For the two of you who don't know about Facebook, it's a bit like a college canteen that's online. You hang out, yak with friends, exchange gifts, music and photos, write graffitti, join groups - all this while bunking important stuff. In blogging terms, one could liken Facebook to the melee in the comment section of fun bloggers like Alpha, Smiley, Anita Rodricks etc. Fluff, fun and foolin' around.
Having been on Facebook and introduced several of my friends to the network, I find I'm beginning to enjoy it a bit. But some things have begun to peeve me lately. And since Facebook doesn't allow one to blow off steam, it's time for the good old blog to bear the brunt. So here goes:
Peeve # 1: Folks rush to add you on as a friend and you never hear from them again. Initially it was thrilling to find an inbox filled with friend requests - old colleagues, school mates, long forgotten college buddies, and I happily accepted requests, going so far as to customise a 'how do I know X' message. But few do anything more than add you to their burgeoning friend list. Well, if you had 150 or more friends, you wouldn't really be able to do anything more than click the 'add as friend' button, would you? And why on earth would you need 150 friends anyway? The 75 on my list make me nervous enough already.
Peeve # 2: What do you do after joining a Facebook group? You sign up with a cool group with an intriguing name - 'People Who Always Have To Spell Their Names For Other People' - but again, apart from joining the group, what else do you do? I mean, how many times can you get a laugh out of the time someone spelt your name as Leek Levers?
Peeve # 3: Where is the 'Facebook for Dummies' when you need it? I realised how complicated Facebook was when I tried to explain to a tech challenged friend how to access a photo album on my profile. It took me a few weeks before I discovered that clicking on the little 'house' icon next to the Facebook logo on one's profile unearthed what all friends had been up to. In excruciating detail. "X is now friends with P; R sent a flower to H; M has ended a relationship and is now single; V squeezed the pimple on his nose and some white stuff oozed out..."
Peeve # 4: Let's not even start on all the curious widgety things that make ones profile look like an overdone Christmas tree. It's not enough to have a Wall, one must have a Super Wall. A Poke's irritating enough, but one must add a Super Poke where you can drop kick, throw a sheep at and defenestrate people. (Defenestrate! You've got to hand it to the creators of that application.) Some of the widgets are fun, but you won't find me adding Vampires or Fortune Cookies or Fluff Friends or Pimp my Facebook in a hurry.
Peeve # 5: The online/offline distinction gets blurred once again. As with blogs where people get carried away with online personas, on Facebook people want to carry as much of their offline world online. So colleagues and neighbours get miffed if you don't accept their friend requests. I see you every day, for crying out loud. What would I want to say to you on Facebook? I even had a colleague ask me about a job on my Wall. Fortunately I hadn't added the Super Poke application or she'd have b*#@h slapped me.
Whines notwithstanding, Facebook isn't all as bad as I've made it out to be. One of my original motivations for signing up was that my taciturn teenage cousins were on Facebook. Long, impassioned mails returned with monosyllabic replies. It seemed the only way to get across was to join them on their turf. And I've gotten to see quite a different side of them. Not so much the sanitised, studious picture their parents paint of them but the wild, fun, adolescents that they are (and ought to be!)
Also Facebook helps rekindle that community feeling one experienced in college, at some workplaces and even in good old blogland. Sort of brings all your friends to the same party. Even if they happen to be clueless aunts or ex-bosses or friends who've only set up a Facebook account but don't know how to proceed from there.
Still, when it comes right down to brasstacks, it's Facebook, not face-to-face.