I only joined Facebook because an old Web friend of mine from Houston sent me an invitation. It seemed innocent enough. Little did I know that getting invited to join Facebook is a bit like being invited by someone you vaguely remember from junior high to attend a party and then discovering they are trying to sell you Amway.
The sole purpose of Facebook seems to be getting other people to join Facebook. One could say that Facebook is the Southern Baptist Church of the Internet, constantly trying to convert sinners.
I have always been comfortable hanging out inside of blogger.com. You can be anonymous at blogger.com. Facebook uses your real name and persona. It is a stalkers paradise. Whereas you can google old friends and acquaintances until you are blue in the face and not find any trace of them, all you have to do is plug in a name in Facebook and you just about find anyone.
And once you start looking up people on Facebook you are struck by this compulsion to ask them to be your "friend." They have to agree to be your friend before you can see their profile and send messages to them. So asking someone to be your friend on Facebook triggers all of those old insecurities you had in school similar to being at a sock hop and getting up the nerve to ask the most popular girl to dance. Once you've made the invitation, you are hanging out there perched on the precipice of rejection.
It's not that you get rejected outright if you send someone a friend invitation. Facebook only allows you the option of accepting an invitation or ignoring it. So if someone doesn't accept your friend invitation you are left just wondering what is wrong with you. This isn't a big deal if the person you have asked to be your friend is someone you barely know. But it is kind of disconcerting when you send an invitation to an old friend you used to work with or go to school with, thinking they will be thrilled to hear from you, and you don't hear squat. I mean, why wouldn't they want to hear from you? Haven't they all been thinking about you every day for 15 years, wondering how you are doing?
Facebook teaches you the reality that most people you have known over the years and lost touch with, lost touch with you for a reason. More often than not, they didn't like you in the first place.
Of course, it is a two-sided coin. You get lots of people asking you to be their friend who you never really liked, either. And if you are a person who can't stand hurting people's feelings like me, you agree. One, the number of friends you can collect on Facebook is your status symbol. Some people have hundreds of "friends." It freaks me out because in the real world, I don't have to take off my shoes to count the number of people I'd count as my friend.
The thing I haven't figured out about Facebook is what to do when you have collected all of these "friends." I'm not really interested in the fact that someone is clipping their toenails watching Letterman while eating a bowl of Fruitloops. And I also don't like the idea that co-workers I barely know and wouldn't recognize if I passed them in the hallway have added me to their friend's list and are focusing on the mundane facts in my life.
So why hang on to my Facebook account? Why not just close it and fade back into my blog?
What and give up all of my friends?