A few days ago, as many of you know, my Facebook aversion was overcome by my maternal need to keep in touch with my son, who’s now away at college. I rationalized that I could keep the FB thing contained, that I’d provide the bare minimum of personal information required, and that I’d simply connect to my kids and a handful of close friends and family members.
You’re chuckling and gently shaking your head at my naivete, aren’t you? I don’t blame you. Within seconds of opening my account, a business associate sent me a Friend Request, followed quickly by family members, old friends and even friends of my kids. How could this happen? I was trying so hard to FB anonymously, though I now understand that the terms “Facebook” and “anonymous” are mutually exclusive.
I turned to my resident Facebook expert, my 14 year old daughter, for advice. “You don’t have to accept the Friend Requests. Just ignore them,” she recommended. She emphasized that under no circumstances should I accept requests from certain individuals. “Don’t connect with Sheila (not her real name) – she posts a lot of crazy stuff and whatever you do, don’t connect with Sheila’s mom – she’ll send you endless Farmville requests.” She’s a wise young woman, my daughter.
So, I tried to give myself some guidelines about who I should and shouldn’t connect with. Family, close friends and local business people with whom I have real life connections all seemed to be okay, though that list far exceeds my original friending intentions. On the other hand, most of my children’s friends, mere acquaintances and people I couldn’t stand from high school would be permanently placed on the “Not Now” list.
What about my blogging friends? They don’t fit neatly into any category, but some of them have become “real” friends, though we’ll probably never meet or even talk to one another on the phone (do y’all remember when people used to communicate like that?). I figured I’d decide on a case-by-case basis.
Last night I was telling my daughter how shocked I was at how FB connections grew like kudzu, despite attempts to keep them under control. I listed the people I had connected with, including a few blogger friends. “Mom! You connected with your blogging friends?! You don’t know those people! You should NEVER connect with people you don’t know in real life!”
I was proud of her staunch adherence to this very sensible rule and chagrinned that I had violated it. I tried to explain that I felt I knew them pretty well and that I was confident that none of them were stalkers or serial killers, but she was not accepting any excuses. Be forewarned, however, if you are one of my blogging buddies and we become friends on FB, I will not hesitate to unfriend you (is that the correct term?) if I begin to suspect that you are a stalker, a serial killer or far more mentally unstable than I am.
I have one final FB faux pas to confess. Again, the words of my daughter: “Mom, I know you’re new to Facebook and have a lot to learn, but please do not Facebook chat with me EVERY time you see me on there. I mean, I’m right in the other room!” I explained that whenever I see her beautiful face pop up in the little chat area, I feel like it would be rude to ignore her. “No, really, it’s okay to ignore me, please,” she pleaded. Ok, ok, I get it.
To be fair, however insidious Facebook is, it has allowed me to chat with my son almost everyday. Worth it? Yeah. Happy about it? Nope.