number of slot machine games, and then it was hidden objects games, and then it was …STOP!! It was all too much. Look, I had fun up to a point, but after awhile, when the games started demanding that I needed help from X number of friends to progress, or I needed to “purchase” X number of objects from the store to get a necessary item, I simply had to disconnect.
But I never really disconnected.
Though I stopped playing most games on a regular basis, I didn’t stop trying to connect with people as best I could. And then things started getting…different? Weird? I’m not sure of the right term. I have a decent number of Facebook friends, but only a few of them actually use the site regularly. (This seems to be pretty common among those that use or lurk on Facebook.) My feed became engorged with memes and family pictures and political tirades and cries for help. I know that there are now ways to parse out your friends so that some statuses appear more frequently than others. And I know that I’ve probably screwed around enough with the sites settings that some people I think might have deleted their accounts are still really there, but I’m just not catching their updates in an around all the gunk. It’s very jarring to see status about someone’s bout with depression followed by an ad from Macy’s about the latest fashion fads followed by someone’s rant about bad drivers.
My Facebook has become a desolate landscape of mostly blog posts and the occasional cat and/or garden pictures, and rarely do I use it to say something about myself because, frankly, I just don’t know what to say anymore. I try every now and then, and people do respond, which is always nice, but it’s not like it used to be. Facebook has become a useful tool for keeping up with other blogs and sites, but honestly, it’s so much easier for me to do that through Twitter. I used to have fun checking my feed each morning to see what people were up to. Now it’s an exhausting slog through a parade of propaganda. Maybe I should take more time to mess with those settings, see if I can’t hide some of those less-than-savory items from my feed.
Or maybe I should just use that time to put pen to paper…