Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wasting my time in Margaritaville, otherwise known as facebook

I signed up for facebook because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. People I care about were spending a lot of time on facebook and I kept getting requests to be their friend, although I thought I already was. I worried that they were spending too much time connecting over their computers and not enough time interacting in person. There is something to be said for the now outdated fashion of inviting someone into your home and talking face to face while sharing a glass of wine. It seems fewer people actually have the time or inclination to socialize in this outmoded, quaint style. There are blogs, chat rooms, forums, myspace and now facebook.

People are connecting and networking in new ways, and not all of them seem beneficial. I’m not interested in being poked, spanked, having sheep thrown at me, bitten by a zombie, given virtual cosmopolitans, bought or sold, rated by hotness, or any other immature time wasting debauchery. And then there are the quizzes: what kind of drunk are you, what personality disorder do you have, what colour is your heart, what kind of lover are you, how smart are you, how hot are you, what do men see in you, what 1950’s pin-up model are you, and the list goes on. The worst part of this is that it is your friends who are sending you these annoying requests, because if they took the quiz they have to invite 20 of their friends to install the application to get their results. Very sneaky indeed.

Despite these very real and annoying applications, I have found, much to my initial skepticism, that facebook is fun and even, at times, a great business tool. I even created my own Palimpsest Press facebook group, where I can create discussion threads, post upcoming events, email members about new titles and readings, add links and upload video and audio clips.

The problem is that, for me at least, facebook is problematically addictive. It is far too easy to log on, play some scrabble moves, look at updated profiles, check the status bars, and before I know it an hour or longer has passed and I have done nothing on my to-do list. Facebook promotes a laid-back, unproductive work environment. The trick is discipline, which clearly I lack. I refuse to install any more games on my account because I know I am too easily drawn into playing them and forgetting about what needs to be done. Of course, there is no one to blame for this waste of time except myself. If it weren’t facebook, then it would be something else. I am an accomplished procrastinator.

Wastin’ away in facebook again,
Makin’ my next scrabble assault.
Some people claim that there’s a web site to blame,
But I know it’s my own damn fault.

Still, my main bone of contention with facebook remains. Although meant to connect us, it is really creating a culture of computer savvy people with no real social interaction. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can give an example of this in my own life. My husband and I both have offices in our basement. I keep my door open so we can talk to each other, being only 10 feet or so apart. One evening, we were both on facebook, responding to emails, writing on people’s walls, and playing scrabble. We each remained in our own little internet bubble, when I turned my head to face him and said, “hey, would you hurry up and make your move, I have my next word ready.” I suddenly realized that we were playing scrabble with each other for the past hour and this was the first time either of us had actually looked at or talked to the other person. My husband went out and bought the Scrabble board game that week.