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The Facebook Strobe Light July 11, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor, People.

Last summer, I joined Facebook.

After I hooked up with a few friends from high school, college, and law school, as well as from life since graduation, Facebook began suggesting other friends to add to my growing list.

Frankly, I found that a bit startling ~ having a disinterested third party suggesting friends to me, with some degree of accuracy, gave me cause for pause.

Hmm . . .

What if Facebook is really “big brother” in disguise . . . watching every move we make?  What if Facebook is recording everything we do, and listening in on all our cyber conversations, while reporting back to some Higher Power?

I decided to take my chances.

At first, running around and “friending” folks that I hadn’t seen in 10, 20, or 30 years felt a bit like hunting for buried treasure.

Within days, though, I became overwhelmed by the time required to slog through status updates on my home page as they scrolled past at the speed of light, like a ticker tape on steroids.

How could 67 friends have so much information of import to share with the world?

Well . . . as it turns out, many didn’t.

Instead of sharing information of actual import, they shared . . . TMI (Too Much Information), at least sometimes.

In no time, I learned more from cyber friends than I knew about my roommates in college . . . you know, actual  people who had lived under the same roof with me!

Cyber friends share everything!  They discuss eating,  grooming, and shopping habits.  They provide menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and between meal snacks.

They discuss what they are watching on TV . . . while they are watching it.

They not only share the title of books on their night stands, they post regular page updates ~ allowing us to read along with them (except, of course, if we don’t have the book . . . I never do).

They discuss the disgusting condition of their underwear, how much they spend on Spring, Summer, and Fall fashions, what doctors they are seeing (and why!), and how they plan to celebrate upcoming birthdays, holidays,  anniversaries, and TGIF.

They complain about boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers.

They disclose details about dating sites, love lost, love found, and love kicked to the curb.

We are privy to excruciating details about acid indigestion, acid reflux, chronic constipation, and its arch nemesis, diarrhea.

We learn about bathing preferences (baths vs.  showers), who suffers from hangnails, and how long it takes folks to get ready for work in the morning.

Recently, we heard about X’s breast augmentation surgery . . . and her plan to share “before and after” photos on her profile page.  (No, I’m not giving you her name so you can friend up for the big reveal!)

In short, the Right of Free Speech is beating the knickers off the Right to Privacy . . . exposing its naked underbelly to Facebook tenants.

After the novelty of being a peeping Tom wore off, and I recovered from my addiction to Bejeweled Blitz, I spent less time frequenting Facebook and more time engaged in other pursuits . . . like living life.

I still check in a few times a day, but no longer feel compelled to read through the entire day’s ticker tape parade to see what everyone’s been up to, down to, into, or out of.

Instead of reviewing intimate details about what people are ingesting (and discharging!), I use Facebook to keep up with matters that matter to me ~ animal rights, environmental issues, and how our politicians have let us down by allowing the interests of “We The People” to take a back seat to special interests groups (e.g., Big Oil, the Meat Industry, and the Dairy Industry).

Keeping up with friends on Facebook now is a bit like watching a strobe light in the Disco Days of yore . . .

I see bits and pieces of data swirling past and flashing by, and get a sense of the overall story line, but I’m missing some of the key dialogue.

Only I’m not missing it at all.

Annoyed?  Don’t be.  I’m not talking about YOU . . .

True words are not always pretty . . . pretty words are not always true. 

Related posts:  Facebook is NOT Vegas, Baby * Weekly Writing Challenge ~ Facebook, Mind the Gap * Facebooks Is {{GASP}} Broken!


1. Joanne - July 11, 2010

Nancy, you are the only writer-person-friend who has the uncanny knack of being able to take all of my own sentiments and put them into words that make me nod profusely, smile, laugh and yell, “YES…! I’m not the only one who thinks and feels this way…!” Thank you…!

nrhatch - July 11, 2010

My pleasure!

For the most part, I find Facebook amusing in its attention to detail, and focus on the more mundane aspects of life.

On occasion, however, it saddens me.

Animals are dying (in Alaska, Montana, and the Gulf), the planet is being strangled to death by our carbon emissions, and special interests are running the country . . . because “We The People” are too busy to keep an eye on issues that matter.

Later! We’re busy! We’re on FB sharing daily trivia and playing with cyber animals. : )

theonlycin - July 12, 2010

I’m with Joanne! Thanks Nancy!

nrhatch - July 12, 2010

Sanity reigns!!!

2. Thomas Stazyk - September 28, 2010

Exactly. I don’t know if it was worldwide or just here but the FB server went down for a few hours last week and people were freaking–it was like the plug on their life support had been pulled.

nrhatch - September 28, 2010

Yup. I wrote about that too. 8)

“WE” are addicted to faceless communication … that brings us closer together while simultaneously pushing us farther apart.

3. Posky - September 30, 2010

I’m still not sold or broken on the whole thing. I promise to come back to this and post my feelings once I really and truly have some.

nrhatch - September 30, 2010

Conscious thinking . . . that’s the key!

4. aardvarkian - September 30, 2010

If I’m being honest with myself, I know exactly where you’re coming from.

BUT…for better or worse, Facebook is a part of my daily life. It’s up to me how I use it and how I interact with the people in there.

Now, back to Bejeweled…

nrhatch - September 30, 2010

Exactly. Like any other part of our life, the more conscious we are . . . the better choices we make.

As long as we are honest with ourselves, we exercise control over our FB use instead of allowing it to control us.

5. Maggie - October 8, 2010

This post is great! Perhaps we should all take week-long breaks from Facebook every month.

nrhatch - October 8, 2010

Thanks, Maggie. I am not interested in closing my FB account, but it’s not my “cyber cafe” of choice.

I’d rather visit blogs and bloggers (like you) who have something of import to share in more than brief soundbites. 🙂

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