I guess you could say I’ve been on the internet a little bit longer than most. Social networking and user-generated content may be the words of the day, but I’ve seen a lot of these sites come and go. There’s collegeclub.com, classmates.com, Hic5, and others. Out of all of them, I can say that facebook has been the most effective. I have been meeting people that I haven’t seen in over 10 years, and I was pretty sure some of those people wouldn’t even touch a computer for this kind of thing. It’s an odd kind of reunion, with all of the snooping and preening of a real reunion without the abject embarrassment of trying to remember a person’s name.
Facebook’s reputation as a colossal waste of time is also well warranted. There is this compulsion to add every person you have ever associated to your friends list so that you can indulge in every little detail they want to share with on the internet. This led to an epiphany. Supermarket tabloids aren’t addictive because we like to see the mighty Hollywood celebrities falter in their moral turpitude. Humans are gregarious creatures, so we crave the company of others. Unlike emotional transaction of gossiping with our real friends, the gossip rags offer us intimate communication for a measly 5 bucks. Facebook offers the same type of communication, only now it involves our own friends, and the communication is (mostly) consensual.
One of the neater features on facebook is that it allows you to control the amount of information that people see when they search for your profile. This is useful when you want to control the flow of information to potential employers and random internet stalkers. So in order to see a profile of some people, you have to add them to your friends list first. This leads me to a bit of a dilemma when I’m seeking out old classmates. You see, I often have trouble gauging other people’s perception of me. I don’t know if people remember me as a complex, athletic, and artistic individual, or just a very large psychotic creep. I was very shy throughout highschool and university, so you could suppose I was afraid to find out what people thought of me. I know now that people found it really annoying when I put my hand up in class every five seconds to give an answer and ask a question. With
some people my only transgression may be that I didn’t know them well enough. Knowing your own perception gets harder when you become an adult, because no one wants to be the bad guy and break it to you that you piss them off. Clicking that “add to friends” button suddenly turns into a definite social risk.
Then again, if I had a machine that could put me in contact with everyone I have ever known, shouldn’t I use it specifically to talk to the people I didn’t get along with? Shouldn’t I take this opportunity to forgive and be forgiven for past mistakes? If someone has a gripe against me, it should be my duty to address those concerns.
So I’m going to take a new policy with facebook: friend everyone. Abbotsford Senior Class of ’97? Friended. BCIT GIS program ’07? Friended. I welcome anyone to friend me as well. If you like the blog posts, feel free to friend me. If I haven’t gotten around to friending you, go ahead and friend me. Even if we have no contact other than facebook, friend me. Even if I don’t know you, it’ll be a pleasure to get to know you.