Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bloggers Against Web 2.0

Why do all these people want to be Facebook Friends with me?

Why do they even call it Facebook Friend?

Why not Facebook Acquaintance?

Or, in one exemplary case, Facebook Guy-I-Made-Out-With-After-the-Spring-Musical-Cast-Party-Sophomore-Year-of-High School?

If our "relationship" didn't last much longer than the Half Hollow Hills High School East production of Pirates of Penzance, I think the world can safely assume we have no need to re-connect a couple decades later. 

Because we never really connected in the first place.  We just made out a couple of times.

That doesn't even qualify us for Facebook Friends With Benefits.

I realize this rant makes me sound like a crotchety old Luddite railing against the new.  

But so what if I'm not the Modern Major General of Social Networking?  

These days, Wikipedia is fulfilling all the major functions of the Modern Major General anyway.

As we crotchety old Luddites like to say, Thank Heavens for the internet!

(Or should that be Thank Al Gore?)

It's not like we don't all wonder whatever happened to that guy we made out with at the cast party sophomore year of high school.  But that is what Google is for, people.  

Google him.  Read his Linked In profile.  Google Image Search him if you dare.  Then go back to whatever you were supposed to be doing when you started procrastinating by Googling that guy you . . . well, you know where this is going.  

This week, one of my clients told me Look into this Twitter thing to see if there's anything interesting we can do with it

And there is!

We can mock it.

One of the first Twits (yeah, I know they're supposed to be called Tweets.  But Twits is so much more apt.  And at least it's not as bad as what some people call them) I read was a Twit that sent me to a Blog which announced a new Comic Book Series based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

In the time it took me to wade through all that dot-communication, I could have just read the damn novel.

I know I have a copy of it somewhere. 

Someone gave it to me for a birthday present senior year of high school.  Who was that?

Wait, I remember.  Laura Gregorio.

Hey, I wonder what she's up to these day.  

Alas, she doesn't seem to be any of these 14,000 Laura Gregorios, as far as I can tell.

Oh, wait, what was I saying here, to you?  Right, I was making fun of our obsessive need to fake-connect with anyone we have ever met.  I believe I was just about to say some other snarky thing about Twitter. 

Yes, yes.  Right after the Jane Austen thing, I found a Twit feed that was for parents whose kids have ADHD.

Now, it is not nice to mock people with neurobehavioral disorders, I know.

But mocking their parents is another thing.

Maybe if they turned off the Twits, put down the Crackberry, set down the Laptop, unplugged the TV, and, I dunno, took their kids on a nice long hike in the nature, the whole family might find it a little easier to concentrate.

Depending on how much high fructose corn syrup is in their trail bars.

So in the interest of promoting real dialogue, with depth and nuance,  here is what I am going to do.  I am going to log onto Facebook, accept whatever Friend invitations have been stacking up, and invite all those people to comment on this post.  

Just like a nice old-fashion 1970s Rap Session.  

With people I haven't seen, or thought about, since the 80s.   

(Although feel free to chime in whoever you are, whether I have seen you since Reagan left office or I've never met you.  That's what this whole Web 2.0 is all about, after all).


Chuck Barnes said...

I'm betting that whatever drug company makes Adderall has a significant stake in Facebook. And I'm going to buy some of their stock for my retirement as soon as I read a few more of these posts.

Karin said...

I think my strangest facebook "friend" is girl-my-highschool-boyfriend-cheated-on-me-with-at-college (and yes, that's really the only context I know her in...). But despite its radically altered notions of "friends," facebook works well for me - I'm nosy, I procrastinate, and I miss old social networks but don't do well with extended correspondence. Twitter, however, deserves all the mocking you've got.

Rachel said...

People want to be Facebook friends with you because they are interested in you, a little bit, but not enough to engage in a full-on relationship.

Personally, I enjoy knowing that this guy I knew in elementary school is now a private investigator!

Maryrose Larkin said...

