Saturday, March 29, 2008


I don't get Facebook. What are all those people doing? I hate to get left too far behind, so I joined, but maybe the social networking thing is not for me because I can't find much of interest there. And whenever I do find something interesting, I have to click through five screens of permission to give up my privacy, so I usually end up backing out.

My friend T is very anti-social networking because it obliterates privacy. Or, rather, it takes away your personal control over the parameters of individual relationships. It forces you to have the same relationship with your mother, your life-long best friend, the guy you just met at a party last weekend, and your boss.

Maybe that's where we're headed, but it makes me nervous. Do I want everybody I know, no matter how well they know me, to read a little note I write on an old friend's "wall" which makes reference to an old joke between us that, without the context of our long relationship, may be meaningless or hateful to someone else? One of the things I like most about conversation is that it's ephemeral. I was horrified a few years ago when I realized that every google chat I had ever had was stored in a Steven file somewhere in the big google sky. Somebody is making a list and checking it twice, separating the sheep from the goats. It smells too much like judgment day to me.

I can see you raising an eyebrow at all this apprehension about loss of privacy coming from someone who writes about his sex life on a blog for the world to read. You have no idea how carefully calibrated this writing has become. I might be telling you a lot, but I'm not telling you everything.

What I like about Facebook -- and this happened when I first joined Myspace, too -- is the flurry of contact with old friends. We're so peripatetic these days -- maybe some of the appeal of Facebook et al. is that it relieves some of the sadness and tension of having friends and family so far flung. Social networking brings us all together. I think I would just like to have a little more control over how together we are, and when, and with whom.

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