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Facebook

OK, I caved. I’m back on Facebook, as of Monday. I know, I know… But still, I don’t know if  caved is the right word. It definitely was not spurred by a dying-t0-reconnect impulse; I just decided I’d been way long enough for it not to be such a distraction for me.  And I’ve definitely become more, shall we say, suspicious of the entire aspect of this social media tool, so I’m treading extra carefully.

I’d closed my account initially because Facebook  can be one (or both) of two things: a great and terrible time waster, and an end-to-all-privacy free for all. But those things are totally manageable with a few simple rules.

The Do’s and Don’ts:

DO

Master the Comment Response vs. Wall Post Response
If your reply to a post on your wall is no biggie to be viewed by your friends but NOT open info to the commenter’s friends, post a comment on the wall post. If non-mutual friends don’t need to be on the know of every single detail, write your response on the friend’s wall (or just send a message) instead. (Ugh, yes it’s complicated! But you really DO have to be this intricate!)

Keep Your Profile to the Minimum
Name, birthdate if you like getting birthday shoutouts, and favorite books, TV shows,whatever (you know, just to appear somewhat interesting). The more you add on to that, the more you enter into that sneaky and insidious no-more-privacy territory…

Get Email Notifications
You would think that opting for MORE emails would be a hassle, but really it has the opposite effect! I just started doing this, and it’s awesome. There’s far less temptation to be sucked in to the not-so-earth-shattering updates on your Newsfeed if you can just get friends’ wall posts and messages sent to your email. Yes, you could just tinker with your Newsfeed options, but Facebook has a sneaky way of optimizing what you pick and finding inane little tidbits to distract you. (Do I really need to know that not just one but TEN of my friends changed their profile pictures?) Trust me: keeping logins to a minimum is half the battle!!

DON’T

Hit the “Unfriend” Button Unless You’re REALLY Sure
Umm, yeah,  it will definitely make you feel foolish when you have to explain to someone that you  unfriended them in a moment of annoyance, and will they please re-accept your friend request? Especially if they’re a member of the opposite sex, because they probably didn’t even know they annoyed you. On the same token though, don’t…

Hesitate to Unfriend People You Will Likely Never See Again
It’s pretty easy to gauge whether or not someone would even say hello to you if they ran into you on the street. Or if you’d say hello to them. If an exchange of words in person would be awkward, why keep them on your friend list?

Be Afraid to Ignore
Facebook is nothing if not one big, gigantic social pressure cesspool. Don’t you hate when you haven’t had time to get back to someone so they resort to the just-reminding-you-that-I’m-still-waiting wall post that is innocently disguised as an “oh hi” message? We’ve all done it. Don’t give in to the pressure! And if something really irks you, let it slide. Ignoring is often the best combat!

Select the “Keep Me Logged In” Option
This isn’t an Internet security or privacy issue. I mean, it CAN be, but I’ve discovered that simply logging out and logging in every time I wanna use Facebook prevents me from checking it a gazillion times a day! Who knew? Yes, sometimes laziness CAN have benefits!

Do you feel like Facebook sucks away too much time or privacy? Do you have any special preferences or keep any specific privacy settings?

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I’ve always been slow to accept new technology. I don’t really do gadgets, never have. I don’t have a smartphone, an iPod, or any Blu-Ray DVDs. And I’m pretty sure somewhere in my bedroom there lies a Walkman that just never made it to the trash pile 10 years ago.

Still, I’ve slowly been opening up to the idea of broadening my technology horizons. An iPad, perhaps. A Kindle, maybe. After all, we’re not exactly gonna go in reverse. Technology is only gonna get more intricate, more prevalent. Am I missing out in love, life, and the pursuit of all things happy by clinging to the tried and true?

It’s been a month since I closed my Facebook account, and so far all is well. Not even a chunk of sky has fallen. So in the interest of figuring out if new(er) technologies {or Facebook reactivation} are in my future, I’ve come up with a list. Is technology good or evil for my quasi love life?

The Pros

  • No more waiting. For the phone to ring, that is. Now that texting and IMing have become the norm, we gals don’t have to sit by the phone for the guy to call, because he won’t. Ever. We can just tell ourselves that he’s been driving…for an entire week nonstop…and is diligently keeping both hands away from that touchpad.
  • Online dating. You know, if that’s your thing. A menu of options whenever, wherever.
  • What distractions? Seriously, who needs to sit and wait when you can stalk your friends/enemies/exes, play Scramble, and stream music all at the same time?
  • Instant consolation and advice. Technology means we’re just one status update or Tweet away from plenty of advice from any of hundreds of contacts.
  • Fewer bad first dates. That’s what a quick Google search is for, right? Weed out the bad ones, at least on the big stuff that can be gleaned from that questionable profile photo.

The Cons

  • No filtering out creepers. Technology is CONVENIENT. A lot of great, awesome guys take advantage of that convenience. And a lot of weird, lazy loser guys who might not make any grand effort otherwise also know how to use technology to be…creepy.
  • No privacy. You need only Google, well, yourself to see how much info is out there to all, not to mention prospective love interests. (Double con if your name is not very common!)
  • 24/7 contact.
    Great for emergencies, but it also leaves the door wide open for unreasonable pressure to respond…on someone else’s timeline. It seems the greater the number of ways you can be contacted (and seen logging in and status-updating), the less likely someone is to believe that you are actually busy. You know, that reason that used to be totally LEGIT for fully employed, gym-going, 7-8-hours-of-sleep-needing adults?