I like facebook, because of the random. Look a bunny!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lois! Well, your post made me smile. Especially since I am one of the dudes making those 'Web 2.0' sites.

I must say I did find it especially ironic that I found this blog entry on your Facebook page - right after you reached out and 'friended' me on Facebook after 20 something years of no contact! Hmmm...


PS - Inquiring minds want to know who you were making out with when we were doing Pirates together in High School! I think that deserves another blog post...

Macaroni said...

Glenn, I only ACCEPTED your friend invite.

And in case you were worried, you're not the one I was making out with back when Terms of Endearment was the big Oscar winner.

M said...

Yo, I don't have time to read all this. I need to compose a new tweet. As for attention spans, what about how I was supposed to be reading to a friend-of-friend's kid this morning, and that I kept cringing at any book longer than 12 pages? "How about that Curious George book instead. No, the skinnier one."

me|inda said...

Mmmmm.... A blog post that encourages me to nod my head in agreement and feel the need to defend myself at the same time! Regarding the latter impetus, I can only say that I've genuinely missed being in touch with you the last few years and Facebook was the first [electronic] reunion opportunity to come along. But a lot has happened, so I've procrastinated long and hard on the big catch up attempt message. Sorry, Lois.

Your post brings another question to mind: what do you think the online social networking world is saying about our individual and collective egos? More specifically, is what it's saying anything we haven't heard before?

Chris said...

I am happy to be able to turn my laptop on in the morning and check in with a few dozen friends (and a certain number of strangers) from around the world before I get up for my shower.

I am happy that not every form of interaction is deep, profound, and life-changing. I am happy that there is a space of grazing, for keeping connections simmer, and for allowing kairotic moments of delight and unexpected connection. I don't see Facebook as preventing other types of connection. I don't see it as a zero-sum game.

I do think that the problem with Twitter is that Facebook does it far better.

Alan B said...

Because some of us miss this about you. I like that the blog is no different than hanging out in your room at Adams House, except that I can't really see your lipstick as well. Does that make us friends after 20 year? Arguably no. But knowing that this gets your panties in a bunch reminds me of the good old days, when we hung out and you were my own Karen Walker, before she had even been invented.

cyndy said...

I guess the most annoying thing about Facebook for me is the thought that it is displacing something else that used to be done with my time... if only I could recall what that was... Of course the interface and terminology are hokey and generic and I could hardly expect otherwise. The plus side is getting to voyeur in on the other lives and other paths taken, some by people I barely know/remember, some by people whom I really do love. And to see how they present themselves to others-not-just-me in the electronic realm (since our knowledge of each other largely predates the www.) It has been a good tool for use when I'm about to travel to somewhere where a bunch of old buds live; people tend to keep more current contact info & whereabouts on Facebook than they do, say, on blogs that haven't been updated since 2005...

Arnel said...

Why do all these people want to be Facebook Friends with you, Lois Leveen?

I cannot speak for the masses, but I will speak for myself. It all begins with memory and curiosity.

Yes, I was one of those who knew you in high school, but no, I was not with you in the cast of Pirates. We were friends, but never in each others inner circle. And that was fine. then, and is probably fine now. But I am curious as to where life has taken you.

You were one of the most honest persons I knew back then. You spoke your mind, you spoke truth to power (whatever that means), and it was refreshing. I admired you, your intellect, because you were, and what you stood for, were admirable.

You introduced me to Yiddish, told me not to call myself a nebbish, occasionally rescued me from bouts of angst and self-pity. You explained to me what the Talmud was (albeit briefly). You even called me a mensch, but I’m not sure that I deserve that term, then or now. These moments may not have registered with you, but they left an imprint on me.

I saw you argue with Mrs. Aversano about your Little Women essay. I witnessed you defending your writing, your desire to be free from her editing and her interference. I saw a spark of passion, enough to make a mental note to keep an eye out for you in the future. You had vision, or at least Mrs. A thought so. Did she give you a book of verse, “To those who see--”?

