Thursday, March 5, 2009

To Facebook, or Not to Facebook; That Is the Question

All the cool kids are doing it.

This isn't just a phrase I tossed at Ainsley to get her to get Troy's autograph after High School Musical. It's something I've been hearing from my husband as various people from our pasts contact him on Facebook and say, "Could you please tell your wife to get with the program and sign up on here?"

I don't know why I've avoided this. I signed up on MySpace fairly readily after my 15-year high-school reunion a couple of years ago. Perhaps, like commenter DRoss writes, I'm afraid I will get sucked down a "rabbit hole." Do I really want to squander what precious free time I have? Perhaps I'm worried, with all the lectures I give my students about being careful what they post for the world to see and how easy they make it for people to steal their personal information and how often people make idiots out of themselves online, that I will put too much out there and endanger my own privacy and livelihood.

Whatever the reasons I have, I'm starting to cave to the pressure. With my beloved Wildcats blowing any chance they may have had of getting a spot in the NCAA tourney with a stunning loss last night, there will be some gaps in my TV-viewing schedule coming up soon. I will have no excuse not to accept the invitations (some of which have come from you, dear readers) to be friendly on Facebook.

Oh, DRoss, are you really going to give up Facebook for Lent just when I am jumping on the party wagon?

But here's where I draw the line: I will never, not no way, not no how, begin Twittering. Or Tweeting. Or whatever it is people do on Twitter that I don't completely understand.

After all the hubbub last week wherein some of our congress-people on both sides of the aisle Twittered (as opposed to "tittered", which last I heard was still acceptable) during Obama's address instead of, you know, being adults and paying attention, I began to wonder with more seriousness what Twitter is all about. Just a few nights later, I got a run-down from "Old Man Stewart":

The best I can tell, Twitter is just another way for people who think they're interesting to share just how interesting they think they are by frequently sending out up to 140 characters answering that eternal questions, "What are you doing?"Just think about that for a minute. I know we all love our friends, and are fascinated by certain writers, celebrities, and politicians, but do you really need up-to-the-minute blurbs on what they're doing, what they're thinking, what they're eating, and how regularly they're going to the bathroom? Is this what we're doing with the power of technology?

After watching the Stewart send-up of Twitter and Twitterers, Jason and I pondered it. He went so far as to lump Twitterers and bloggers in the same heap of self-absorption.

I resemble that remark.

He went to and set up an account to see what all the fuss is about. He subscribed to receive Dave Matthews's tweets, but even with my urging has yet to send out anything of his own. We discussed a few possibilities:

Just discovered some lint in my navel.

Eating dinner with my wife--wow, she's a loud chewer.

Finished clipping my toenails. Don't think they all made it into the garbage can.

Seriously, this isn't too far off the mark of what people tweet. Just look at the samples on the Twitter home page. Really, is this what you want to spend the day reading about your friends?

Maybe one of you can prove me wrong. Maybe this, like email, will soon be considered necessary for life. Do you Twitter? Or do you just Facebook? Or are you above the banalities of both? Discuss, using sweet "tweets" of 140 characters or less. Go!


Robert K. said...

I used to prefer MySpace, but in the past few months I've started to prefer Facebook. True, blogging and twittering is sort of self-indulgent. But on the other hand, all of my friends are scattered around the country, and I don't necessarily feel like calling them every night. But I can check their blogs, or their Facebook status updates, or their comments on my page to see what they're up to, even if it is as banal as the fact that they clipped their toenails that night.

joanna said...

To add to what Robert has said, I think Facebook lets me feel a little closer to these scattered friends. I found them interesting when I met them, and I still think they are interesting. Now, I have not tried twitter. Not sure I like the idea that random people, or not so random like my students, can sign up and read about me. I think I will stick with the Facebook status updates.

Karen said...

I agree with Rob and Joanna. Facebook is nice because it does make you feel closer to your friends who are scattered all over the place. You don't have to write an epistle, you can just say hi whenever you feel like it. And it's been nice to be in touch with old friends I might not have re-discovered otherwise. I know people who Twitter, but I don't think I'd really care to do it. Nobody really needs a second by second update on my life - not even me. :)

Just do it. You know you want to. ;)