So yeah, I'm on Facebook. Is there anyone who is NOT on Facebook these days? Ditto for Twitter. And MySpace. And LinkedIn. And Plaxo (but only because other people I know kept sending me requests to join because THEY were using it).
And what I want to say right now about these so-called "social networking" sites is this:
STOP THE FREAKING INTERNET... I WANT TO GET OFF!
These sites, and others like them that keep cropping up nearly every week (it seems to me) are making me nuts. Don't get me wrong, I have been a big fan of the Internet since the beginning of it, way before most people were even aware the World Wide Web existed. I have made a damn fine living off the Internet in one way or another since 1992. I'm what you might call a "power user" of the Internet, having been a web developer for a long time. I've booked vacations, shopped online, and made good friends via the Internet... and best of all, the Internet is how I met my wonderful husband. So the Internet is a part of my life and I barely remember what life was like before it came along.
That being said, these social networking sites are sucking up a TON of my time lately. In the past 48 hours for example, I have been Facebook-befriended by no fewer than FIVE different people I used to be friends with in high school. Plus a few people I wasn't really friends with but whom I remember. And at least one person who is a complete stranger to me. Every time I change my status, I get emails if other people who are my Facebook friends comment on that status. I am DROWNING in Facebook emails all of a sudden.
Then there's Twitter, which I'm told is a way to drive traffic to your blog or web site as well as a means of keeping up with what your friends are up to. Except since I'm here in France, Twitter won't (or can't) send me SMS messages or email messages to tell me if my friends post anything, so unless I remember to visit my page at Twitter I have no idea what my friends are doing. And I have to go out of my way to send out Twitter posts online because if I try sending them via SMS, I have to phone a number in the U.K. which costs money. Oy!
I barely use MySpace but I set up a page there back when it seemed THAT was the site to join, but now it seems Facebook has blown MySpace to hell and back again. So I don't know what to do with my page there. I also get emails regularly from both LinkedIn and Plaxo telling me this or that "connection" has posted something new, etc. etc. blah blah yada yada.
I am feeling like a bad "connection" now because every time I get more email from one or more of these sites, instead of it making me want to spend time socializing with the people I'm connected to, it often makes me want to run screaming from the computer and hide in a dark closet with no WiFi access. So no one can find me. Ever again. Unless of course they want to send chocolate (and I mean REAL chocolate, not those fake Facebook "oh someone sent you chocolate" chocolates).
It was different when I was a single gal and had all the free time in the world to spend online if I wanted to, but my life just isn't like that anymore. Time being at a premium these days, I would rather go back to the "dark ages" of social networking... you remember, like when you used to pick up a telephone (one with a cord) and dial it and actually TALK to your friends? Or when you used to go out and meet a friend for coffee, or dinner, or a movie? Whatever happened to having a real face-to-face conversation? Are we turning into the robot-like beings the sci-fi films (and Wall-E) have been imagining for decades, people who can't function without the help of modern technology?
I am worried that my friendships are going to be reduced to nothing more than the occasional SMS. Or that I am going to lose my ability to form complete sentences when I speak because my vocal cords will have shrivelled up from lack of use. Not to mention I may lose my ability to even THINK in English at all because I'm immersed in French on a daily basis.
The worst part, I think, of these social networking sites is that I am afraid I will be thought of as rude if I (a) refuse a request to connect to someone, even someone I know, or (b) if I delete an existing connection to someone to try and pare down how many people I am connected with, and ease the information overload. The guilt is giving me a headache.
If you will excuse me now, I have to go and sift through the latest 20 or so new Facebook, et al messages I seem to have received since this morning when I checked my email. Good thing I live no where near the Eiffel Tower... I might be tempted to climb up there and jump, just to end the agony.