But then you went to Harvard, I to a hellishly cold cosmopolitan campus. Internet was non-existent, hell, cell phones were non existent. I (and I imagine you) focused on the immediate, losing sight of those in the periphery (kudos, Bob Sima). I eventually went on to med school, where out of sight was truly out of mind. Sadly that applied to family as well as friends. We connected once in the intervening years, at someone’s wedding (whose I don’t recall) and we discussed tears that flowed at another’s wedding. And we moved on.

And now we are here, in the midst of Web 2.0. Despite the fact that ‘Google knows all’ what is relevant is hard to discern. “Lois Leveen” results in over 1300 entries, not as many as “Laura Gregorio,” but still a formidable number. (If you really want to connect with her I can give you some clues, but she is another one who is sadly lost to the periphery)

Facebook has allowed me to separate the wheat from the chaff, to find those that had meaning from lifetimes ago. Sure I’ve had my share of acquaintances “friend” me, and to be honest I don’t mind. Their motives are theirs, whether it be ‘padding’ the friend numbers, or a voyeuristic curiosity about what life I’ve seized from life. If they want to listen in, so be it. A friend once said that FB was an exercise in narcissism (Thanks GC) and it may be. At least it’s not as destructive or wasteful as other manifestations of narcissism

For those others that Facebook has helped me find, I am grateful. It simplifies my participation in their narrative, and their participation in mine. It allows me to catch up with their life on my time, after work, after dinner, after the kids are asleep, after all of the daily grind has been brewed and thrown on the rose bushes outside.

So Lois, there you have it, a somewhat serious answer to a comedic invitation for dialogue. (Besides you double-dog dared me). There are some of us (okay at least one) who really respected you when you were younger, and I’m curious as to whether the star that shined so brightly back then has accomplished all that she wished and hoped for. I would hope so, for the Lois I knew back then truly deserved it.

evergolden said...

Facebook works well for the lazy voyeur which is what I freely admit to being.

Kathleen said...

Actually, Lois, the main reason I friended you was when I saw you the other day, it occurred to me that you might be interested in this new program we're starting at OCH and I couldn't find your email address (though I know I had it at one point). It's true: my FB use clearly blur the line between professional and private, no doubt because I'm a type A that doesn't know any other way to live.

But I hear what you're saying: this week I was friended by someone I've never even met! I'm old school, so generally, I ignore those requests (or the ones from people from my past that I don't remember, though I probably should), but I felt guilted into accepting because we have so many friends in common. Turn out I'm kind of an FB wimp.

Anyway, here's the shameless plug--The Conversation Project: A New Chautauqua. We're looking for people who are interested in facilitating conversations around the state. The RFP is on the OCH homepage if you (or any of your friends, FB or real-life) are interested:

Len Neiberg said...

Facebook gives me so many new chances to be snarky while being out of range of an immediate dope-slap.

Linda said...

I like how I ended up here via Facebook. I do actually, have the RSS feed to the blog, but check that only once in a while. Facebook is every day. I echo Maryrose & Cyndy.

speaking of luddite, I still don't know what Web 2.O means, exactly, though is this what we are doing part of it?

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead!

Erik said...

Hi Lois!

Yeah I'm suddenly being mobbed by people from high school (well, by three of them), and I don't even know if they realize who I am! There was a boy with my current name in my class, but I would not be him. I am trying to figure out a polite way to tell these people they are connecting with that weird nerdy girl whom they never spoke to and who grew up to be a transsexual punk rocker who collects psychiatric diagnoses like baseball cards. and then ask them if that's what they meant to do. although it's no secret in Marietta GA what I did with myself later in life I can't be sure that these people have seen my blog or my profile (and I'm only there in my twenty-year quest to find Dave and Joe. my mother knows how to find Dave but won't tell me for fear that "word will get out"--she doesn't realize I already announced myself long ago).

mostly I use facebook to keep track of old friends. LiveJournal is where I introspect deeply. and I will admit to plurking as well. for some of us terminally introverted people, web 2.0 is actually a vital link to the world of those who speak.

see? I'm talking to you for the first time in over a year! this is no trivial occasion! :)

ev said...

