Thursday, 28 June 2007

Voter power

One day early this week, or maybe late last, I recieved an email telling me that one of my dearest friends wants me to be his friend, 'Huh?' I thought. This email was from Facebook and thankfully my son was looking over my shoulder - no privacy with kids around - and he told me what it meant and what to do. 'Click on the link... NO! that link... yes there...'

I clicked on the link: Now what?

Well 'what' turned out to be this: Several hours spent futtering about on the site checking it out, learning about it: exploring.

Facebook is a bit like a city: huge. There are millions of subscribers all doing slightly different things. You have your own page and this is like the face you present to the other residents of the city. You add different elements such as photographs, interests, educational details, or not. You can leave it as empty as you like, keep it as private as you wish. Some people are very bold and upfront loading their pages with masses of information, photographs and messages. They're like the people you see in a city wearing 'notice me' clothes and jewelry, maybe driving flash cars or talking loudly on thier mobile phones. Then there are the quieter ones you have to make an effort to get to know. They may only have one or two photographs and list just a handful of interests but you think 'Mmm... someone who also likes Captain Beefheart/felt-craft/green', so you say hello. Others mix only with people they already know or even keep entirely hidden from everyone. They are like the ones who never leave their houses.

It seems to work like this you browse the site checking out other people's pages and perhaps leaving a comment, a bit like talking to a stranger at the deli counter. You notice something about them, see what they are buying and then, perhaps, say something about it: 'Have you tried the unpasturised Yarg? It's great with those crackers and a bottle of Rioja.' You can bump into people you haven't seen for years and you can search them out too. You can also join clubs focussed on just about anything. I have joined only one, Friedrich Nietzsche, so far and it's great. The people who subscribe have actually read Nietzsche, some in great detail, and understand his thought. They have also read other philosophers so they relate and crossreference, it's like being in a university cafe whilst in the comfort of your own room. It may just save my dissertaion.


eg(scotland) said...

Wow - sounds really interesting but slightly scary. I keep reading about second life too and thinking that it is all becoming a bit bizarre. In a sense, if used properly, I guess these things can enrich our lives. But on the other hand there is scope for them to take over. Going now to check it out!


Kim Ayres said...

I have tracked down a couple of old friends through facebook I'd lost contact with, but I'm still not entirely sure what else to do with it. As a social networking device, so far I prefer my blog.

Carole said...

I went to the site, but didn't want to register because I have a hard enough time keeping up with my blog. My eating, breathing, walking around life has too much social networking for me, so I think I will pass. It sounds like you have found a spot, that works wonderfully for you.

Mary Witzl said...

I like the fact that you can discuss interests or common areas of expertise with others -- that sounds great. But like Carole, right now I am trying to balance so many things (kids, housework, garden, novel) that I may have to wait before I get involved. But it does sound like fun!

Eryl Shields said...

Eg ~ I've heard of Second Life but don't know anything about it at all except that it seems to have become the first life for a few people.

Kim ~ I agree that the blog is preferable for social networking, though maybe that's just because it's what we know. I don't really know what to do with Facebook either but am enjoying the Nietzsche group. Perhaps that is the only thing I will do with it.

Carole ~ There is a danger, I think, that these virtual lives can usurp real life for some. I wouldn't have registered with FB if I hadn't been invited by my friend, this blog takes up enough time as it is.

Mary ~ The common interests and areas of expertise are definitely the best thing about it so far and, actually, I don't think I'll look for anything else in FB. I'll just visit the Nietszche forum two or three times a week and leave it at that.

Kanani said...

I've been added by a friend in his facebook, even though I had no idea what it is.
It sounds interesting.