Rambling post forthcoming... Don't say I didn't warn you!
So... back in the good old days, when I was blogging often and enjoying the back-and-forth with several bloggers (whose sites I still enjoy catching up on now and then), this little Internet phenomenon started turning up. They called it "MySpace", and while many of my acquaintances began using it, I resisted. I looked at it as "blog lite" - a place for people who didn't really have much to say. This here weblog was "my space", and with a little bit of scripting knowledge and persistence, I could make it look just nearly however I wanted.
Hubby-head got sucked into MySpace, at least a little bit. He had fun customizing his page, although probably as a concession to me, he agreed not to use the blog feature and post his occasional bloggable thoughts here on NftGB. And he reconnected with some old friends via MySpace, which was pretty cool. I didn't have any desire to join the herd, but he was happy with it. All good.
Then after a while, I started getting e-mail notifications that certain friends were trying to get me to join some other new Internet fad called "Facebook". From what I could gather, it was kind of like MySpace, but with a heavier emphasis on photos. Well, as I told my hubby at the time, I could upload and share photos on the blog too. And since there hadn't been a picture taken of me that I actually liked in years, why on earth would I want to join a place that was going to force me to display pictures? Puh-leeze.
Fast-forward to a few months after the event that changed everything...
Some of my gamer buddies began to organize a big meet-up in Chicago. As this was actually in the same state as my family, and the primary organizer was a total sweetheart of a woman I really liked talking to, I figured I'd make an effort to show up and combine it with a trip to visit my mom and grandparents. I was informed that a lot of the discussion about the event was taking place on Facebook, and I should join. I refused, rather adamantly. Several times. One of my friends then took this as a personal challenge.
At the time, little did I realize I had butted heads with someone who was just as stubborn as I - and quite a bit more audacious. Since Hubby-head passed away, she'd been talking about coming out to visit me for a weekend. She was finally able to squeeze it into her schedule in February, and we had a fun couple of days, sandwiched around an incident in which she proved her ruthlessness by jumping onto my laptop, creating a Facebook account for me, hacking into my e-mail to click the confirmation link, and adding a bunch of people as friends that she knew I got along with. She took a picture of me pouting and uploaded it and tagged me in it.
I might have been able to stop her, with much unpleasantness, but hey, as I've mentioned, I'm non-confrontational. It happened, and I told her she still couldn't make me *use* it.
It wasn't long, though, before I started getting friend requests from other people. I'd check my e-mail, and see a friend from church who'd searched my name and found my profile... and sit there and sigh. Most of the time I'd just do nothing. Sometimes I'd let them know I wasn't actually using Facebook - someone had signed me up against my will. One of Hubby's closest friends found me and friended me, and I accepted, but sent her a little note explaining that I wasn't *really* using it. And then Hubby's mom added me as a friend. Had to accept that one too, since unlike the church friends, I didn't see her every week.
Then my best friend told me she was using Facebook, primarily to upload photos and share them. She takes some awesome photos, and while she was trying to send me some via e-mail now and then, it was just cumbersome, so I finally went back onto Facebook and added her as a friend, and started checking now and then to see what she was up to. She's been a contributing author here on NftGB now and then, tossing in an intriguing quote she'd run across, and I knew I'd find more of the same on Facebook.
Still I resisted using it for myself - I figured if I had something to say, I'd put it here. But I wasn't really finding much to say here... Unlike my blogging heyday, when I'd toss up several posts a day whenever something amused me or worked me up to a rant, I felt like most of my random thoughts weren't worth a blog post. And the more important things swirling around in my brain seemed to be too much effort (or too emotional) to sit down and wordsmith into something fit for public consumption.
Then a few months ago, three things happened around the same time.
