Facing FacebookWritten by Jim Harpen | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m going to take a break from bureaucrat bashing this week and write about a little novelty that I’ve been introduced to.
Facebook: A great way to rekindle old relationships and make new ones. An even better way to get very little done while you’re at work.
Online social networking sites are not something that I’d naturally be attracted to. I kinda like the give and take of normal “meet ’em for breakfast, get to know ’em through work, joust with ’em at the gym” type relationships. But a bunch of my cousins persuaded me to get on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. And life as I know it might never be the same.
The sign-up process was simple. My name, some other stats, and an e-mail address to (sort of) confirm I am who I say I am. Then came the usual questions, which I passed on for the moment; my zodiac sign, marital status and whether I’m looking for women or men. (That last one wouldn’t have been a question back when I was a teenager.) Just for the record, single and definitely not looking for men. Not that there’s anything wrong with anything else.
Here’s where the job inefficiency thing comes in: I’m in the office maybe half of any day, and I have all of my e-mail programs going. When I hear the BONG-bong of an e-mail coming in, I check it out right away. Since my introduction to Facebook, I’ve been getting e-mails out the wazoo. “So-and-so added you as a friend on Facebook.” Then you have to click on the link to confirm them as a friend, or ignore it and cast this “friend applicant” into a cyber-self-esteem wasteland. What’s a nice guy to do?
By the time I view the e-mail, click on the link, then “confirm them as friend,” I’m only maybe two minutes past what I was working on. But my momentum is stunted and my mind miles away. Might as well take an early lunch.
But no, I’m already on the Facebook site, so I might as well go ahead and see who my “friend’s friends” are, right?
The cascading slide into insanity has begun. I find other people I know, and I send them friend requests. And they’ve got hundreds of friends I have to sift through. I have to. I’m stuck, and nothing short of a squad of Navy SEALS can release me from Facebook’s unrelenting grasp. And I know I’m not alone. When I ask someone to be my Facebook friend (in the middle of the workday), I get their “friend confirmation” (in the middle of the workday).
Sound like an addiction? You bet. Within a couple of days, I began to get requests to be “friends” from people I knew, people I didn’t know and a whole lot of people who probably don’t know me. Hell, who doesn’t want more friends? I began to feel the satisfaction that comes only from the meaningless six-digit scores you chalk up playing pinball. “How many ‘Friends’ do you have? I’ve got more than 2,000!”
John Glenn had 1,452 friends when I was added to his friends list on Facebook last week. (Yeah, that John Glenn. Is that cool or what?) I don’t believe for a minute that this former astronaut, U.S. senator and all-around American Hero remembers me or our interviews years ago. My guess is that the former senator’s staffers handle his Facebook friends applications.
Even as I write this, my inbox is filling with more “Facebook Friend” invitations and confirmations. Four in the last half-hour. If my Facebook-friend constituency continues to grow at the current rate, I’ll be at one degree of separation from Osama Bin Laden in no time at all. We’ll be scheduling tea in some cave. “Hey, OBL! As Facebook always asks, ‘What are you doing right now? Or better, where are you doing it?’ ”
It was worth a try.
Now that I’ve revealed my Facebook membership in this publication with a circulation of 130,000, I might be getting a whole lot more “friend” invitations in the coming days. Bring ‘em on. Getting work done when I’m at work is overrated anyway.
Or maybe I’ll just duck and run to Twitter.
E-mail columnist Jim Harpen at email@example.com.