After writing a post titled “Never Surrender,” what do I do? I’ve surrendered. To Facebook. Actually, to my high school friends’ entreaties to join Facebook.
I’ve never been interested in these “social networking” sites. I maintain a personal website and I have this blog, so I feel I’m sufficiently cyber active. Besides, I’ve little interest in cyber chatting. I’d rather call you up and chat live than IM. After all, I can talk faster than I can type.
Also, I normally like to check something out before joining. Because I wasn’t a member of Facebook I couldn’t do any recon to see what it was all about. That right there was suspicious. Why won’t Facebook let you check it out? It’s like buying a “mystery” bag. (A friend of mine wisely said: the best surprise is no surprise.)
I suspected Facebook was a “website / blog lite.” For folks who didn’t have the time and/or interest to do a full website or blog but wanted to put up photos, share info, etc in an informal, more interactive way. One aspect I find “interesting” about Facebook is how certain posts are replicated across other Facebook pages. That is probably the unique feature of these social networking sites. (I’ve not yet figured out which ones are replicated and which ones aren’t.)
Also, the prospect of regularly checking out a bunch of Facebook pages seemed an additional time burden that I wasn’t eager to take on. I know my priorities….playing poker, watching poker, thinking about poker, Vegas, and planning vacations. Did I leave anything out? Ooops… writing a weekly post for this blog! 😉
Periodically, one or another of my high school classmates would urge me to join Facebook. I resisted these suggestions for all the reasons I just cited.
Then one weekend, “Gary” (who I’ve continually been in contact with for the almost 40 years since we left Manila in 1970) called me up to chat. During the call, he mentioned that he had joined Facebook and that I should too because a lot of our schoolmates are there.
Now I was surprised to learn that Gary had joined Facebook. He’s always been more of a “call up and chat” type. I found his decision to join Facebook… “interesting.” But not compelling.
I’m not going to do something just because everyone else is doing it. (In both poker and the stock market it is often wise to do the opposite of what most others are doing, such as buying stocks when everyone’s selling or folding when most of the table is coming into the hand or there‘s lots of raising.)
But then, over a 24-hour period shortly after Gary called, I received over 20 e-mails from high school friends that they had designated me as a Facebook “friend” and that I needed to “confirm” that I knew them. Clicking the “confirm” link brought me to a page to join Facebook.
Once I realized what the first few e-mails were about, I stopped reading the other ones, although I could see who sent them. But after all the other e-mails came in, I had to think about what was happening. Was it pure coincidence that 20+ of my high school friends decided within the same 24 hours to designate me as a Facebook “friend”? Or was there an organized conspiracy to flood my e-mail with all these requests as a concerted effort to get me to join up?
I decided on the conspiracy. (Just like the Roswell UFO crash cover up.) But if all these friends took the time to do this, who was I to say “no”? It’s one thing to decline one invitation, quite another to refuse a mass appeal. When your “barkada” (social group) says “the water’s fine, come on in”…
So I did it – I signed up with Facebook. It isn’t like it’s an irreversible decision. By joining, I could check Facebook out. And if I didn’t like it, I could just keep a very low profile. Rarely post on my page and just read posts of a few of my closer friends.
Once I completed the basic registration, I was taken to a screen to confirm all these pending friendship invitations. After clicking “accept” (or whatever it is) many times, I had about 25 friends. Wow…that was easy. I’ve already got 25 friends! A bit scary how many folks are on Facebook. Even my (and my wife’s) former boss, whose son married my cousin in the strangest small world story (which I previously posted about), is on Facebook.
It didn’t take me more than a day to discover that the easiest way to track down potential friends is see who my friends’ friends are. Many of them were sure to be other high school alums. And Facebook makes it easy: if a potential friend is not my friend, then there’s an “add” button. If someone is already my friend, then there’s no “add” button.
I quickly increased my friends to just under 90 within a few days. I thought that was pretty decent. That was way more friends than I had when I actually attended the school! (“Look Ma – I have friends!”)
Of course, I’m drawing from a much larger group, including alums who were in 6th grade when I was a senior but who are still in the very “tigas” (cool) decade of the 70‘s classes! As well as some alums who graduated before me. And friends of friends. Most of these friends I met through our reunions, although I may have known a sibling who was in the halls with me.
