Stand back everyone – I recently joined Facebook. That’s right, this 47-year-old mom is the newest member of the social networking site designed for and by 19-year-old college kids. Facebook has now made a full transition to being wholly uncool.
Before I had even posted a profile photo, I made the biggest rookie mistake of them all. I naively “friended” everyone in my address book when I signed on, thinking something along the lines of Gee, this’ll be fun!
“Gee” was actually part of my thought. That's all the proof you need that Facebook is wearing floods.
What I didn’t know was that my indiscriminate We Are the World friending essentially gave everyone I know—intimately, casually and professionally--permission to eavesdrop on all my conversations.
And comment on them.
And let me know what they are making for dinner.
So, let’s see, who is in my address book? My children’s teachers, my college journalism professor, PTA board members, my younger sister, the guy I lost my virginity to, my teenage nieces, my husband, a pro football player I dated between my first and second marriages, coworkers from my dormant corporate life, a Mormon guy I network with, my Buddhist brother, my current business clients, my host sister from the Portuguese family I lived with when I was 18, the guy I travelled through Europe with, the guy I kissed in high school who turned out to be gay, a dozen friends from elementary school I barely know, our babysitter, our Girl Scout Troop leader, a few current friends’ husbands, a smattering of my kids’ friends’ parents, my 72-year old mother, my rodeo relatives in Montana, my old college roommate who is a lesbian school teacher, another one who is an artist, a cousin who lives in Oregon, my other cousin, my cousin’s husband, former playgroup moms, a comedian I once groped at a comedy club, the techie guy I did a high school project with 30 years ago, cast members from my gig as a nun in Sound of Music, my realtor.
Joining Facebook, it turns out, is a lot like attending your own wedding reception. Only they don’t start clearing the tables a midnight. I find it awkward and noisy and neverending clatter. Best of all it is a decievingly close-knit forum in which to bring together a bunch of people who would never otherwise choose to be together, but are gathered here today to bear witness to your lifetime commitment to dorkiness.
Every time I log on I’m a little on edge. I wonder if anyone will stand up to give an embarrassing toast divulging some of my most unsavory moments. Will past drug use, for example, be jokingly referenced within earshot of my coworkers and child’s second grade teacher? Will photos of me smooching an ex be shared with my husband, nieces and journalism professor?
Just like a wedding reception, but without cake.
That is, of course, unless you choose to use one of the many popular applications available for merriment on Facebook, such as “Food Fight.” This particular app allows you to choose a foodstuff to toss at a lucky friend -- Boston Cream pie or plate of Jell-O maybe. Or to let them know you would if you could.
And there are questionnaires that show all your casual aquaintances how you scored on the “Who is your celebrity boyfriend?” and “What TV mom are you?” quizzes. (Will Smith and Carol Brady, if you must know.) There are apps that enable you to send virtual drinks, gifts, kisses, chocolate to anyone you choose. And it is customary to return the favor if you receive such a gift. If you know what you are doing. Which I don’t.
Yesterday, I received a “Hug” from my foreign exchange sister in Lisbon. It turned up on my Wall with an image of Snoopy hugging Woodstock. I attempted to send one right back to her because I adore my sister and am delighted that Facebook makes it easy for us to stay connected and share photos of our kids.
I'm a little fuzzy on what exactly I did, but apparently I sent the Snoopy Hug to my entire friend list--all 127 of them. My professional business clients, my friends’ husbands, my kid’s teacher, the guy from high school. Not that I don’t like these people. After all, they are my friends – according to Facebook conventions. But, I’m wondering if there’s a socially acceptable way to say I didn’t mean to hug you.
If there’s an app for that, I hope my realtor understands.