Sunday, May 1, 2011

Being a Facebook Friend

Originally Posted on November 30, 2008

I’m 44 years old and I have a Facebook page.

By now, everyone knows what Facebook is as it is the hottest social networking site on the Internet. Originally designed for traditional undergraduate college-aged folks to network and keep up with their lives, it is no longer for 20-year-olds anymore.

It seems that everyone is using Facebook. Certainly the bulk of Facebook users are individuals like you and me, you can also find celebrities, organizations, sports leagues, television programs, media outlets and causes with their own Facebook pages. They’ve taken social networking beyond anyone’s imagination.

Why Facebook? For starters, it is not MySpace. MySpace can be a bit much and there has been a lot of controversy about its use and abuse of News Corporation’s online toy. Not to mention, in my humble opinion mind you, it is very, very obnoxious! I’m at a coffeehouse catching up on work and I click a link to a MySpace. As soon as the RAM sorts itself out and the page fully loads, I scare half the patrons of the coffee house with the MySpace user’s first song on the online player. Heaven forbid it’s a track featuring T-Pain.

The real reason I’m using Facebook is to find a way to hub all of my writing work with friends near and afar. What truly sold me on Facebook is the social networking aspect of it. There have been ways of keeping up with friends online, yet this one is more streamlined and variable than other attempts at online social networking.

As a result of this foray into Facebook, there are 56 friends connected to my page. This is where Facebook truly kicks in. As I mentioned before, this site now attracts a much wider audience than its original target market. Instead of a single common community networked into my page, I have practically every chapter of my life represented amongst these 56 wonderful people. You see, I'm not shooting for quantity here...I'm definitely shooting for quality.

For example, there are three people amongst my friends that I can track back as far as Vanalden Elementary School. That covers a span of 38 years! Also, there are four people on my friends’ list attended Reseda High School during the same era. Add two additional people were friends when I lived in the Bay Area before I started Gen-X Bears. Now, we’re up to 1995…and the nostalgia continues.

In all, the 56 people represent not only the past, but also my current life. There are two co-workers; two other students from the St. Mary’s University program I am studying in and a whole bunch of guys representing the local Bear community. I have people stretched out from California and Oregon to Toronto.

One might imagine my glee over this site. Every day when I check the site, I just read it in amazement. I always dreamed of reconnecting with certain people from my past and present…and here they are! Online…and reading my crap at the same time!

However, there is sort of a drawback. Just when I thought I could write whatever I like, especially matters pertaining to my cultural status in this country based on my sexual orientation, I must realize that on Facebook I can’t hide anymore. It is not that I’m closeted…I busted that door wide open years ago. Since then, my ideas and thoughts about my cultural identity evolved a few steps away from the so-called mainstream. My heterosexual friends may not understand some of the causes, groups and fan pages I signed up for on Facebook. Then again, my gay friends might understand some of the other selections I chose on my page, either.

Looking at this closer, the concept of online social networking balances both the existence of the collective and the individual selves. We often pride ourselves as being individual in the way we live our lives, our interests and pursuits. However, we also like being a part of a collective of shared interests and pursuits. Facebook facilitates these lives wonderfully and, I must say, much better than other social networking sites out there.

This is perhaps why I am considering utilizing Facebook more than the other sites I am currently using. No, this blog is not going away (neither is The Heirloom on, but I hope to resolve the feed issue I have with Facebook on aggregating these posts onto the site. That is the only issue so far I have with the site.

Mark Zuckerberg certainly hit a huge home run with his original Harvard social networking site now a privately owned, global juggernaut. Thirty-six million users later, we’re all a part of this great and easy to use social network.

Maybe I’ll see you on there.

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