Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook: I joined. Happy now?

My wife cajoled me to do so, and when I logged on to AOL this afternoon, weary in body and mind after work and commute, they had a list of what I take's a standard 25 do's & don'ts regarding Facebook. I had never seen it, but I read about it and then joined a few minutes later. It reminds me of being shoved into a dinner party or, as my wife wrote well on her blog about last weekend, her college commemoration (not quite a reunion).

As for my college, I checked it out and found over 130 grads my year, about an eighth of the class, were signed up. I scanned the photos, noting first of all atop the list a dance major from San Bernardino who hung around with my freshman year roommate-- same major. He was a classmate with Barry O. at Punahou, who then dropped out of LMU after his first year. I never knew she graduated, but I wasn't exactly part of the drama queen crowd. I did find one old friend who I felt bad about when I lost his wedding invitation-- he's now in Montgomery, Alabama. A few other faces I dimly recalled, likely fewer now who'd recognize me. I sent no requests thither; I'd be surprised if I get any from those I started with thirty years ago this autumn. Unless they're the types desperate to add "friends" who aren't or weren't. As I suspect some may be, extroverts whom I never befriended.

As for the two grad schools, there's little to no chance due to their size, breadth, and anonymity for joyous jaunts down any memory road there. Potentially thronged with what my UCLA prof deemed in we English doctoral candidates as "neurotic egotists," I doubt if either campus path I trod for over a lonely decade towards my "advanced degrees" will entice me back. It was a difficult time and if I had not met my wife halfway through, lost in a dark wood even earlier than Dante's midway point, I'd have been devoured by the prowling panthers and thorny thickets forsooth.

If I want to leave the "selva oscura" for brighter slopes on my own journey down life's middle age, the problem is that my e-mail's linked to my lesser-used address that I reserve for blogging and net contacts; there's hardly any names in that file for contacts. I figure more exist. Yet, as Facebook's keyed only to your own log-in e-mail rather than multiple accounts to investigate contacts, this seems either a wise limit or a puzzling drawback to searching your potential minglers in cyberspace.

Already, the third person on my very short list, who kindly commented on my blog a month or two ago and whom I contacted, has a tremendous number of updates. He contacted me minutes after I sent my request, and now I am the second person he knows with my all-too-common first and last names. On the other hand, this anonymity of mine is countered by the middle name I despise, and that initial suffices, as it had to in college to distinguish me from the other two men with my same first and last names there. At least they have not popped up in my class, yet, on Facebook!

I'm not sure I want every person I vaguely know to be added as a friend, as this updating and Twittering will soon overwhelm us all. However, my dear spouse urges me to network, so for a wallflower like me this is less painful than small talk face-to-face, much as I might like you in theory or practice. No offense. Read Jonathan Rauch's "Caring for Your Introvert" for more on my predilection (not a lifestyle choice!). Still, if you thrive in Facebook's realm and wonder why I have not chosen you, here's my profile: "Facebook me!"

P.S. Hosting ads frosts me; I refuse them on this blog, but Facebook's did aim well by targeting me accurately. An hour after I listed Fairport Convention as a musical pick, there's an image hawking "Swarb" t-shirts on the right of my homepage. I'd never wear one let alone buy one (I look scrawny in t's) but a market research bot's earning its keep for some diligent hippie-turned-techie from Cropredy adjacent.

P.P.S. I wanted a picture for this blog entry, but not a boring Facebook badge with my boring first and last names. Luckily, Chris sent his shot to grace my Wall as a reminder of the fine time on a blustery day we had-- Bob next to me, sensibly capped. Bad hair day for me, as I'm still wearing my fancy purple dress shirt from the literary conference at NUI Galway earlier that afternoon five years ago this summer-- on the gusty western shore of Lough Corrib, Uachtar Ard/ Oughterard, Co Galway/ Gaillimh, next door staying facing the hotel where Layne and I had fifteen summers before nearly to the day dormed near Leo the dog (cue heavy Teutonic accent of old duffer) "get him avay, he smells, he stinks"... pre-boy Leo.


Layne said...

Facebook requires about 30 seconds a week. Sometimes is mildly amusing. Besides, I keep getting notes from them saying, "You suggested this friendship" and that just makes me glow. I love the picture of you and Harry. Neither of you look scrawny in a t-shirt.

Fionnchú said...

I commented on your blog simultaneously to you for mine. Is that cool or what? xxx me