As I moved on through my initial friends‘ lists, I was amazed at how many friends some had. Marian, who was a cheerleader and I think a teen model too (and Miss Sophomore Class Queen my senior year), has over 630 friends. Heck, there were only about 400 of us in the entire high school when we were there!
(Sidebar: So I’m checking out Gary’s Facebook page and come across a photo of the two of us taken fairly recently when he visited his son who was an Air Force air traffic controller at a Panama City base and I had driven over for the day to visit. Under the photo, I noticed a comment from Marian asking why I “of all people” am not on Facebook. That comment is dated right before Gary called me to join. So Gary and Marian are my two prime suspects for organizing the e-mail campaign for me to join Facebook.)
Then there’s Andy, who has many siblings (including a brother in my class I played poker with back then) and so he knows alums from many classes through them. He has about 375 friends.
Let’s do some math here. If it takes me three seconds to figure out whether I remember a friend of either Marian or Andy, then it’ll take me about 50 minutes to review their list of friends. Minus no more than five minutes if all 90 of my friends are already friends with them, which I suspect.
But I’ve not accounted for the few seconds it’d take to invite someone to become a friend. So that 50 minutes is probably correct or even underestimated. Three seconds is not a long time to remember someone from about 40 years ago. And if it’s a woman who didn’t include her maiden name and I’m trying to recognize her from a recent photo compared to what she looked like 40 years ago….
Also, I’m realizing that having lots of friends has at least one drawback. Although I’m not sure, I think all (or at least many) of these friends’ posts on their page show up on my page too. Even with just 90 friends, checking out their posts and responding to some is gobbling up a lot of time. Time I could (and probably should) be using for writing this blog. Or doing something poker related.
I’d been on Facebook less than a week when another, ugly drawback emerged. More friends means more exposure to one of them being whacked by hackers. I received an e-mail which appeared to be from a friend but was really a virus / Trojan. Luckily, I saw his post that it was a virus before I checked my e-mail. Why is Facebook security so weak? I had heard about these problems and that was one reason I wasn’t enthusiastic about joining.
As a Facebook newbie, I’m still learning how it works. There’s something called “The Wall,” which is not a name I find attractive. I associate “wall” with “graffitti.” 😉 Not quite sure how the Wall differs from another page where most posts go.
Maybe I’ll put on my Wall: “Bawahal umihi dito.” That Tagalog phrase was often written on walls in Manila. It means: “do not urinate here.” A wall without it was fair game. But then, a wall with it was fair game too. (And for enquiring minds: yes, I probably used a few walls because when you gotta go, you gotta go and I was a “local.”)
Many of the Facebook posts are what we called “chismis” in Manila: small talk. One alum posted that he was in Korea drinking a beer. OK…. Another that he was going to have lunch with another alum. OK…. Marian, with the 600+ friends, posted that she’s looking forward to visiting her older brother (my classmate) in Holland soon. (Their father was a Dutch diplomat who married an Indonesian.) I hope to look “Dutch” up when I get to Holland.
I’ve discovered that Facebook has many features that are a form of advertising. Which is how they make the money to offer the site. You can “send” things to friends. But to do that, you have to allow the advertiser access to certain information. I suspect that your info is being used for marketing purposes. Or maybe the sender is the one getting spammed. I‘m not sending nothing to nobody! I don’t’ want them, or me, spammed. (No offense to my SPAM loving friends; the Philippines is a top SPAM-eating country, thanks to WW2 and has a SPAM-only restaurant.)
There are also games on Facebook. Nancy, a classmate who joined Gary and me in visiting the Seahorse Casino when we were in Manila, is playing Mafia Wars. (I ribbed her that those nights at the casino turned her to a life of crime, even if it is only virtual crime.) But these games also require that you allow the application to “access” information in your account. I suspect that information is being used for much more than the game. So I’m not playing any games either, which would only suck up more time anyway.
I’m probably going to have to place limits on how often I visit Facebook and how long I visit. Thing is, Facebook is so “now”, that reading a post from two days ago is very ancient history. Now if I were retired….
OK…I’m wrapping this up to go plan my retirement! But first, I gotta check my Facebook page…. Maybe someone’s coming to Tallahicky! 😉
The way we were:
Gary Marian Andy Nancy Sunday Blogger