Friday, August 15, 2008


Can someone please explain to me the appeal of Facebook?
It's an honest question. The members of my church, most of them twenty- and thirty-somethings, seem to have left the blog world en masse and have absconded to the world of Facebook. And I'm trying to figure out why.
I will confess that I don’t really get Facebook. My college-age daughters have their Facebook pages, and as best I can tell (I really don’t spy on them, but sometimes they leave the screen up when they walk away from the computer :-)) their pages consist of thousands of comments like “Dude, that had me LMAO!!” and “No kidding, I was ROFL!!!” It reminds me of the Internet of the mid-1990s, when it went from the exclusive domain of techie nerds and shadowy government types to heated exchanges between and, arguing over whether DC Talk ROOOLZ. This is progress?
I think I must have a Facebook page as well, because I periodically get requests to be Facebook friends with someone. I always click the link that says “Sure, you can be my friend, and I’ll be your friend.” But that’s about the end of it. I’m fairly certain that my face does not appear on my Facebook page. That’s more time and energy than I'd like to invest. Otherwise, when I visit others' Facebook pages, they appear to be obscenely cluttered with STOOOOOPID comments and invitations to join online communities that no sane person would want to join. So I'm probably missing something. What is it that draws people to Facebook?


anchors said...

Now in my 30's I can't say for sure. I still don't have a page yet. But I have found a couple people I haven't heard of/from in ages, so I'd consider getting one just for that contact. But that would be out of the norm from what I can tell. Maybe its just for people with really short attention spans? So instead of actually reading a blog, the can just read those one sentence (if you can call those things sentences) comments with lmao, rofl, etc. But then again why is it that people read blogs? So we can just shoot our mouths off about whatever we think is right? lol. Hard to say since no one has ever read the ones I've had. Maybe I'm just jealous.

mg said...

for me, it's a networking tool that has helped me reconnect with old friends from high school and college as well as network with current peers.

facebook really is what you make it. i can blog on it. i can post pictures on it. i can review movies on it. yeah, you can do all this with a blog too -- but facebook is more community minded where it is much easier to see what your friends have been up to or are currently doing.

plus with it's clean design it is far superior to myspace.

(and yes, you do have a facebook profile that you must have set up at some point. you probably won't be able to fully experience facebook in its entirety until you mess around with it)

Darren said...

Andy, I joined Facebook a couple months ago for professional reasons. I'm the lead web designer at a major university, so I figured I needed to at least understand how it worked. And I'll be damned if I haven't gotten completely hooked.

Between us, Joanna and I have lived in five states in the past 15 years, and our friends, family, and acquaintances are scattered all over the world. I hate the telephone and am bad about emailing, but now when my friend in Minnesota who I haven't seen since 2004 posts a photo of him playing with his daughter, I'm much more inclined to drop him a note (even if it's only three or four sentences). It doesn't promote intimate communication, obviously, but Facebook is a great way to maintain relationships.

One bit of advice: At first glance Facebook is just a bunch of silly little games and widgets (I don't give a crap about pieces of flair or little green gardens). It didn't become useful to me until I'd built up a sizable number of friends -- around 50 or so. Once you've reached critical mass, you see real activity each time you log in. I now have more than 100 friends, and I'll admit that activity on my blog has waned because of it.

Anonymous said...

It's just another way to reconnect with people who I haven't talked to in quite a while. Plus through one of their applications I can show the world my my music library and they can listen to it. I enjoy it. It will never replace the conversations but for me living across the country (in California) from pretty much all my friends, it gives me the chance to chat with them online. Be nice to have you join us, if nothing else so I could explore your Itunes library.....

David Kennedy said...

Your timing is impeccable, Andy. I just joined Facebook this week, after a friend nagged me about it. I agree with mg - the primary appeal is reconnecting with old friends. But generally, it's just a nice format to just share quick family photos, details about upcoming vacations, etc. Basically just the mundane details about friends' lives that you would probably miss because you probably don't speak with those folks regularly. People will argue "why not just pick up the phone" - but really, most of my Facebook friends aren't people I'd otherwise speak to with any kind of regularity.

You can, of course, share links to your blog and provide an RSS feed also.

To Darren's point, the games are pretty stupid, but I've spent a helluva lot more time on Facebook this week than blogging. Blogging sometimes feels like shouting into an echo chamber. Everything is a bit more personalized in Facebook. Not a substitute, but a nice supplement to blogging.

Pilgrim said...

I am on it.
I had to join it to get info about the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing.
I have some friends.
I never check it, unless someone new invites me to be a friend.
My eyesight isn't good enough to enjoy the small print, any more.

Cindy Steffen said...

Hi Andy...

I am resisting with all my might NOT to get a Facebook page. But resistance seems futile as everyone around me is being assimilated. It is all I can do to keep up a website and two blogs, let alone reply to all the emails.

I keep hearing that it is a way to "connect," and I'm sure that is true, but it seems like it could get really out of hand.

Glad to see you were at the F of F & W...I sent an email but I don't think you got it. You'll have to come visit our retreat in Adams County some day. Cindy

Joel said...

I've been resisting the Facebook phenomenon too, Andy, mostly b/c it would be yet another time-sucker. And I have a hard enough time staying in touch with current friends, much less old friends I probably fell out of touch with for logical reasons (e.g. the sister of a second-grade soccer buddy).

Actually, that's not completely true. I joined at one point under a pseudonym (Joel Cougar Mellencamp) so that I could see pictures from significant events I missed (weddings, etc.). But somehow a former co-worker still found me! Account deleted.

erin k said...

No Facebook for me. People tell me that it's really great for connecting with people you haven't talked to in a long time.

I don't want to connect with people I haven't talked to in a long time.

If we aren't close enough that I have your email address or telephone number, then we should probably leave well enough alone.

Andy Whitman said...

Hi, Cindy. It's great to hear from you. I saw the recent article about your in the OU Alumni mag. Another Bobcat makes good!

Yes, Kate and I would definitely love to come and visit you and Craig in Adams County. Let's set something up.

David Kennedy said...

Hey, no fair! Andy and Cindy are Facebooking in the comments section ;)