Facebook Phenomenon

I signed onto Facebook this fall.

Ostensibly, I signed on to follow the adventures of my niece, the first of the next generation in our family to go to college.

Soon, however, I was looking for other people to “friend,” especially when I noticed that my husband seemed to be friending everyone he knew in college and half his high school class.

I also found former classmates on Facebook. I have friended only a few. It is too much like going to a permanent reunion. You could strike up a chat with that person, but how soon can you excuse yourself to go refresh your (very stiff) drink? My husband has learned this the hard way, friending folks from high school only to find out that you don’t necessarily want to know what happened to some people.

Facebook offers varying levels of privacy. In many cases people keep their profiles relatively private but leave their photos to any curious onlooker. Here’s where Facebook improves on the reunion: you can examine any old classmate you like in their photos, and they’ll never know you were even glancing their way. How are they aging? Do they still have hair? (FYI, my photos are viewable by friends and friends of friends only.)

It’s been a spur to look at old high school photos. This has been enlightening, to say the least. I graduated from high school in 1986. Use your imagination — you know how bad we all looked. But apart from the new wave fashions and God-awful hair, everyone looks so young and goofy. Not only are we not cool at near-40, we weren’t cool at 16! Which is to say, the people I thought were cool look just as dorky as I felt.

Twenty years of life beyond high school has taught me that anyway, but the visual proof is a nice addition.

Yet at times Facebook feels like high school all over again. Do I know that person well enough to friend them? Am I more of a friend, or a friend of a friend? What if they don’t want to friend me? What if someone wants to friend me but I don’t want to friend them? (For the record, I have ignored 3 friend requests, all from people that I don’t really know at all, from the past or present) Are the parents of my kids’ friends my friends? If I friend the wife should I friend the husband, or vice versa? Why does my husband have more friends than me? Why does everyone have more friends than me?!

Honestly, I just wanted a little additional distraction while sitting at the computer, but Facebook can put me back along the walls of a junior high dance: Is he looking at me? Or at her? Would it be weird to ask him to dance if we’re just friends? Would he think that I like him like him?

Only now I can ask those questions about other 30-something mothers. Because I don’t have enough to think about these days.



Filed under Oh Mother

5 responses to “Facebook Phenomenon

  1. Shaun, you are cracking me up! I have been on FB for a few years but only recently participated! All of your issues I can identify with. I select my friends very carefully! Happy Facebooking!

  2. I’m not on Facebook, for all the reasons you list. I could barely take high school then; now all that Sturm und Drang might kill me.

    On another note, I was down in the storage room before Christmas, hauling out boxes of Christmas stuff, when I happened upon my old high school yearbook. I sat and read for easily an hour, and came away amazed at how articulate and cool some of those nerdy friends of mine were. Their answers to “Where I will be in 10 years” questions were so hilarious, not to mention so incredibly witty, that I wished I WAS on something like Facebook just to see if they were around and what they were doing. But it was just a brief wish.

  3. I’m still recovering from high school and I’m in my forties.

    I search Craigslist for extra distraction. I finally found a very waldorf wooden kitchen for Cate and Si for a fourth of the cost of a new one.

  4. LOL. I meant to post to this when you first wrote it. I remember high school being like that but I don’t have enough time to care about Facebook that much.

    So that may be an answer for our kids, maybe if we keep them too busy during junior high and high school age they won’t have time for all the drama. That combined with homeschooling might make those years less hellish for our kids.

  5. I hated high school except for my sophomore year at my 2nd high school, an all girls school. But I was only there for a year and ended up going to four total. I’ve a couple of friends from my second year that I hear from via e-mail. I don’t know if I would ever have a reason to do Face Book.

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