Facebook's Siren Song
I just joined Facebook after having received a bunch of invitations in recent months. However, the jury is still out on whether I'll remain an active Facebook member, or a member at all.
On the plus side, Facebook is a fun way to have old friends find and contact you. Likewise, Facebook is another avenue to keep up and communicate with your current friends and loved ones. Through Facebook, I have learned some interesting things about my friends, such as the fact that a number of them have adopted the middle name "Hussein."
However, Facebook has a couple of significant minuses. First, Facebook involves a loss of privacy. Depending on how you adjust your settings and what information you list, your Facebook profile may include your full name, your photo, your email address, your mailing address, your place of employment, your interests and activities, etc. This is not necessarily information that you would want to place into the public domain, especially consolidated on a page or two. Everyone from stalkers to marketers could then use Facebook to follow your life and make unwanted contact with you. To avoid this intrusion, you might have to be vigilant in tweaking your Facebook settings to maximize your privacy, but, in doing so, you might defeat the reason for joining Facebook in the first place, i.e., making yourself accessible for others to find you.
The other downside is that, like Twitter, Facebook can be a giant time-suck. The "What are you doing right now?" box at the top of your Facebook home page is almost identical to Twitter. I'm surprised at how many people are using this device to update their Facebook pages during the day, and at how many people are then responding to these messages. My Facebook "wall" is now covered with this graffiti. Similarly, I have received a number of comments on my posted photos. While this attention is amusing and flattering, who can afford to be lured away from work and other activities by yet another attractive, time-consuming technology? Who has the discipline not to get inhaled into this giant and ever-growing vortex of Internet inanity? Besides, I'm already too busy cat bowling and reading hopelessly corny email jokes.
While it has been enjoyable to have old and current friends get in touch with me via Facebook, somehow I don't think I'm going to be a very good Facebooker.
(Charlie Chaplin "Modern Times" photo from Teachwithmovies.org)