My Mom Is Cooler Than Me

So yesterday I was talking to Dr. Rice, who told me that she'd just finally signed up for Facebook to see a friend's pictures this week. Then she asked me to guess who the first person was to add her as a friend, write on her wall, and welcome her to Facebook.

My mom.

That's right everyone. My mom is cooler than I am. Dr. Rice also added that my mom has lots of friends. When I talked to my mom about it this morning, she admitted to me that she wrote and erased her message to Dr. Rice about fifteen times, because she wanted to write something clever, but couldn't come up with anything clever, and she was crippled with fear because she'd just read an article in the Washington Post about how kids hate it that their parents use Facebook and add their friends and stuff. But really, it was talking about high school kids, not PhD graduates. After agonizing over what to write on Dr. Rice's page, my mom finally settled with "Welcome!"

I don't even use Facebook. I know that it's slowly taking over the world, but I reserve my right to resist that as long as possible. I actually did have a brief stint on Facebook. I tried it out for one week, and it was the most awful, agonizing, painful week of my life. Here are the reasons I don't like it:

1) It seems like it would be a time sucker. I have enough problems keeping up my blog and emailing people back who email me. If I have a Facebook page, that's a whole new thing that I need to maintain. And during my one week Facebook experience, it invaded my entire life. Every time a Facebook notification would appear in my email, I'd cringe. People were adding me right and left and I couldn't keep up. I couldn't imagine maintaining such a beast on a full time basis.

2) It breeds and grows and breeds and grows. Suddenly, during my one week on Facebook, I found myself connected to people with whom I'd lost all contact, or with whom I'd never had much contact in the first place. I was unable to reject people who wanted to add me as a friend---how could I be so rude? And then I became increasingly panicked about Facebook's ability to increase my chances of offending someone. What if I added them as a friend, but never wrote on their wall? What if we viewed our friendship differently, and they were so pleased to be reconnected with a long lost friend and I was not actually all that excited? It seemed to me that while most of the people I was more than happy to be reconnected with, there would come a time when people that I no longer wanted to be connected with would try to add me as a friend, and I didn't actually want to be put in that awkward situation.

3) It gives everyone I've ever known information about my whole life. At the time that I tried Facebook out, I had not yet met Murray. And as more and more people I'd grown up with back home were adding me as a friend, I couldn't help but think about the fact that of my age group in church, I was still the only one who was not married or in a long-term, committed relationship. And I hated the fact that anyone I'd ever known could look at my page and say, "Oh, yeah, Cicada. She's still not married and she's not dating anyone either. And she's gained weight." Because let's be honest. People say and think those kinds of things. I also didn't like that when people added me as friends, they could list their type of relationship with me. An old boyfriend listed me as "We used to date, but we're now just friends" or something like that, and I really didn't like the idea that people who I was barely connected with anymore could just look through my friends and figure out my dating history. Or figure out any sort of history. What if one day my professor added me and said, "I used to teach her editing. She never came to class and I gave her a D." (That last one is facetious, but you get my point.)

After trying it out for one week, like I'd promised a friend I'd do, I erased my account completely. They don't really allow you to do that easily---I had to email them and ask them to delete all my account details so that my account was gone, not just dormant.

There's a part of me that is afraid that I'm going to have to get back on some day. It's growing and taking over the world, and I think that I might not be able to avoid it forever. The new generation---those kids who are still in high school---value networks and connectivity. This is their culture, and it's spreading to everyone.

If I resist, am I going to be like old people who refuse to learn to use computers?


Jenny said...

I'm only on facebook so I can play scrabble online with Bethany. SO FUN.

TOWR said...

I'm with you, Cicada. I REFUSE REFUSE REFUSE to get on MySpace or Facebook. Not because I can't or don't know how, but for all the reasons you mentioned. PLUS I just read an article yesterday talking about how people are actually not getting hired for jobs because their would-be employers looked at their Facebook page and didn't like what they saw.

