You Have No Friends
Facebook as an Adult Social Desert
There's my teenage daughter, typing away on Facebook, sending a Facebook message to the cast and crew of the play she's assistant directing at the high school. She barely uses email. Mostly she uses Facebook. All of her friends are on Facebook. They share their lives daily via this inscrutable medium, as do high school and college students and recent alumni across the world.
I have a Facebook page. My daughter's friends ask her, "You're dad has a Facebook page? What's up with that? Can we talk about this?"
"You have no friends," says my daughter, laughing.
"Almost true," I reply.
Yes, as a man a bit past middle age I am somewhat of an anomaly on Facebook, but I am not alone. There are a few old men (and women) here and there, few and far between. John Updike, famous author, is there. He is a genuinely old man and he has LOTS of friends. My cousin, being a few years older than I, definitely qualifies as a bit past middle age, and he is making friends left and right. I can only conclude the problem is with me, not with my age or the medium. Since I accept the fact that I am a wall flower, not a social butterfly, I am at peace being a man of relatively few Facebook friends.
My children have "friended" me, as it is called when you add someone as your friend to your Facebook page. A couple of my children's friends have friended me, and my cousin, and one guy I know from work, and several poets and a security company I have hunted down using Facebook's "Find Friends" tool. My cousin and I actually use Facebook to communicate, so I am experiencing the flavor of the communication my teenage daughter seems to enjoy so much.
When you friend someone on Facebook, you either send a friend request which is then accepted by, well, the friendee, or you can accept a friend request that was sent to you. After the friend request is accepted, you can view each other's profile information. That is why it is important not to put too much personal information on a social networking site.
I don't communicate much with my kids or their friends on Facebook. I feel I would be intruding. However, there are several ways to communicate on Facebook. For example, you can write on a Facebook friend's "Wall", or you can send your Facebook friend a message, and Facebook will send it to their email address. This is a nice feature, since it allows you to send email without disclosing your own email address.
Get Out of My Space
MySpace.com is another social networking site. Like Facebook, you can find friends using a friend finder utility. However, the friends you find there may be a little racier than those you might find on Facebook. There are more older people on MySpace than on Facebook.
I have received few friend requests on Facebook, but I have received many on MySpace. However, almost all of the MySpace friend requests have been from young, scantily clad women seeking - my, what a coincidence! - older men.
Recently I received a friend request from a woman whose name sounded kind of familiar, plus she was wearing regular, normal clothes. So I went to her page, but all I found there was a huge pop-up window urging me to click on it and download a "malicious software removal tool". Of course I did no such thing, but exited the window as quickly as I could.
I did actually find a very good friend on MySpace. I had known him for many years but had lost track of him, and MySpace helped me track him down.
MySpace has a lot more advertising than Facebook, and has altogether a much more commercial feel. Whereas Facebook is more centered around direct communication between individuals, MySpace seems more centered around the blog idea. MySpace does offer the same search and communication utilities as Facebook, but in practice, denizens of MySpace seem more blog oriented than communication oriented. On MySpace you have the option of making your blog public, whereas on Facebook your postings are only visible to those you've chosen as friends.
I enjoy blogging on MySpace. I write mostly rants about the Boston, Massachusetts transit system there. I enjoy communicating on Facebook when I know what's going on.
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