Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Inner Adolescent

This week I embarked upon the strange world of modern, teenage "communication" by creating my own facebook page. I could just feel the adolescent acne and enthusiasm for Bon Jovi oozing back into my being. First I created a profile - little factoids about me, uploaded a picture of myself.... then what? I sat there wondering what my "status" and "wall" were. Then, all of a sudden, by no doing of my own, my 20-something cousin, from San Jose that I haven't seen in years was chatting with me. Like a young child leading an old blind woman, he taught me how to "update my status", "request friends", how to "poke" someone, and of course, how to write on someone's wall. What I didn't learn was, what is the point of it all?

Communication has rapidly degenerated, inversely proportionate to the development of technology. Email took the individuality of handwriting and doodles out of snail mail. Texting took inflection, tone, and proper grammar out of phone calls. And now we have facebook that takes interaction to an all new low where you simply write words into the cyber breeze and people may or may not respond. And when actual words are too hard to come up with, you can send a virtual poke, hug, chest bump, tickle or drop kick.

So why join the digital non-gab? For one thing, it gives your self-esteem a boost every time you log in and five more people want to be your friend. Of course most friends just sit in your friend collection without ever interacting, like a box of action figures or a pile of stuffed animals. Others may share virtual activities with you like going to a movie, going shopping, playing a game of virtual dodgeball, or they can even give you a virtual gift. It's like having an imaginary friend who talks back, sort of. And while it is great to reconnect with old friends from highschool and beyond, after an initial burst of curiosity about marital status, location, and number of offspring, you are reminded of why you never really bothered to keep in touch with this person all these years. And back to the stuffed animal pile they go.

Well, I shall continue to keep my facebook account for the time being. I shall update my status that only refers to me in the third person and occasionally write on my virtual friends' virtual walls. I do enjoy sharing and seeing photos. But I'm not sure the connecting benefits outweigh the addictive hours spent poking and jabbing virtual friends as a form of communication that is just that - a virtual illusion.

6 comments:

Aimee said...

Ray, it's okay to secretly LOVE Facebook... really, it is. I won't tell anyone... ;)

Naw, I hear ya. I resisted the whole MySpace bandwagon pretty easily, and very, very slowly gave in to Facebook. You hit the nail on the head with this post... so many people on there are just into "collecting" friends.

I have to admit though, it has been a lot of fun reconnecting with people and finding out what they're up to now. Granted, we might not update each other on every facet of our lives like we might have in HS, it's still fun to follow details on old friends from a distance. At least, it keeps me entertained.

I figure I don't have enough time anymore for lots of phone calls & visits, but seeing updates on Facebook helps me feel connected to friends... even in a tiny small way... and reminds me why I was ever friends with them in the first place.

Everything in moderation, right?

Jillyn said...

PERFECT! Now I can add you as my friend. Hmm, how many am I up to now. . .? :)

Cheryl said...

The interesting thing about friends on facebook is that you feel bad if you don't add them. My son, Aaron, said that he was getting all of these young girls wanting to be his friend and he didn't want to hurt their little feelings by denying them I hadn't given it much thought until then.

I have enjoyed staying connected to friends that we left behind in AK. I got on because a friend asked me to check out her "web page" I was suprised that I had to sign up to do so. I had no idea what facebook was. The next time I logged on I had a bunch of friends!

Some of the things are pretty silly and I don't really get into them, but I do love Super Poke! Nothing says, "I am thinking about you!" like having a cow thrown at you!

Heather said...

I have avoided face book like the plague however, I just might bring my self to do it now that I read these posts. It scares me though. You often hear very scary stories of girls killing themselves all because of mean people on face book.

Kristine said...

You've inspired me to write my own blog post, refuting the popular idea that communication has degenerated. Because there's just too much to say for a little comment box. :)

However, one of the most fun parts of facebook is being the creepy facebook stalker... For example... Your friends list told me that you know Chris Okano. He looked super familiar in a facebooky way, so I clicked his name, and quickly remembered. He was in the ward across the street from me at BYU. He was in the same FHE group as some of my good friends, and I've heard stories! In fact, I've probably met him, because I liked their ward better than my own, and was an occasional visitor.

Yes. I am a stalker. But in a friendly way. :)

Happy The Man said...

It's like world of small talk. People tell me they're tired or they're going to bed or going to work. PLEASE, spare me the details. I had to minimize a few people. I'm not a big fan at all. My motto is I don't ask people to be friends. If they want me, I'll confirm (though some of them I was really not wanting to). My 2nd motto, no applications, stickers, buttons, quizzes, etc. I try to do quick 2-3 minute looks to see if there is anything new and interesting. In all honesty, I just don't place enough value on small talk to let it consume what little free time I have.