Well Lois, I'm sorry you haven't seen or thought about me since the eighties (or early nineties, really). i often thought of you, and wished there was an easy way to find you after our peripatetic job paths separated us. Viola, facebook! Arnel wrote a particularly insightful and personalized response to your post which i hope makes you feel somewhat better about the people trying to find you. I have never successfully found any current contacts for my friends on google, as most of my acquaintances like me are nearly net illiterate, don't have blogs, and don't have current employment info online. I know nothing about twitter - not a clue.

Macaroni said...

okay, so far we have learned:
1. everyone gets freaky friends requests on Facebook.
2. some people think email is too old school and twitter is too new school but FB is just right. (I am not one of those people, since I couldn't even figure out how to send the note about this blog entry to all my FB friends-without-benefits; that's why I prefer email, and yes, if you google me you should get my professional website which is my name dotcom and thus my email address.
3. Erik S. is not THAT Erik S. At least he didn't used to be.
4. Linda doesn't know what web 2.0 is (it's the buzzphrase for internet exchanges that are/can be 'user built' - think wikipedia; but mostly it's a buzz phrase, since a lot of web 2.0 really is corporate tracking of users under the guide of invitations to post content.
5. I am a sensitive, insightful, inspiring, honest soul. Or a nasty drunk with a heartful of zingers.
Depending on whether you believe Arnel or Alan . . .
But I didn't mean for this to be about me, not the why do people FBFriend Lois but why do we use this to organizer our interactions and suck up our time?

You know, time that could be better spent reading all the back entries of my blog. You are curious, aren't you?

Christina Rothschild said...

So let me get this straight: you are shunning the modern, techie, newfangled Facebook in favor of the more personal, old-school, abacus-and-protractor-style blog entry. Really? Perhaps we're just a teensy bit stubborn about learning to use some new website for communication purposes? Hmm?

Besides, you can only Google or Link-In search people who are somewhat accomplished. Admittedly, this works for Googling/Linked-In-ing you, SuperLois, but for the rest of us who are sort of just starting out (or perhaps taking more of a strolling, meandering start), a Google search turns up a link to...drum roll... our Facebook page, and a weird, auto-generated ad that says something like, "Find Christina Rothschild on eBay! Get the best deal on Christina Rothschild!"

And, just maybe, some people add you on Facebook because they admired you long ago but were your mere lowly, peon students and were not exactly in a social position to ask you for friendly chat over drinks at the time... maybe...?

Twitter, however, makes me feel a little empty inside. Yes, I feel a tiny zing of joy in my heart every time Rachel Maddow tweets me, but then I remember that I can't actually chat with her about Michael Isikoff's one corduroy suit, which he wears every time he's on her show, or Obama's views on presidential powers, Gitmo, etc. Twitter makes me feel a little sad for the drinking buddy I wish I had.

Krista said...

I am merciless and don't have any qualms about blocking people if I don't think they deserve to see my profile. Oddly enough, I still have over 450 "friends". How dare you criticize my labeling of people I barely know as "friends". Come on Lois, even though we haven't actually talked in years, you are my bestest friend, aren't you? Aren't you? *sniffs*

Dot Hearn said...

I was originally lured into Facebook by an artist friend. It was a way of keeping in touch with someone with a very different schedule and. And. Well, I thought, what the hell? Then someone found me there. No biggie. Then a niece I haven't seen in probably 15 years found me (she's now married with kids). Then the work connections started finding me.

I love the blog. I have a small handful of blogs I follow (oh, wait, that has a specific meaning now in the cyber world and I don't really "follow" in blogger terms; I subscribe in my blog reader). I have just added this one to my list because I enjoy your writing, Lois.

Facebook I check in every once in a while to see if someone else has found me. And then I can accept or ignore. Once in a great while I initiate if it's someone I have no other contact information for.