OK, so maybe I’m not quite sold. I’m just very wary of letting another gadget or social media outlet into my life. I’m sure I’ve missed some of the pros though, so feel free to clue me in!

I’m sure we can all agree–there’s a lot left unsaid when we come to rely on non-face-to-face and nonverbal communication. Technology makes it SO easy for us to simply screen our phone calls, hang up without leaving someone a voicemail, and just stick with texting, emails, Facebook back-and-forths, and Tweets. But–these gadgets of convenience might just leave lots of room for missed chances.

I just finished the book “Save as Draft” (Simon & Schuster, February 2011) by writer-lawyer Cavanaugh Lee and I loved it. The book chronicles the romances and related comic (and often not-so-comic) missteps of a female lawyer whose relationships are wholly affected not just by the emails sent between her and her friends, but also the ones that they write but save {unsent} in their Drafts folders. Lee touches on something really unique to our modern technology-saturated age: are we overthinking it? Sometimes the things we DON’T say are the things that could have changed everything…for better or worse.

I’m definitely guilty of doing it. Except I never let an email sit in a folder addressed to someone unless I know for SURE I’m going to send it. I have typed out venting emails in a fit of anger (or sadness, panic, despair), but if I have ANY doubts about truly sending it, I’ll be proactive and make sure to put my own email address in the “To:” field before typing–just in case I accidentally hit ‘Send’ instead of ‘Save’!

Lee’s “Save as Draft” is clever, creative and modern (the entire book reads as emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and Tweets between the protagonist Izabell, her best friends, and the men in her life), and a quick, fun read. Writers will wish they had written it!

Do you save, edit, and delete often? Has technology made it too easy for you to NOT tell someone what you really meant to say?

Yeah, I did it this past Monday. Deactivating my Facebook account and saying goodbye for now to my 600+ nearest and dearest is something I’ve always toyed with. Oh yes, I’ve hit “submit” to the deactivation confirmation and then again when Facebook asked “Are you sure? So-and-so will miss you!” several times in the past…it’s just that I was never able to stay away for more than 4 to 5 hours, tops.

I can’t quite pinpoint why I’ve finally followed through this time (I know it’s early in the game, but it’s THURSDAY! That’s four long days!), but it just felt like the right step and the right time. I used to be an incessant status-updater, but I toned that down over the last few months and noticed that I actually did prefer to keep life’s minutiae and bigger decisions to myself! (Blogging life excluded, of course!) And other than that, it seemed like a time and energy sucker. Some people are GREAT at not stalking their exes or former friends (right?! I know you superhuman people are out there!). Me, I’m not one of them. I guess I finally decided, for all the time I was spending doing just that over the years, I needed to get a life!

It’ll kind of suck not seeing everyone’s new photos and hearing about their life events but…I’ll live. There’s always email and phone calls for the biggies, right?

Apparently Facebook also has an option to totally delete your account. I’ll definitely be re-entering the Facebook world someday (next month? in six months?), and it’s tempting to ponder the idea of deleting EVERYTHING (photos, wall posts, acquaintances I barely speak with) and starting from scratch.

Yep, I suddenly have a teensy bit of more time on my hands. And though it’s weird that I feel oddly ‘disconnected’ from my social circle, close or not, there’s a bright side: now no one can stalk me either! I kinda wonder who, if anyone, will notice that I’m gone! (My mom has already noticed, BTW.)

Would you ever consider closing your Facebook account? Or, have you ever done it? Most importantly,will it drastically affect my life?? Ha. Guess I’ll find out!

I came across this YouTube video this week [via Glamour magazine’s Smitten blog]. Ah, Facebook chat! (Not to mention Gchat, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, etc.) Makes it so easy to hide…

Sadly, this totally rings true these days for much communication between the sexes, don’t you think?

It’s not just the perpetual second-guessing and searching for the perfectly detached responses (i.e. furious backspacing) that typifies potential and existing romantic relationships during the lovely uber-social mediafied age we live in. Sometimes even the most innocent remarks can be misconstrued. Reading between the lines can be exhausting…and despite your best efforts, you still might guess wrong.(Yep, speaking from experience!)

Although face to face talk is ideal, it’s not always possible. (Especially for all you Hampton Roads residents with loved ones deployed overseas!) I keep in touch with lots of people transcontinental style. The funnest is with my relatives. Not only do I not get the added plus of visual cues, we communicate in person in Bengali but on Gchat/Facebook in English, which feels completely unnatural and stunted. Imagine the room for misinterpretation there! Luckily, family is family. But when there is a level of attraction between you and the person on the other side of the interwebs, well, a bit of careful attention to detail is a must!

So to that, I say err on the side of TOO much info. Don’t let’s go the way of Jane and James, shall we? And if in doubt about how your quipping remark will be received, well, inserting a wink never hurt anyone! 😉

Have you ever gotten into a misunderstanding  (or hit backspace a gazillion times to totally change your response) when chatting online?