Sunday, April 22, 2007

the Facebook experiment

It started as a lark, but I have found myself sucked into the vortex known as Facebook, an online service in the spirit of other services that allow people to connect with each other according to the famous "degrees of separation." Much like the Force, Facebook is an energy field created by all living beings; it surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.

Well, OK; Facebook is far less cosmic than that. It's a service on which you can slap up photos (of yourself, your pets, your friends, your relatives, etc.), create a profile, plug yourself into various "groups" and "networks," and suddenly find yourself part of an instant community that exchanges notes. It's like discovering you're a cell that belongs to several bodies. I admit I'm not much into such things, not being an avid joiner. I don't recall having joined a single club while in college, though I did join some clubs in high school... largely to pad the resume for college entrance purposes. Ahem.

So I initially pooh-poohed the idea of setting up a meaningful Facebook entry, but have decided that it could be a good way to insinuate myself into groups that might be interested in my book. My interest in Facebook, then, is largely pragmatic (I was amused to see that both of my brothers are on Facebook, and they never told me). For some odd reason, though, I am unable to join groups from my Mac at home; I may need to lumber/waddle to the office and try joining them from there.

Facebook has cultural implications, as it seems to rely as much on the notion of "the uninvited guest" as on invitations. What can this bode for face-to-face interactions in future?

Then again, bars and nightclubs have a similar dynamic, right? You saunter up to somebody and go, "Hey, baby, joo lookin' fine," and start grindin' to the music. So maybe I should think of Facebook as a sort of cyberspace bar or nightclub.

Which means I'm probably going to have many drinks thrown in my face. But, hey-- if the drink-thrower buys my book, then that's all right by me.


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