Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Come Not to Praise Faceplant, But to Bury It.

A while ago, here, I posted some thoughts about Facebook. I'd noticed that people who haven't bothered to join seem to dismiss it out of hand as superficial, as if most day to day interaction in any medium isn't superficial. I generally praised Faceplant while acknowledging its triviality and weirdness. Now let's look at another side of its weirdness.

I have a number of friends, in both the real world- and FB-sense who, for whatever reason, don't really post much. I get little messages from Facebook alerting me that so-and-so is not with the program. Sometimes there are weirdly quantified and vaguely ominous statistical judgments: "Jane Doe is only 35% active". The implication is that they need to be dragged back into the party I guess, that they are not pulling their weight with the Balloon-Boy jokes or status-postings about breakfast fare.

I don't want to make too many assumptions about their lives, whether tech-averse, or introverse. So, I snooped. I got a prompt from FB about one friend I'd re-connected with in the past couple of years, and went to her "wall", where some of her activity is visible. She posts every few weeks, mostly concerning family, social and charitable events in her area. The most recent wall item was from her daughter, thanking her for help on her college application. Another bizarrely quantified 'status bar" thingie on the left informs us that her "progress" is 80% (?!). She seems pretty "active" to me, and I assume she can decide on her own "progress". What should I do- get on there and chide her for not playing enough Mafia Wars?

Yes, I made a case that FB can be a valuable tool for a very fulfilling kind of connection-making. But coming from a family full of certified luddites and techno-recluses ( I'm the only one even on FB), I have a bit of sympathy for those whose lives do not revolve around the key board. A lot of this sort of thing comes from the enclosed world of office culture- how many of us have been encouraged to feel shame by otherwise sensible friends for not checking our e-mail twice a day? And isn't it a bit ironic that some pasty-white cube-rat in Silicon Valley is sitting in judgment of our "activity" level?

Leave the techno-recluses alone! They'll join the Facebook "revolution" when they're good and ready.

Probably to bombard us with invitations to play "Mafia Wars".

Standard Disclaimer: Squishtoid is not now, nor has he ever been, interested in playing "Mafia Wars", so don't send any more invitations, or he will "hide" you, and "poke" you to death.

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