I joined FaceBook – I still don't get it
by David Karlsruher
Posted on February 17, 2009
You may remember my rant a few months ago about the ills of social networking. I took a lot of criticism from the local basement dwellers who proclaimed their lives to be "full" since discovering the magical tool that allows them to have electronic relationships with other people too ugly to appear in public. Apparently they felt I impugned their way of life by accusing them of using the sites to coerce underage children into have sex with them. I'm only partly sorry for that. Although, I do applaud them for their efforts to turn pedophilia into a green activity. All that driving around in a 1975 Chevy van with a bag of candy was just too hard on the environment.
I decided that the best way to connect with these people was to join Facebook. People have always told me, "don't knock it until you've tried it." I will abide by this rule even though it has really turned out badly for me in the past. I can tell you that I was right about broccoli, center of a volcano hot yoga and John Tesh before I actually tried them.
I set out to accomplish this task alone. I didn't want any current member of the Facebook community coaching me. Seeing if the social networking application was user friendly was a part of the experiment.
I found the website, put my email address in and then waited for their confirmation email.
Faster than you can say, "John Mark Karr" there was a message waiting for me in my inbox. Facebook was eager for me to, "get started." I wondered what we were going to "get started" doing other than ruining all of my street cred.
Mind you I didn't attempt to go through the process of signing up for this crap at home. I was using work time and people were beginning to notice. Instead of following my normal work routine, which consists of me walking around talking to employees and stealing all the good ballpoint pens from their desks, I was actually in my office intently staring at my computer like I was busy. I began to think this Facebook thing might be something I could get into.
It doesn't take long for you to have a viewable profile on Facebook. They ask your name, the high school and college you went to and about your job. You're "on Facebook" after that. It's a done deal.
They ask you to invite friends early on in the registration process, so I invited my wife to be my friend. She's a Facebook expert. She's got a level three black belt in Facebook. She's the equivalent of a Facebook Navy Seal. You've got Facebook friends, and she's got a Facebook army. You have a Facebook profile, she's got a Facebook autobiography. As cool as that all sounds, it wasn't good news for me.
Ten milliseconds after I extend an invitation to her to be my, "friend," she accepted it. No less than a minute later my phone rings. It's the Facebook Ninja and she isn't happy. The following exchange took place at volume level 11:
"YOU JOINED FACEBOOK AND YOU WERE JUST GOING TO LEAVE YOUR STATUS BLANK?"
"What status, honey"
"YOUR $!#^$@#'N MARITAL STATUS!"
"I SEE WHERE YOU WENT TO CORONADO HIGH SCHOOL AND YOU GRADUATED FROM UTEP AND YOU HAVE A STUPID JOB WITH YOUR STUPID PARENTS, BUT I DON'T SEE WHERE YOU ARE MARRIED TO ME!"
Shortly after threatening my life and me begging for my life, she walked me through the process of indicating that I was married.
Facebook wanted me to confirm that I was married to my wife, by the way. They asked me to "confirm" our relationship. I wondered if I was going to have to head to the court house to get a marriage certificate. Apparently I just had to click "confirm."
Before she hung up on me, the Facebook Fun Sponge instructed me to post some pictures and finish filling out my profile.
So I went looking for some pictures of the wife and I. I also looked for some extra ones of just her so she would feel secure I wasn't trolling the internet for high school chicks.
Of course, I posted a picture of my wife on Christmas morning in her pajamas holding a gift she had just opened. She flipped out. Really flipped out. Again.
I thought it was cute. She picked up the phone and let me know that I was an asshole. She also told me that I would be an asshole sleeping on the couch if that picture was not removed in ten seconds. I knew she was serious because she started counting like my mother would when she wanted to hit me with a belt, but wanted to wait a few seconds before she did it.
I'd been on Facebook less than fifteen minutes and I had screwed up twice already. Things were not looking good for me and my new Facebook endeavor.
Once I filled out all my information and posted appropriate pictures of my wife and I, it was time to start making friends and connecting with long lost pals who would be eager to talk to me.
So, I waited. And waited. Finally someone wanted to be my friend. It was my buddy. Not a long lost buddy. Not a guy I hadn't seen in a few months or a year. We had had lunch together that day and were going to have drinks that evening and probably play golf and get hammered on Saturday just like we do almost every weekend during the year.
I briefly considered not seeing this friend ever again just in case he turned out being my only friend on Facebook. Why ruin a good online thing by actually seeing your friends in person? Why engage in meaningful, efficient conversation with someone when you could have a relationship that consists of one sentence updates and pictures with funny captions?
Things did get better, though. The friends started rolling in. I was really racking them up. By nightfall I had 14 friends and new emails containing friend requests coming in every 30 minutes or so. The Facebook Fun Sponge mocked me because I had told everyone to be my friend at the happy hour we attended that night. She said that was not, "real networking" and that she'd count those people against my friend total.
It appeared that the Facebook Nazi wanted to have a little competition.
I put out a call to action to my new friends and instantly shot up to 35 total friends. I was quite proud of myself.
I had never checked to see how many friends the Facebook Nazi had. She already had more than 500 friends. Just for kicks she posted a new profile picture and received so many friend requests the little bell that goes off when she receives a new email sounded like a machine gun. She now refers to herself as the "Facebook Michael Phelps."
So here I am, just sitting around waiting for people to ask me to be friends with them. I've been "tagged" in a couple of photos, answered about a million surveys and for some reason I'm still empty inside. By the way, when I've been "tagged," does that mean I'm "it?" If so, where's base?
Instead of meeting new friends I've just discovered a new way for old friends to annoy me during the day. I feel like I was so much better off not knowing what their status was all day. I've realized that true friendship is not sharing our thoughts and feelings over the internet, it's generic male bonding featuring alcohol and false senses of security. That is what friendship is really about.
While a few girls from my past have contacted me, it's not as exciting as I thought it would be. My high school sweetheart is as big as a house and has about nine kids. She's always posting notes to my "wall" telling me that if my wife ever left she would be glad to have me. I'm not real sure if she wants to eat me, or move in with her.
I really don't get it, though. I'm not sure exactly what's fun about Facebook. I never have any kind of urge to check my profile to see if maybe one my friends has changed their status from, "Billy is hungry for a steak!' to "Billy is wondering where the toilet paper went!?!?" I just don't really care that much.
I plan on sticking with my social networking experiment. I hope it brings me some kind of happiness. Not that I need anymore happiness in my life. You can only take so much happiness at one time before you start posting pictures of yourself shirtless holding kittens. I don't want to be that guy and you don't want me to be that guy.
Mr. Rogers asked to be his neighbor. I'm just asking to be your Facebook friend.
Note: the events involving my wife (please call the police) did not actually happen (please call the police) as described (call them now!) in this story (save me). Actual events (do something before she kills me) were not depicted (everything written is true!) in this article (it's too late, thanks a lot).
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