Sunday, November 15, 2009

Facebook for Fifty Year Olds

I confess that I love Facebook. My daughter calls me a Facebook "stalker". Who I am stalking I have no idea. Apparently reading the random posts of people I have become "friends" with makes me a stalker? All I know about Facebook it that it has allowed me to reconnect with many old friends and colleagures that I would have otherwise lost contact with. It is a little bit of joy to see a "request" to be a friend on my page, or a little number show up on my inbox, alerting me to a friend's message.

Ok, sometimes it's a bit shocking to "meet up" with friends you've known so long ago via this medium. I saw a recent "Castle" episode where the main character's mother - say late fifties, early sixties was learning how to navigate a social networking site. Her dilemma was whether to post a recent photo of herself or a more flattering image from, shall we say, a "few" years back. Hilarious. I know just how that character feels. It's standing on that teeter-totter between being totally honest and being just a bit nervous about what others will think of the current "you," and what that may mean to me. For the record, I have not posted old photos on my site. I am who I am - whatever. I have both good and completely unflattering phhotos posted on my site. But I can see the temptation to do it - just post the good ones, or the OLD ones. Some photos of old friends are shocking to see. No hair, gray hair, wrinkles, heavier, thinner...etc. We tend to think of people how we knew them, not what they have become. That's why reunions are so strange. (There were many I barely recognized at my 30th class reunion.) Still - the voyeuristic aspects of remeeting old friends is positively intriguing and fascinating.

It's funny - our kids think we are on Facebook to see what they are doing. Honestly I could care less. Yeah, it does hurt my feelings that my own daughter won't be "friends" with me online. How ridiculous. I can't even tag photos of my daughter on my own page because we're not "facebook friends." I have this discussion with lots of my friends though. We really could care less about the drunken goings-on of our 20 something kids. We are there to meet up with OUR friends and former colleagues. To reconnect with some aspects of our OWN youth. Honestly, we aren't interested in living yours, kids.

I don't play the games or rarely do the weird little quizzes that the young people play on Facebook. I guess lots of people do play the Gangster Wars or Farmville or whatever. To me, I'd rather be having real conversations. Or IMing with nieces and nephews, etc. It's just such a wonderful thing to be connected. It makes me feel like there is someone out there who cares enough to look me up. Or to IM me. Or to post a funny video they've seen so friends can share it. It's the new email. (Does anyone use regular email anymore?)

So I'm going to keep facebooking little comments to friends, and throwing my two cents in on political debates and have long conversations with friends and cousins online that I otherwise would never have had if I was emailing (do I have the right internet address?) or using (God forbid) snail mail. And if that makes me a "stalker", well, then I guess there is a new definition of that word. Facebook friend.

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