Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yes, I Was On Facebook For About Five Minutes (UPDATED)


I caved. I started a Facebook profile.

My parents joined; even my wife signed up. My father and my wife were the last people I thought would ever sign up for Facebook. I figured J.D. Salinger would be on it before them. Boy, did I eat crow on that one.

Although social networking sites aren't my favorite thing, hey, why not? I started entering my profile, put up a little photo, and set about the task of connecting with friends and family in the age of Facebook.

As in years past, with Friendster and MySpace and Tribe, I began to feel cagey about all the questions. An empty box asked me to describe my "political views." Another asked me for my "religious views." Still another invited me to "write something about myself." Many more text boxes awaited.

Not to be a negative nelly or anything -- chalk this up as a matter of taste -- but some things are much more fun being revealed in conversation or a letter, not just laid out on a menu. Relationship status: okay, straight-forward enough. I am married! But then a new text box appears. Who to? I was too scared to name her, for fear the next box would materialize and ask me, Is she hot?

It is astonishing how many people in my email contacts are on Facebook. It felt a bit like Douglas Adams's restaurant at the end of the universe, where everybody who has ever lived is present and looking all dressed up. By now Sarah had entered and was amused as I puttered through inviting people to link to my Facebook account.

It soon became a game of identifying who people were and how I knew them. New York person. Chicago person when I was a drunk. Trinity Rep person. Zen friend. Zen friend. Zen friend. L.A. actor person. And many of the rest: "I have no idea who that is. Who is that??"

This was fun for a few minutes and then something in the tone shifted. An awful lot of these acquaintances were women and say, why had I not posted the name of my wife in that text box anyway?

Why did I want to be on Facebook again? It was something to do with connecting with old friends, saying hello and sharing with them the occasional slice of life that made me think of them recently.

Oh right. Letters. Much more fun than this.

So, with apologies to those of you who "friended" me within minutes of my profile going up -- thank you, truly, for welcoming me to the hot tub -- I deactivated the account. You may think me a horrendous grouch, but you can't say I didn't give it a try.

Just hope I have up to date postal addresses for all of you. Monica, my letter to you came back. Doh.


Also astonishing is the amount of email Facebook sends you! It is apparent that despite clicking on "deactivate account," my homely mug and half-completed profile are still up on Facebook. It will probably be there forever now. When I die, please leave a nice comment.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for this thoughtful post. I have thought about joining Facebook but decided not to.
And I share some of the reservations which you have expressed in your post.

Though I have an account at, because friends from PS publish their experiences and writings there, and I want to keep in touch with them. As well as that I have found on Gather two remarkable poets: Kate Keeley and Edward Nudelman. So I'll keep that account open.


Debby said...

I don't do facebook. I tried, as a way to keep up w/ nieces, nephews, kids...but I hated all the spam the account generated, the juvenile advertisements Your true match is looking for you now! (What? He can't see from the couch to the computer anymore?) Who's at fault? Jon or Kate? Place your vote NOW! (Who caaaaaares?) It took me so long to find them, that really, it's just easier if I send e-mails. Hal just invited me to be his friend on facebook. I hope it did not hurt his feelings that I am not. I like Hal just fine, but man, I HATE facebook!

Kelly said...

Interesting post.

I've never had the desire to do Facebook or any social network. Yahoo 360 was about as close as I got, and I never filled out most of the info there... just used the blogging feature.

I'll just stick with this.

Hal Johnson said...


Ji Hyang said...

you are so adept at using all kinds of upaya it surprises me that you did not tame facebook...
we will connect wherever in the ten directions you are.

quid said...

I've drawn the line on facebook. There are too many electronic roads into my life now.


Haddayr said...

I'm much more into blogging than Facebook, but I'm really glad you joined it, however briefly, because now I can follow your blog!

I am on hiatus from my blog for another two or three weeks as I'm working on a novel and in a bit of a funk on top of it and I kept fighting with people online (quell surprise), but I will be back to it, soon.