16 March 2011


Facebook is no longer cool. That's not really news, but when your Facebook feed is increasingly dominated by the family goings-on of relatives and in-laws, it simply cannot be cool. Not to mention working tech support and frequently having to deal with Farmville addicts with a dozen browser toolbars and grandmas whose Facebook accounts have been compromised because they don't know how to identify a phishing link. So, Facebook: often useful, not cool.

The other day I was thinking about the effect of having one's entire social life consolidated on a single web site. Nobody is one self - we are many selves, our current self varying depending on our surroundings. I am a different self around my friends than around my parents, a different self at church than at work, and different around my wife than around strangers. When I started using Facebook it was mostly to connect with mission buddies and high school/college friends. My Facebook self was therefore my around-friends self. When I posted something I knew my audience, and therefore did not worry about being misunderstood. Now, things are trickier. That hilarious link with slightly off-color humor - what if my mom reads it? What about that incisive political quote? It's fun to start arguments with friends but what about in-laws I don't know all that well? If I feel like gushing about my wife all the time, will my friends get sick of reading it and wonder where funny Casey went?

Not that the brave new world of Facebook is necessarily worse, just different. It has definitely forced me to be more cautious in what I spout to the world, because I am forced to think in terms of multiple selves, and the safest self usually wins. Whatever Facebook is, it's not the online hangout for buddies anymore. It's having dinner with your friends at your grandma's house: potentially enjoyable, but not that cool.

1 comment:

  1. Totally true. In the past few months, my news feed has been taken over by my mother-in-law and weird aunt (I'd never say THAT on Facebook. Case in point haha). At least for me, I have never really posted much anyway, so I haven't had to battle my other selves. Love the "friends having dinner at grandma's house" thing, too. Haha