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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Facebook: The jury is still out

Scene:  A couple of days ago a well-meaning person foisted this thing called Facebook on an unsuspecting neophyte (me).  That, by itself, would have been manageable from a damage-control standpoint.  I adapt easily to new situations.  Usually.

But in the process of exploring this strange new nether-world, either they or I inadvertently invited everyone in my gmail address book to 'become friends'.

Wackiness ensued.

Look, while somewhat embarrassing, sending an unsolicited invitation to everyone in one's email address book is not necessarily a bad thing.  Right?   I mean, just because gmail dutifully adds everyone to my address book that has ever sent me an email (or to whom I've ever replied), I shouldn't be worried or embarrassed, right?

Actually, the only thing that saved me from humiliation on a much grander scale is that I periodically go through my gmail address book and weed out people I can't identify (mostly one-time commenters on my blog) and/or those I can't imagine ever having to email.  So yeah, most of the people who received invites to become my 'Facebook Friend' this week are actually people with whom I wouldn't necessarily mind maintaining contact.

But to the 50 or 60 people who emailed me or sent me Facebook messages saying something along the lines of "Um, who the hell are you and how the hell do I know you?", please accept my deepest apologies and feel free to go back to your regularly scheduled lives. 

Likewise, if anyone 'friended' me out of guilt or laziness... feel free to 'unfriend' me.  I swear on a stack of bourbons that I'm not a stalker and I'm not going to ambush you in a chat-room late some stormy evening asking tearfully why you don't want to be my friend.

However, there have been some serendipitous results from this whole Facebook debacle.  I've reconnected with several people who had slipped off my radar for a few years (I've meant to write them... honest!), and I've also been able to actually see what several of my regular commenters look like (Hi NRG!).

Anyway, like I said in the title of this post.  I have no idea whether Facebook will turn out to be a blessing or a curse... or simply another in a long list of pratfalls I've executed during my colorful and exciting life. 

For all I know, Facebook may be a forum reserved exclusively for the young (or young at heart), and my intrusion there is akin to walking through the local mall wearing a 'Hello Kitty' backpack. 

But for now, whatever embarrassment I've had to endure since being unceremoniously thrown into the deep end of the Facebook pool seems to have been mitigated by the warm welcome I've received from 'friends' (in the traditional sense of the word) around the world.


Posted by David Bogner on July 5, 2007 | Permalink


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Facebook is a strange creature, I know! It's become a status thing among young people here ("how many friends do YOU have?")...I myself do not particularly rate in this category (of course, I haven't mass emailed all of my address book either!) ;-).
But, I think Facebook is open to all ages, David... so don't put on that backpack just yet (although if you do, post photos!). A friend of mine had a similar experience where some site that she put her info on sent multiple reminders to EVERYONE on her address list that her birthday was approaching... This technology stuff can get a bit much for me sometimes!

Posted by: nrg | Jul 5, 2007 11:13:48 AM

Wow..you're incredibly self centered and full of yourself

Posted by: anonymous | Jul 5, 2007 12:01:41 PM

nrg... I seem to bark my shins on the sharp edges of technology more often than most people I know. I wonder why that is? :-)

anonymous... Guilty as charged. Of course, I could spend a little time writing about your sad little excuse for a life there in Cincinnati Ohio [no offense intended to the functional members of that fine community] that is apparently so devoid of purpose and direction that you find yourself up in the middle of the night leaving gratuitously disparaging comments on total stranger's [self-centered] blogs. But of course, that would require me to look beyond my belly button... and we've already established that that isn't happening any time soon. Does that about cover it? Hmmm???

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 5, 2007 12:21:00 PM

my intrusion there is akin to walking through the local mall wearing a 'Hello Kitty' backpack.

Thank you, I liked my freshly pulled Espresso til now. ;)

I have a free month's membership for Xing to give away; that's probably more your size of, erm, shoes.

Posted by: Account Deleted | Jul 5, 2007 2:32:46 PM

I admit I was a little surprised to find an email invitation from you to be a friend on Facebook.
I thought, "Wow, David is going to work in a new medium now, too?"
I've only ventured to Facebook a handful of times in the past couple of weeks, and that's 'cause people have invited me to be their friend. I'm afraid it'll become a new addiction, so I'm trying to stay FAR FAR AWAY!

Posted by: Pearl | Jul 5, 2007 3:58:02 PM

At least, Now, i know that I don't have to be THAT embarrassed to "friend" you...

But, I think its a wonderful thing. I did not get an invite from you, (or I did, but I don't even remember my password to that e-mail account). You were on a friends friends list... with my real name of course, so you may still not know who I am.

So, we actually have a real live mutual friend.

Um.. ya, you still may not know who I am since I blog under a different name.

Posted by: Shevy | Jul 5, 2007 4:01:16 PM

Believe me: the Jury will never go in. I posted about it myself on similar themes back in April (and there’s a link to a hilarious Facebook song somewhere in the comments) and I’m still undecided if it has ruined or raised my quality of life. And yes, we probably are too old (“we” being anyone out of college) but who cares, it’s fun!

