Ok, so I'm not the first to blog about FB. But I've been thinking about it a lot recently and I realise, like many, I have a very love/hate relationship with it.
The plus column includes at least two things: I like being able to keep passively in touch with people who I don't necessarily talk to a lot, but who I would consider friends and of whose lives I enjoy being a part (and I like to include them in my own); I also like the professional networking aspect it offers so I can casually let colleagues and mentors know what I'm up to without necessarily bombarding them with news.
On the other hand, the entire concept annoys me. It often feels far too much like "real life" has been so completely consumed by the internet that it gets written down before it gets lived. And, if I'm honest, sometimes the entire community feels like a giant invasion of privacy, as seemingly "off the record" updates and "wall" conversations are streamed in the newsfeeds and made abundantly public (yes, I know people can set their privacy options however they like, but that doesn't change that it often seems like overhearing private conversations!).
Lastly - and perhaps the biggest mark in the "no" column: I feel absurdly guilty at not accepting every friend request that comes my way, but I feel equally uncomfortable adding as "friends" people with whom I have only the slimmest connection professional or personal. It's a quandary - I certainly don't wish to offend or seem stand-offish, but I also don't necessarily like feeling "obligated" to add people simply because they have added me.
So why don't I just bag out of it entirely? Well, in addition to reconnecting with some college friends, I've recently had at least three dear friends from Europe with whom I had lost touch find me via Facebook, and I am delighted - no, THRILLED - to have re-established contact with folks who I might possibly have lost in my life forever. Like it or not, that tips the balance and so, however ambivalently, I keep reading it and using it.
But if you've friended me and I didn't reply .... please don't take it personally! I'm still trying to decide whether I want to throw the net as wide as it can go or keep it more personal and intimate and, for the time being, that means I sometimes take the "inert" option and simply don't respond at all. Maybe one of these days I'll figure out what I want to do....!