Twitter! Ugh. I signed up when I was doing NaNoWriMo - but never used it. I signed up but didn't give access to my mobile device; no way I want people texting me that they are going to the bathroom or having a lovely lunch or are amazed/shocked/bored by the play they're watching. I want to say: *be there* *experience it* *if you want your friend to experience it with you, buy them a ticket next time and make a date*

I agree. Unplug. Get out. Go with friends, family, and walk or bike or even pile in the car and drive. Be face to face rather than meeting on Facebook.

-go to a poetry reading
-go to a play
-go out for drinks
-go for lunch
-go for a swim
-throw a party just because
-throw an anti-twitter/facebook party
-write a play
-cook and invite friends over for dinner and game night

Okay. I'm getting off the computer now; or after I finish answering my email and checking my online students and catching up on the news for the day. *smile*

Dot Hearn said...

...forgot to say. Yes, interesting that we would rather twitter/fb/text/etc than actually meet up. I'm curious. I can make guesses -- but that's all they'd be.

One of my images is like kaiten sushi. A bunch of people sitting at a revolving counter with plates of food going by. There may be a long row of people around you and you bump elbows when you dip that dragon roll in the sauce, but you don't speak. You don't look at each other. You share a space yet probably don't know who's directly on either side. Like standing in an elevator and looking up or down or forward; anywhere except at the person behind you.

We can't be alone and are drawn to places with others. Yet we can't or don't connect.


Kevin said...

Hi Lois. I like your funny blog. I don't really "get" the attraction of FB, either, but you might be persuading me. I know that's the opposite, but that's what's happening.

Arnel said...

Alright Lois, I took your advice. I spent some of my time reading some of the back entries of your blog (I am curious....) and guess what? Brian Turner was right: he thought you were one of the the funniest women that he knew, and it looks like you haven’t lost any of that incisive wit. I haven’t gotten that far back into your blog (my time has some value, after all...) but what I’ve read I’ve enjoyed...

Of course I wouldn’t have found the blog if it wasn’t for Facebook. I didn’t even know the blog existed. Maybe I could have found it if I Googled or Spocked you and crawled through web sites in a stalker-ish kind of way. But FB made it easy, and I guess that’s the bottom line

Facebook made it easy to know the this Lois is the same Lois that I knew in high school. I didn’t have to guess. I saw a picture, I recognized some names on your FW/OB list, and bingo, you were the real McCoy. Or at least the outer shell looked the same. Who knows? After twenty plus years you may not be the sensitive, insightful, inspiring, honest soul that I remember from yesteryear... At least FB makes it easy to ask the question.

I’ll say that I don’t get everything about FB. I just don’t get poking and super poking, handing out of drinks and food, the throwing of snowballs, and the giving of virtual gifts. Hell don’t give me a virtual drink--buy me one at a local bar. FB can’t be the end all, be all of social interaction. I agree with Dot, we have to unplug, get out and go out.

FB has at least widened the horizons of people I can hang with. I’m trying to decide now if I can go to a birthday party to catch up with someone I haven’t seen in over twenty years. It’s four hours away, and the only person I would likely know would be the guest of honor. I’m flattered to have been asked, and I’m seriously tempted to go. But none of it would have happened except for a chance encounter on FB.

So thanks Lois for giving me the opportunity to overshare again.

Macaroni said...

Well this has been quite the little heartfelt tell-all. I'm glad, I guess, that Arnel can learn about me from my OB/FW.

Although actually I don't know what my OB/FW is.

I'm just hoping it's not like an OB/GYN, because (no offense Ev), there are some things I'd rather not have available online.

Anonymous said...

FW/OB: Friends without benefits

kittee said...

Too bad I can't just click "like" and skedaddle outta here.

I dunno, I sorta love FB, although your points all make sense. I like email and blogs too, I want them to all co-exist on my laptop along with forums, which I am also addicted to.

I googled my old boyfriend, but nothing came up, so instead I stalked him on FB and had to change my region to SLC, UT and got stuck in that region for three months. THAT SUCKED.