Monday, August 11, 2008

5 Facebook Foibles


OK, this is yet another post that has nothing to do with running, but I was wondering how many of you actively use Facebook?

There was a time when my use of it could've bordered on a DSM manual entry. ;-) If you'd looked up the definition of "Facebookitis," you'd have probably seen a picture of me next to the definition. ;-) In fact, it would not exactly be startling news if I were to tell you that I won the "Internet Junkie Queen" award at my recent 20th high school reunion. OK, so I also tied with some other people for the "Freebird" award (i.e., the person who's living or has lived the farthest away)," but it's the first award that I'm still trying to live down. LOL.

(Speaking of which: Bet you can't guess what category I was voted for in my high school year book?! Ready for this one? ..."Class actress." Surprised?! NOT! See, I told you that I was such a drama queen. Hahahahaha. Bet you didn't think I meant that quite so literally, eh?!)

Anyhow, as I was saying, Facebookitis is a serious condition that must be treated with a round of alternating hot & cold compresses & removal from the computer for atleast a week. Withdrawal symptoms are certain to happen, but it's worth it for your sanity & your social life with actual real, live people. ;-)

One interesting thing about Facebook is that it has several tools you can use to assess your Facebook friends. Now whether or not you actually know these people is of course a completely different issue (!), but I'm always amused by how people perceive themselves & each other.

For example, someone recently assessed me as "quiet." Quiet?! Do they even really know me at all?! Of all the adjectives in the world used to describe myself, "quiet" would certainly NOT be one of them. The only time I'm quiet is when I (a) have come home from a hard day's work or an incredibly exhausting run & have not an ounce of energy to utter a single word, (b) am REALLY mad at someone (Erik knows that when I get REALLY quiet, it's not a good sign! ;-) ), (c) am writing & thus am preoccupied with thinking & typing, (d) eating (Talking with your mouth full is rude! ;-) ) or (e) am sleeping. ;-)

Of course, I wouldn't exactly say that I'm non-stop blabber-mouth either (actually people who constantly blab all the time without really saying much of anything annoy me to no end!), but "quiet"? I think not.

Clearly this person was imagining a version of me from long ago that I haven't yet met myself. ;-)

Also, I noticed that I recently assessed this same person as "sarcastic," to which they likewise disagreed. Well, I haven't seen this person in over 20 years, but that's the way I certainly remember them. ;-) Either they've changed considerably over the years, have gotten a lobotomy that I didn't know about, or perhaps we don't really know each other very well at all. I'd probably take option #3. ;-0 It looks like we might well need a refresher course in each other's personalities. Maybe we can meet the next time I go home for a visit, take a crash course on each other,"cram" like crazy, & then take a second crack at passing our "Characteristics" assessment "exams." ;-)

I also noticed that people who are assessed as "famous" or "sexy" or "adorable" will inevitably agree with the person who generously bestowed them with these complimentary adjectives, whether or not the descriptions actually bear any truth in them or not! ;-) Well, it doesn't exactly help that there's absolutely no grey area or middle-ground either: It's not like you can say, "Well, sometimes I think I'm sexy, but not that time I ralphed in my mom's Buick I borrowed without her knowledge at 3 am in the morning," or "Sure, I'm adorable, but don't think I'm cocky because I admitted it." You can't add qualifiers like "Yeah, I'm famous, but only amongst my friends. And what I'm exactly famous for is something that only my friends need to know." ;-) Or how about this one: "Yes, I think I'm sexy, but not when I first wake up & greet the world & my unfortunate partner with breath that would scare away a fire-breathing dragon." And what does it mean if you disagree with the personal who assessed you? Will your friends be insulted that you disagreed? If you don't think you're sexy, does that mean you suffer from low self-esteem, or are you just being modest?!

There's also a great potential for insulting someone or hurting a friend's feelings, whether you meant to or not. Some of the applications, like "No Mercy," which is basically like the "evil version of the Characteristics app," are clearly meant for cold-hearted @#$&%*s who don't have any friends, or won't be needing them for very much longer. ;-)

It's weird how people think of themselves & how other people think of them. Facebook is like one big social experiment, which psychologists will probably be analyzing & writing a massive tome about in 50 years' time. ;-)

Some of the "truth-seeking" intents of these Facebook apps are kind of like blogging in a way: If I put myself out there & ask people, "What do you think of me or my blog?", do I really honestly want to know the answer if it's not what I want to hear?! Is this how dictatorships start?! ;-) Too many "yes" men & not enough honesty? What if people are constructive in their critiques? Would I rather hear an honest critique from a friend or from an absolute stranger? Which would be easier to bear? Will people really tell you what they think if they aren't logging comments as "Anonymous"? (Incidentally, I've disabled that feature on my blog. Hahahaha.)

Well, I think it depends upon the intent & delivery of the critique. Is the advice constructive & well-meaning, & also conveyed with wit?! If so, I think I could stomach it. What about you? How do you feel about people telling you the truth? Would you rather people keep on their social filters, or take off their masks? Would you rather be like Oedipus Rex & have your eyes poked out but be able to "see" the truth, or remain "blind" but still be physically able to see?!


Andrew is getting fit said...

The key to good communication is brevity. :)

Is that too cheeky?

cyberpenguin said...

Ha-ha-ha. Very funny. ;-)

Dane said...

I just flat out do not "get" facebook.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't want the truth. That's why I'm online. ;)

Quiet? I just read this post so far and I already can tell you are far from quiet.

cyberpenguin said...

@Dane - Believe it or not, I find that Facebook can be useful for social & business networking, advertising one's business, blog, or charity/social cause. It also makes it easy for me to keep up with my friends in a centralized way -- to see what my friends are doing & thinking, especially those who live in far-away places, or whom I don't often get the chance to see. It DOES actually has a value beyond time-wasting & playing games. ;-) The trick is to know how to use it to your advantage, & not get addicted. ;-)

@justarunningfool - LOL! How perceptive you are. ;-)

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