That scares me.

The thing that drives me the craziest about networking sites is that soon it's all people who have them talk about. You should hear people at my work: "How come you haven't responded to my message?" "Did you see my new pictures?" "Why haven't you added me as a friend?"


Together you and I can stay strong!

Amber said...

I put a picture from like 4 years ago on my profile (and no others on my page at all) so as to avoid the weight gain comments if at all possible. Don't worry, you're not the only one worried about such a thing. And I will say that in the beginning, what you said happened happens but after awhile, it wears off and there's not nearly as much activity on a regular basis. As for your other concerns, sorry, I have no insight because I have subjected myself to your said awkwardness.

Jon Boy said...

I'm with Jenny—I only joined Facebook to play Scrabble.

I can definitely see why you wouldn't want to join, Cicada. Luckily for me, very few of my friends and family seem to care about Facebook, so I don't have the same issues. But if every former friend and acquaintance of mine started friending me, I'd probably delete my account, too.

Murray Terreno di Amore said...

The thing I am surprised by is why non teenager/children would want to play around with all the sending "superpokes" and what not. Frankly it's a bit juvenile for the likes of me.

spart said...

I'm on Facebook (as you may or may not remember, as I had been one of those anxious people that added you as a friend that week), and I'm rethinking it also. I spend ENTIRELY too much time on it, I check it twenty seven times a day, and I too add people that I just couldn't care less if I ever saw again but have to add them at the risk of offending them (what if their personality has improved since high school and they're actually a nice person now?) *sigh* I just don't know what to do. I have to say I've reconnected with a few people that I've really been excited about, but I suppose if I'm being honest the ratio of people I want to talk to compared to the peripheral friends is not balanced. Maybe I should just delete it and get on with real life.

Jordy said...

We talk about this all the time in my ebusiness lecture series. I use facebook because I like hearing what people are up to, but I don't use the website so extensively that I'm texting my status every 10 seconds. ( I don't even have a cell phone, but you catch my drift). Anyway, it really is the future. Anybody looking to do some sort of on-line start up has to figure someway of making the content user driven. blah blah blah...

Tom Finnigan said...

Facebook isn't the first social networking site, and it won't be the last - it will eventually go the way of all social networks, because of the problems you've mentioned with friends list and etiquette. Eventually people's lists will be so crufted up that they won't want to use them any more.

They could probably fix most of the problems by automatically determining the friends list by who you contact the most, but that seems like such a huge headache and invasion of privacy.

In any case, I think a blog and email (maybe some twitter or other IM?) is plenty to network socially with others. Plus, you actually control your own data, you can change it, you can delete it, etc.

petit elefant said...

I only really use it to see photos of people I see on a regular basis. Does that defeat the point? And Viktor trolls my account on a regular basis and changes my relationship with El Senor from "friends" to "we used to date but it's complicated" on a regular basis. Also, he makes me "Jewish" or "Scientologist" in the religion department. So I guess it's really a losing battle for me. But now I'm totally going to add your mom!

AzĂșcar said...


Facebook, no. Sorry, no. I drew the line, and that line is Facebook.

Look, I did Friendster and a half dozen other social networking sites. I reluctantly did MySpace. So, Facebook? No. I draw the line. It's just one more thing, one more anonymity buster that I don't want or need. In two-three years it will be as dead as Friendster.

I think there is a difference in refusing to participate because you are a Luddite, and refusing to participate because you don't want to.

(p.s. MySpace officially died when my mother-in-law sent me a friend request. O-V-E-R.)

N.F. said...

To #1 - I can attest that it IS a time sucker. My lack of blog posts can prove it.

To the thing you mention regarding people who request to add you - there is a privacy thing about that.

To what TOWR says about future employers - I heard that same thing recently. That's why my f.acebook is private and only people I allow can see my profile.

AND, I'm addicted to scrabble on there. I love it.