June 26th, 2008

I was a latecomer to Facebook. I signed up just about a year ago, after graduating college, when I gave into the idea of being able to keep in touch with my friends who were now scattered across the country. As a then twenty-one-year-old, I felt a bit left behind–old even. Most people my age had been using Facebook since they were at least eighteen. Especially when I visited the wall of my little brother, who’s five years younger, I felt like I was already a dinosaur, like everyone around was sixteen.

In more recent days, however, the reverse has happened. I’ve seen a crazy influx of people forty and over joining Facebook in the just last few months. First it was older games industry members, then my ex-professors, then my friends’ parents. That was all before the horrifying day my own mother created a Facebook account. The woman doesn’t even know how to upload a profile picture, but she knows how to stalk my wall and status updates. Plus, perhaps because she’s not of the traditional Facebook generation, she doesn’t understand the relative unimportance of social networking interactions. Over dinner, she’d ask, “I saw so-and-so left you message but you haven’t written back yet. What’s your problem?” Mom, that’s just creepy.

It’s not that having a parent on Facebook means a lack of privacy. Everything on my profile that was public is still public. Chances are none of my friends are going to leave anything too scandalous on my wall. But previously Facebook felt private within a certain sphere. What I published about myself I felt was there for my friends, not my parents, professors, business associates, etc. Suddenly it seems I have to stiffen up: there’s someone watching instead of playing along. And it makes me wonder, now that Facebook has been infiltrated by even middle-aged technophobes like my mom, whether it’s not time we whippersnappers found a new safe haven–somewhere we can post stupid pictures and talk like LoLcats without having to worry who’s listening.

Tags: Facebook

6 Responses to “Facebook Passes Its Prime, Grows Gray Hair”

  1. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    I’ve made a conscious effort to keep Facebook usage strictly personal, and not include business contacts on my friends list. 95% of my internet life is entirely public (le gulp), so I like that Facebook can be a safe haven where only friends and family have access to my contact info, photos, wall-postings, etcetera.

    That said, I’m getting more involved in the social networking side of the game industry, and more and more of my business contacts are inviting me to connect on Facebook (since it’s where their games are located). Up to now, my response has been a polite deferral to LinkedIn — which I refer to as “Facebook for grownups” — but I’m concerned about seeming off-putting for creating this divide.

    Personal space on the internet seems itself to be an oxymoron, but there’s no reason why we can’t have our private public moments. Facebook’s a great environment to share within a self-defined social circle, and I cherish my ability to manage that social circle down to every last individual. While I don’t feel there’s anything incriminating on my Facebook profile, I do feel entitled to that divide between my personal and professional lives.

  2. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Indeedily, though I’d argue that those spheres break down even further into personal, professional, and family lives. Another interesting situation: when readers Facebook friend me. I think Heroine Sheik-ites (Heroine Sheik-ers?) are awesome, but I never quite know what to do in that situation, especially if it’s someone I haven’t really talked to on the site. Like anybody else, I’m a slightly different version of myself here than I am with my RL buddies, and it feels strangely vulnerable to know that readers who’ve previously approached me a professional (if wacky) capacity are seeing the inner workings of my daily life.

  3. Brooke Says:

    when my mother tried to friend me on facebook I ignored her request and sent her a courtesy message to explain that I felt it would be wrong for us to be ‘friends’. She retorted that my sister thought it was okay. I stand by my word. Wrong wrong wrong. There was a spot on Australian radio station JJJ this past week where a guy was wondering why the dude who slept with his wife would want to friend him on Facebook after the fact. I’m with you – it’s time to jump ship.

  4. Darkpen Says:

    When you’re in a one-to-one position with someone you’ve seen with their job personality before, bit then you get into their reality where they talk about mundane things, or sometimes, you don’t know what to talk about, it can be awfully awkward, and perhaps alien.

    Personally, I think this applies to both parties, especially in an isolated space with a one-to-one interaction.

    While you might feel vulnerable, they’re just as nervous and confused, and might even over react, expect to much, or not know how to respond.

    I know that there are a few sites here and there that are trying to create a social network for gamers, but I’m not so sure about whether their popularity with rise to the degree of myspace or facebook to come into regular use, let alone any practicality from having multiple social networking accounts across more websites than you’d like to bother with.

  5. Darkpen Says:

    I’m sorry, that was poorly written. I’m a tad sleepy, and the coffee does nothing to improve my typing.

  6. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    The saddest part is that I think my mom would be semi-crushed if I refused to be her friend on Facebook. Every time she finds a new person to friend she comes home and reports it to me (thankfully now that I’ve moved a few times zones away again that should stop). Even if it’s a matter of establishing social boundaries, I have a hard time potentially hurting someone’s feelings.

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