Posted by: PP | Jul 5, 2007 4:01:48 PM

Trep- you should check out the pieces in Slate and The Washington Post about the non-youngsters who have joined Facebook and their experiences with it. They are pretty amusing.

Posted by: Annie | Jul 5, 2007 4:34:02 PM

I've seen a few people make the mistake you did - inviting people in your address book who don't currently have Facebook accounts. I almost made the same one, but happened to notice it in time.

I don't think there's anything inherently "young" about Facebook. It's not like the goofy MySpace, which seems much more teeny-bopper (and yet somehow still has more mature members.)

The thing about Facebook is that it started out only for university students, and only somewhat recently became available for the general public. So the percentage of university students is much higher than their population share, and that reflects on the average age of the Facebook membership. But in the couple months that I've been on I've already seen a change, and I expect within the next year to have the distinction between young and old become much less marked.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jul 5, 2007 4:49:33 PM

That's some very funny background info there! I was sort of wondering where the invite came from. In any case, I'll try to make sure to wear my Hello Kitty backpack to the mall at the same time so we'll both look a little less crazy.

Posted by: RaggedyMom | Jul 5, 2007 5:08:04 PM

LOL... actually, you're not the first person, who went through, uh, this predicament! (I actually ALMOST did the same thing a couple of times as well). That's all right, though, Facebook is just harmless fun, and yes, it is open to everybody although it started out as a student networking site.

Posted by: Irina | Jul 5, 2007 5:17:07 PM

Oh, so THAT's why I got a friend invite from you... still it's nice, even if it was by accident. :P Anyways don't worry about it, everyone friends everyone there, at least from what I've seen. So, welcome!

Posted by: Chantyshira | Jul 5, 2007 6:02:03 PM

I don't think I ever received an invitation. Wouldn't you know it, even in the blogosphere I am picked last. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jul 5, 2007 6:51:19 PM

*chuckles* Ah, facebook. Don't let it take over your life... there are a number of college students who can blame their 2.5 GPA on facebook.

Good luck sorting out your new 'friends'!

Posted by: matlabfreak | Jul 5, 2007 6:54:08 PM

David, These days FACEBOOK is the communications medium of college and some high school students. My 20 yr. old is absolutely addicted to it. She won't let me have access to her account, because she doesn't want "adults" to see what her fellow students are up to. But I also warn her, other folks who are NOT college students troll FACEBOOK. So never post anything you don't want potential employers, law enforcement authoriies, university deans, etc. to know. Assume everything posted is in the public domain. But mostly FACEBOOK is designed for mass communications, party invites, site for personal blogging, and for posting photos. Be well.

Posted by: Helene | Jul 5, 2007 7:14:51 PM

Besides, I know more about you then someone I went to school with.. all about your bees, your kids names, I've seen pictures of them for the past few years....

Posted by: Shevy | Jul 5, 2007 7:24:23 PM

You know the problem with facebook? You come across all these people you don't necessarily want to reconnect with.

Posted by: Abbi | Jul 5, 2007 9:11:59 PM

a. ... Sorry to waste your coffee. :-)

Pearl... No, David has enough trouble with the medium he's already chosen. :-)

Shevy... Uh, thanks for clearing that up. :-)

PP... Glad to hear someone else has a 'what do I care?' attitude. :-)

Annie... Thanks for the link. Once I get the kids to bed and can do some surfing I'll go check it out. Much appreciated.

Dave (Balashon)... I really don't like the fact that whenever you do anything to your facebook page it automatically gives you the default option of inviting everyone of your friends to follow your lead. Once tap of the enter key and it's instance humiliation all over again! :-)

RaggedyMom... Won't we be a pair? :-)

Irina... Yeah but at least you're still a student and won't appear so stalkerish if you accidentally invite everyone in the free world to be your friend. :-)

Chantyshira... Well thank you for being my friend. I was pleased to see your picture there among the first people who said yes. :-)

Jack... I'm surprised you didn't get one. I keep your email handy for when I need to collect on my bets. :-)

matlabfreak... Too bad I didn't have facebook when I was in university. It would have been great to raise my GPA to 2.5 :-)

Helene... I'd be less worried about deans and cops and more worried about stalkers if I were you.

Shevy... Just one of the bonuses of living in the store window. :-)

Abbi... I haven't had one of those yet, but your probably right... it's only a matter of time. At least I can honestly say that I'm on good terms with pretty much everyone I ever dated, so no land mines there. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 5, 2007 9:38:46 PM

Facebook IS addictive.

"I swear on a stack of bourbons"

Interesting one..Whats a stack of bourbons?

Posted by: jacob | Jul 6, 2007 1:35:07 AM

Ah, now you can "friend" your kids, just like Ari Solomont has done. Best way to know your kids' friends. Just don't expect a positive reaction from your kids.

No one is too old for Facebook at this point.

I haven't succumbed to it just yet. I still think it's sort-of evil. I know I won't hold out forever, though.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jul 6, 2007 2:02:12 AM

...walking through the local mall wearing a 'Hello Kitty' backpack.

Now wouldn't that be a sight to see? ;)

Posted by: orieyenta | Jul 6, 2007 3:25:56 AM

I can't imagine signing up on Facebook. LOL I've heard about it and read about it but that's as far as it's gone.


