I have recently started facebooking. (It's like googling; it's a verb. This is what my students say.)
A couple of friends and family members had encouraged me to join, and there are some things I really love about it. I love being connected in with the people I care about. That part is fun, since I have a far-flung family and don't make the time for phone calls and e-mails as much as I should. And I have to admit that the novelty factor of "friending" people who I haven't seen or, in some cases, thought about in years, has not yet worn off. The guy I went to homecoming with in 10th grade? Teaches math. The diva-with-a-heart-of-gold from college choir? Opera singer in Toronto. My yearbook editor from 2005? Loving junior year of film school and pestering me with questions about "Lost." That part is cool--the sense of network, of connection, of reconnection--it makes the overall experience worthwhile.
The parts that I'm uncomfortable with. Well, they are legion.
- The aforementioned people I haven't thought about in years? Well, they feel free to comment on my taste in books. (Hey!)
- Other people can post embarrassing pictures of me from college and tag them with my name. And current colleagues and family members can click on them and see just how much beer I drank during the Europe trip of 1997. (The nice thing is that I was such a goody-two-shoes that my hair in the 90's will likely be much more incriminating than any party photos.)
- There is an uncomfortable sense of being back in the not-cool crowd when I see the photos others have posted from high school.
- I totally overthink the status updates ("What are you thinking about?" it asks) because I have both a lesbian librarian and an ultra-conservative quiver-full Christian in my friend list. Will saying "friggin'" offend anyone? Is saying I like the show "Dollhouse" revealing me to be in favor of the subjugation of women? If I'm gardening, am I pedestrian? If I'm reading Lord of the Rings, am I a nerd? Basically--this all comes down to feeling judged, and being a sort of private person who also, ironically, loves to connect.
- How long will it be before a current student sees one of those pictures of me drinking the beer in Europe? How long before the worlds collide in ways that I can't anticipate??
- With all the time I spend connecting with former/online friends--am I neglecting the actual flesh-and-blood people in my life, nay, in my house, even?
We're in the middle of a communication revolution.
I read a recent blog post that spoke eloquently of how historians can look back at pre-printing press and post-printing press and see clearly how the advent of literacy for all (or most, at least) changed civilization--religion, politics, you name it.
What historians can't comment on is how it felt DURING the revolution--to be a leader when the power structure was shifting under your feet--to be a follower, unsure of the ramifications of new freedoms and industries.
By the time our children are adults, I think the face of the change will be clear, the implications for education, privacy, and government. But for now--it all feels a little katy-bar-the-door.
What do you think? Do you facebook? What do you like--or not?