I've been making fun of Facebook and the army of status-updating, lurking zombies it's produced for a long time now. In fact, I've joked that I'm the last human on Earth who doesn't have an account, myself.
But Monday, I caved in and joined up.
In two weeks, I'm heading to Warwick, R.I., where I lived from 1987 to 1992, for my 20th high school reunion. The invitation, of course, was on Facebook, and even without an account, I was able to see the profiles of many of the people attending.
I had seen some of these classmates five years ago at my 15th reunion, and others, 10 years ago at my 10th. But some I hadn't seen or talked to in 20 years. A wave of fear washed over me as I realized that everyone on Facebook "knew" each other, but here I'd be, flying in from 1,048 miles away and attempting to introduce my wife to people who I just didn't recognize anymore. The anxiety grew and grew, and I realized it was time to drop the 'tude and open an account.
Understand that I had held off on joining Facebook for this long for a few reasons:
First, jealousy. I already have my own Web site (which you're reading right now), but unlike Zuckerberg, I wasn't thinking globally when starting it. He's a billionaire, and I'm still toiling away 14 years later with several fewer zeros in my net worth than that hoodie-wearing geek. I hated him even more after watching "The Social Network."
Second, I believe that sometimes the past is best left in the past. Not that I'm hiding from anything, but I've always thought that people I wanted to reconnect with (and vice versa) could find me easily enough. I didn't need a "friend finder," and I still don't.
Third, it was fun to smugly pretend like I didn't need another social media distraction. I spend enough time on Twitter, and really, I think 140 characters is my perfect creative wheelhouse. The open-ended oversharing possibilities of Facebook seemed like they might be too excessive.
Three days in, I think they are.
I can't tell you how many people posted the "hell is freezing over" comments on my wall, whatever that is, when they saw I opened an account. Indeed, it's a flurry of activity that is certainly second-nature to you, but is new to me. Now, I'm peering deep into the lives of friends, but also of acquaintances, that I had long forgotten. So far, it feels voyeuristic, creepy and a little unnecessary.
But it's also pretty amazing. I guess everyone in the world really is on Facebook.
And yet, I don't know what to say. Tweets come easy to me now, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to post on Facebook. I'm not sure I'll even keep my account open after this reunion. I feel like I snuck my way into a party that I wasn't even invited to. Or maybe, I was invited to several times but finally showed up and people are asking what I'm doing here.
Again, all of this is old hat to you, because you spend all day on Facebook, right? It sure seems that way, because my phone is buzzing at me every 30 seconds, seemingly all day and all night (yes, I know I can turn that off, and I will soon when the novelty wears off). I'm just oh-so-late to the game.
Being a contrary FB curmudgeon while moonlighting as a digital media pioneer has been fun. Eating Zuckerberg crow has not. But at least I won't be flying blind when I show up at that reunion in Warwick, R.I. on July 28. I'll have done my homework, social media style.
Only then we'll see if I've become addicted like everyone else.
rm2nowone quick google search of your username revealed your real name, birth year, city of residence and where you buy your rosemary. It's the internet, not Facebook, that has killed privacy.
I am not a Facebook user and will never join. Privacy is very important to me.
So, you gave in to peer pressure and got an account because you wanted to fit in. The reunion sent your mind back to high school and its mindsets: You must be popular at all costs; even your values mean nothing if you aren't popular. I pity you.
Just seems contradictory that your byline says that you're a publisher. And as co-founder of OnMilwaukee.com, you must have technical experience as well as an appreciation for the ever-evolving world of digital media. Surely you understand the benefits of Facebook in this new age, particularly the benefits to publication, sharing content, and developing connections. As a leader of the company, I would think you'd want a Facebook account for many reasons, but perhaps the most telling reason is setting an example for the rest of your workplace that social media should be embraced.
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