Diary of a Facebook Virgin

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.

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26 thoughts on “Diary of a Facebook Virgin

  1. I know how you feel. I am also an FB virgin. However, I signed up under a pseudonym, so no one has found me yet! I’m thankful because I only started the account so I could use it to sign onto some of the websites I use. If it’s any consolation, I promise not to friend you!

    • I always thought that if you used a pseudonym, a FB swat team would descend and shut you down. I hope you can remain blissfully undetected.

      So, should I assume you’re a stalker, serial killer or more mentally unstable than me?

  2. At least you did not embarrass yourself like me when I joined a few years ago and referred to “the facebook thingie” to the whites of my daughter’s eyes as they rolled to the back of her head!

    I’m keeping up with you son, too… as we have been “friends” for over a year now!

  3. I feel your pain. My issue with facebook is the time suckage. I log in, look up to see the clock, and THREE HOURS HAVE DISAPPEARED. Just wait til you unfriend someone and then they send you another friend request! Adventures in awkwardness await you, my dear!

  4. No kids here, but I have adult nieces and nephews and when they post pictures, I “like”, but that’s all. So my little bit of advice: “NEVER join in when your kids are conversing with people their own age. You will ALWAYS sound like an idiot.”

    • Hey, that’s another lesson I just learned! I made one tiny little comment and my daughter’s response was, “uh, mom, would you mind if I deleted your comment?” She’s too polite to admit it, but she’d rather I just interact with her in person, in the privacy of our own home, not out THERE.

  5. Sorry to alarm you by sending a friend request 12 seconds after your account went live :-) Seriously though, in my infinite FB experience, unless you are one of the really popular kids, it tends to level off for most of us older folks at somewhere between 100-300 friends. I figure the percentage of stalkers and serial killers in every 100-300 people has to be pretty low, so its all good. You’re daughter is right about the farmville people – that’s frickin’ annoying… and there’s the sympathy seekers… and the tell you everything I’m doing every single minute people. You’ll get some strange friend requests and yes you need to be careful, but I think what’s more important than who you friend, is not to post a bunch of personal information every day… like “Yeah baby! I’m so pumped up… on VACATION for the next two weeks… forgot to lock all my doors though… I’m so silly!”

    • Popularity was never one of my problems. That all sounds very reassuring, but it’s going to take me a while to feel comfortable. After fighting it for so long, it’s kind of unnerving to see myself on FB, ya know?

  6. Facebook does tend to even out after the first few days; there are relatives whom I have gotten to reconnect with that I wouldn’t have been able to without Facebook, since my family is scattered all over the place. However, my daughter is not on Facebook yet.

    So, I’m trying to get up the courage to see if you would accept my friend request or not – I’m not sure I could handle the rejection! :)

    Have a great day!

    Nancy
    http://www.workingmomadventures.com

  7. You can always right-click on those Farmville requests and choose “Hide all Farmville” It is great to keep in closer touch with family and friends that are spread out all over, and you wouldn’t normally call or e-mail (I wouldn’t send a one or two sentence e-mail, but on FB it’s accepted!), and for that reason I love it. My son has stayed my friend, but even if he deletes my posts directly to his wall, it’s ok – at least he read them! And you can always send private messages…

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