Saturday, February 14, 2009

Facebook Frenzy

About the time my co-ed softball season ended last summer, one of my female teammates, who is a few years younger than me, told me in an email I should join Facebook. Among other things, she thought it would be a good way to stay in contact with her during the offseason. Being 40 years old at the time, I blew off the idea while thinking "why should I be on a social website with a bunch high school and college aged kids". For quite a while, I never gave the idea another thought until my cousin's wife and a woman I dated briefly began to repeatedly bring up the idea.

My cousin's wife continued to tell me I should "be on Facebook", even reminding me during our family's Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Finally, after yet another email from the softball teammate badgering me to join Facebook in early January, I relented and signed up. After taking the few minutes to set up my profile, I immediately went searching on Facebook for the softball teammate, the girl I had dated and my cousin's wife. "Friending" them was easy enough and they were kind enough to make comments on my "wall" of something to the extent of "it's about time".

Within a couple of days, I had "friended" or been "friended" by over 60 people. Some of the "friends" were obvious...softball teammates, people from the neighborhood I had grown up in, and some college friends that I had stayed close with over the years. But, some of the "friend" requests I started to receive were a little more distant...people I knew in college but who I wasn't very close with, wives of some of my college friends and neighbors of current friends who I really don't know. It became readily apparent a lot people on Facebook search their "friends'" "friends" list just to see who they vaguely recognize in an effort just to enlarge their own "friends" list.

But, I can't criticize anyone for doing this because I was soon doing the same thing. Even worse, I was searching for ex-girlfriends, not to "friend" them, but purely to see their profiles to see what they look like now.

Word soon got to one of my best friends through his wife, who was on Facebook, that I had joined up. The next day this friend, let's call him Vern, was on Facebook after vowing for months he'd never join up. Vern's reasoning was that if I was on Facebook, he might as well sign up. Within days, Vern had close to 200 Facebook "friends".

Personally, my experience with Facebook hit frenzy status a couple of weeks after I joined up. A friend's wife hosted a 40th birthday for the friend at the piano bar in the National Harbor complex just south of D.C. in Prince Georges County Maryland. This was one of those events where all the married folks got a baby sitter (or locked the kids in a closet), booked a hotel room near the bar, and then tried to re-live their college or Dewey Beach glory days. Needless to say, many of party goers were way past buzzed not too long into the night. And, with each round of beer and shots, more cameras came out of pockets and the more the MILFs in attendance started hamming it up for the cameras. Most anyone who had a camera at the party came home with several shots of ladies drinking longnecks in a provocative manner, asses being shaken just for the camera and an abundance of cleavage in a digital format.

When I got home at 2:00 a.m. several "friends" were already on Facebook swapping emails, instant messages and posting pictures. By noon the next day, dozens of photos from the party were plastered all over Facebook.

All through my first few weeks on Facebook, I knew there was one friend of mine who would laugh his a** off when he found out I was on Facebook. Let's call this friend J.D and he lives in Richmond. A couple of nights after the party, I was talking to J.D. on the phone and telling him about the party when I told him pictures from the party were all over Facebook. J.D. immediately started giving me a hard time about being on Facebook and told me he would never be on Facebook. I guess J.D.'s curiosity about all those MILFs playing up to the cameras got the best of him because, a couple of nights later, he was signing up for Facebook as we again spoke on the phone. Since then I've noticed J.D. has become a Facebook "fan" of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pointer Brand Overalls, Southern Culture on the Skids and WKRP in Cincinnati.

And back to Vern for a minute, he has become one of the most prolific thinkers on Facebook, often postng introspective thoughts like:

Vern is trying to decide, out of the 3 famous TV Shirleys (Shirley Partridge, Big Shirley from "What's Happening", and Shirley Feeney), which is my favorite.

Vern loves when you put your ipod on shuffle and the first song it plays is exactly the song you wanted to hear, even though you didn't even know 5 seconds.

Vern is wondering if Mike Damone has any Earth, Wind, and Fire tickets. I'm planning on taking my little brother...

On a slightly more serious note, my friend Steve Tuttle wrote this piece for Newsweek's website on his personal addiction to Facebook and his subsequent resignation from Facebook. I wondered why he disappeared from Facebook shortly after I "friended" him. I thought I had scared him off until I read the piece. (Read the piece, if for no other reason, to see the context in which Steve used the line "Spiffy McGee feels a deuce coming on".)

On an even more serious note, J.D. sent me this MarketWatch piece on the potential problems Facebook profiles and postings pose in the hiring process for many employers and potential employees.

Steve points out in his piece that Facebook just celebrated its fifth anniversary and that he thought that was a good time to quit Facebook. I've been on Facebook a few weeks and I have to admit it has become somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Maybe I'll hang it up when it cuts into my other guilty pleasure, this blog.

Happy Valentine's Day from Shedd's Spot.

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