Facing up to Facebook

I’ve always resisted joining social networking sites like MySpace or Friendster because for the most part I enjoy my anonymity (present blog excepted). However, it seems like the universe has been conspiring lately to get me to join Facebook. Within the last few weeks, four friends, from completely different social circles, have extolled the benefits of the site, and have urged me to join up. Tempted by their descriptions of how easy it is to reconnect with friends from high school and college, and by the offer of a long distance Scrabble game now and again, I finally took the plunge a few days ago.

Now it seems I can’t stop.

When I first started looking up people I might know, it was amazing to realize it was possible to contact friends I had lost touch with long ago. There they were, right on the screen and within emailing distance. My first impulse was to contact a bunch of people right away, but my wiser second impulse was to take my time and contact a few people at a time, so I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed with responses (or have to console myself for a lack of responses). Another issue for me in the beginning was that as much as I’d enjoy getting back in touch with people, I have a hard time being breezy in email messages, the electronic version of small talk. Once a friend and I reconnected, would I have anything interesting to say, or would I slip back into the mode of communicating I employed when I knew them earlier (i.e. my pre-introvert awareness days)?

Strangely enough, I’m finding that the lack of anonymity is not a problem, that I’m enjoying sharing photos and personal information with friends and potential friends. I think part of this is due to the writing I’ve done on this blog, which has helped me to be more open about where I’m really at, but it goes beyond that. Being able to present a full (or semi-full) snapshot of the person I am now (likes, dislikes, work, daily activities) on my own terms makes me feel much more free to be social. I don’t have to get into all the little details (they can see them on my Profile), but I can start from where I am right now, and avoid small talk altogether. While a social networking site can’t substitute for relationships in the non-virtual world, in the short amount of time I’ve been onboard, I’ve been surprised to find that it may be the next best thing to being with friends and family in person.

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5 Responses to “Facing up to Facebook”

  1. Johanna said:

    I think you are on to something with saying you enjoy being able to present a full snapshot of yourself on your own terms. I know in social situations, I can feel a bit overwhelmed if someone says to me, “so tell me about yourself”. Where to start? If technology advances enough that we can carry around electronic facebooks to hand out, I might be tempted to say, “Here, read this, and get back to me when you’re done.” 🙂

  2. spectatrix said:

    Johanna:

    Exactly! I’ve read that there’s a tendency for introverts to dislike talking about themselves, and I know that’s certainly true for me. I feel like I never quite represent myself well, and thus people rarely get to know the “real me.” On the other hand, there are certain extroverted people whose entire life story you know in the first five minutes of talking to them, and they usually have a lot of friends, which I sometimes envy. But I know I’ve found a potential good friend when someone asks me “so tell me about yourself,” and they really mean it (crucial to building trust is knowing that someone is actually listening). In the meantime, Facebook and the writing I do on this and other blogs at least makes me feel like I can present myself in a good light for once 🙂

  3. Cat Jahnke said:

    So perhaps in the near future you’ll be writing about a CURE for introversion: Blogging! Baby steps, Morg…

    (btw, I had to look up “introversion” because it didn’t seem like the proper word. Google found this definition: “Preoccupation with oneself and accompanying reduction of interest in the outside world. Contrast to extraversion.” What do you think about that?)

  4. spectatrix said:

    Cat:

    No, blogging is just another means of expression, not a CURE. As for the Google definition, I am pretty interesting… 🙂

  5. Jeanne said:

    There appears to be an impression here that being a loner is something that should be avoided, explained and perhaps “cured”, as if it were some sort of afliction. I don’t agree. I’m a happy loner and certainly do not need a “cure”. I enjoy my solitude and my friends. “Introvert” and “extrovert” are limiting and polarizing lables that rarely apply to any actual person. It’s arrogant to believe that a person can be defined with a single word. People are much more complicated and interesting than that. Perhaps the people who need these lables just need a simple way to define people; and to shrink them into their own simplistic intellectual limitations. Cheers to all, I’m off for a walk in the sunshine. Alone.