First, my old singles pastor - whose family I adored and with whom I'd lost touch after my wedding and their move to Northern Arizona - found my profile and sent me a friend request. Thinking of him and his family reminded me of the years when I was actually writing songs often (hence the screen name), and how much they supported and encouraged me in that. Nobody since Martin has really been behind me and supported me to that extent. Hubby-head supported me, I should say, but he didn't play an instrument, and Martin's encouragement was a bit more of the type that pulled you in and got you involved and accomplished things. I miss that support, and I miss that family, so I started thinking maybe Facebook would be a good way to reconnect with them.
Then my brother dropped by to pick something up at my house, and we started chatting the way we do and ended up talking for about 3 hours on all sorts of subjects. Facebook came up in conversation, and he told me I should join. I confessed that I already had an account, albeit unwillingly, and wasn't all that interested in using it. He made a few suggestions about how to hide the sort of spam I wasn't looking forward to, and privacy settings and such, and then proceeded to send me a friend request despite my resistance.
And then my mom found me... as she'd done before... and I finally gave up. I accepted all the languishing friend requests, posted my intentions ("I will not play Farm Town."), and braced myself for the gloating.
And I discovered something. As horrible as I am at keeping in touch with my friends via telephone, text, or e-mail (and forget Christmas cards, ha!), Facebook is making it easy to feel... well, connected.
Aside from the gamer buddies, and the church friends (who I still see every week), I've tracked down and caught up with a few people who I used to be close to at church who have moved away or changed churches... Friends of Hubby-head's that I'd met and liked... College and high school friends that I completely lost track of... Those who aren't using a social networking site like Facebook might say that if they were really important to me, I'd have gotten an address, or an e-mail or phone number, and kept in touch, but we all know how it goes. Life happens, we get distracted, we stop prioritizing some relationships, people move or change phone numbers, they change computers and don't back up their e-mail address books, etc. Or you completely forget how much you liked talking to this person or that person way back in the day, and one day you find an old photo and say "Whatever happened to him? He was cool."
Not to sound like a Facebook commercial, but as much as I stubbornly resisted using it to begin with, I'm now a huge fan. Completely apart from the games and apps (which I'm selective about using, and am probably more considerate than most people at not being spammy or pushy with invites and posts), I'm loving it.
I love seeing the links that my friends post - what amuses them, or excites them, or ticks them off. I love seeing the videos - hearing bands that I might not have run across before, even if they're not my style, or getting a good giggle from the obligatory adorable kitten video. I love the photos - artistic shots... gorgeous landscapes... family pictures of people who have gotten married and had kids since I last saw them... old pictures someone dug up and scanned of high school or college exploits...
I love the random updates that let you know life goes on as normal, kids get sick, work gets annoying, and the pets make a mess in the living room. I love the quotes from song lyrics or poetry or the Bible or whatever book they're reading at the time. Even if they're not directing it at me particularly, it makes me feel like I know what's on their mind, what's going on with them, and I learn a bit more about what they like and what annoys them and what makes them who they are.
I love being able to hop over to a friend's wall and post some random inside joke that just occurred to me... or send a virtual hug or heart... or link something I think they'd particularly like... or just say "thinking of you!" and not have to make it a big deal.
I love the fact that you can pick and choose how much you want to share with people. I also love the fact that you can block applications or hide their posts in your news feed so you don't have to get annoyed with spam and not have to offend your friends by telling them to leave you the heck alone. I love the chat feature, although it's buggy and sometimes intrusive, because people who wouldn't think of installing MSN Messenger or AIM are available to chat with in real time... and because if you don't feel like chatting you can set yourself to offline and it's no big deal.
So yeah. I got sucked in, and I don't regret it. I'll have some more thoughts to share one of these days about what I choose to post and what I think twice about... but this is getting long enough and I've got other things to do today (really, I do!).
The funny thing is, now that I'm on Facebook, I feel the need to post here more often too. I'm doing the Daily Dose of YouTube Holiday Cheer again this year, but on Facebook... and linking the random amusing things I find there... and uploading the photos there... but more personal thoughts, poetry, and things I want space to explore in more depth will wind up here as usual. Find me on Facebook if you want the other stuff.