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.