Posted by: Chani | Jul 6, 2007 5:37:49 AM

Aw gee David, I feel so left out. I wasn't invited to become one of your 'friends".

Between this and your annual Passover shoutouts you do to all of your buddies, I'm really beginning to develop some self-esteem issues here. : P

Posted by: jaime | Jul 6, 2007 6:29:25 AM

I keep your email handy for when I need to collect on my bets. :-)

Funny that you say that. Yesterday I had lunch with another blogger. As I headed off to my engagement I passed by Jeff's and smiled wistfully as I realized that you wouldn't enjoy those items this year. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jul 6, 2007 7:43:09 AM

Awww, so you're telling me I got deleted from your address book (I didn't receive an invite)? And here I am a faithful reader and feed subscriber (although infrequent commenter). Bummer. ;-)

Posted by: Fern R | Jul 6, 2007 11:31:24 AM

«poke poke»

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Jul 6, 2007 2:51:43 PM

But you look so sweet in your 'Hello Kitty' backpack...

Honestly, now I only feel weird for not thinking that it was weird when you send me a friend request. I guess I over-estimated your level of coolness. :-)

Posted by: Cara | Jul 6, 2007 3:40:36 PM

Hey! I didn't get one either. Are you keeping my email address with Jack's?

Actually, I guess that would be OK with me...

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jul 6, 2007 4:44:52 PM

jacob...It was actually a play on 'swear on a stack of bibles', but the more I think about it the more I'm tempted to try it. :-)

tnspr569... I may be too old for facebook, but Ari and Gili are way too young!

orieyenta... No worse than the time my wife (then fiance) was appalled to see me walking on the boardwalk in Miami Beach wearing khaki shorts, a light blue oxford shirt and a striped rep tie. It still amazes me that she married me. :-)

Chani... You know, there is a group on facebook for pretty much every interest and geographic location. I'd be very surprised if there wasn't an 'I wish I was in Thailand' group. :-)

Jaime... This time you can't blame me. My theory is that it only invited people from my address book who were facebook members. I promise you are in my address book and near and dear to my heart. Pinky swear even!

Jack... What are the stats as of today?

Fern... As I said to Jaime, you are certainly in my address book. I think it is because you aren't a facebook member that it didn't send you an invitation. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. :-)

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)... What the heck is this poke thing. Several people have poked me and it has left me feeling slightly violated.

Cara... overestimating my coolness is one of the easiest things in the universe to accomplish.

Doctor Bean... See my responses to Jaime and Fern. I think if you (and Jack) had been a facebook member it would have sent you an invitation.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 6, 2007 6:31:01 PM

Yes, I accepted that Facebook invite and smiled to myself, because I figured that gmail had been evil to you. :-)

Huzzah for you! Especially the part about not tearfully asking people to "be your friend." I laughed out loud. Pure excellence, as always.

Posted by: Chana | Jul 6, 2007 9:48:04 PM

Absolutely irrelevant post:

Latvia unveils memorial to people who saved Jews during WWII
By Associated Press

Latvia's top government officials and Jewish leaders on Wednesday unveiled a memorial to Latvians who tried to save Jews during World War II.

Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga unveiled the memorial, a large white wall tilting on short legs that are inscribed with the names of those who saved Jews.

"These people - 269 in all if I am not mistaken - put their lives to risk. This was a special kind of heroism," Vike-Freiberga, whose term as president ends on
Saturday, told the 200 people gathered at the ceremony in downtown Riga.

The memorial, designed by Latvian artist Elina Lazdina, is located on the site of a synagogue that was burned down on July 4, 1941, killing an unidentified number of Jews who had hidden inside. July 4 is therefore regarded a day of
mourning for Latvia's Jewish community.

Some 70,000 Jews were killed in Latvia during the war.
Any chance of getting some or all of these 269 named as Righteous Gentiles?

BTW, Jewish percentage of total Latvian population at the start of WW2: 08%. Total Latvian casualties -- civilian and military -- during WW2: 210 000. Jewish percentage of Latvian casualties: 33%. Number of Latvian Jews who died in combat: 0.

I am so f***ing serious about finding one of these 84-year-old Lettische Sicherdiensttruppen and killing his bony ass that I can't sleep nights. Any chance I can get the Mosaad to bring them to Israel to be tried as war criminals? They so f***ing are, and I want them dead.

Posted by: antares | Jul 7, 2007 4:26:11 PM

And here I thought you actually liked me... I feel so cheap.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 8, 2007 6:34:24 AM

I forget why I joined facebook, I think my friend Karoli sent me an invitation.

I too am waiting for it to be useful.

Hey, reading the post about meeting up with people: maybe in 2009 I'll make it to Israel.

Posted by: Liz | Jul 8, 2007 7:55:42 PM

Chana... I appreciate your sensitivity. :-)

antares... Sheesh, what got under your skirt? :-) I haven's see you this worked up about something in, well ever!

Bob... It's not you... it's me. :-)

Liz... Consider this your open invitation. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 9, 2007 9:24:03 AM

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