Holding Out

Nephew in Class Play:
Into the Woods
(Unrelated Placeholder Image)
Seattle, USA
January 22, 2009

I feel like so many of my friends have departed for Planet Facebook.

That's what I assume. My evidence? Well, receiving e-mail has become a rare thing. Also, none of the friends whose 'blogs I've followed for years have updated their site in weeks--months, even.

It would be trivial to join in, myself. But... I've been consciously resisting--trying to hold out for as long as I can. I've been wary for a long time.

My first worry is that Facebook will prove an enormous time suck. I may already waste plenty of time elsewhere on the Internet, but am concerned that being on Facebook will increase that. Though, perhaps the opposite would be true. I do see those other forms of communication with friends decreasing. But maybe sending less e-mail and writing fewer 'blog entries would balance out time newly dedicated to Facebook?

I don't want this 'blog to thin into oblivion, though. Am I being stubbornly old-fashioned by holding out for "more personal" communication? And were e-mail messages composed and exchanged between two correspondents ever really all that rich a medium, anyway? I suppose I am mired even further in the past, still sticking with technology even less relevant: I'm the last person I know who still regularly sends postcards. I must be groaning with age.

I wasn't so resistant to Facebook in the beginning. I've been receiving invitations to join for something like three years now. My initial reason for not signing on was the presumption that Facebook would just go the course of all those other social-networking sites--Friendster, MySpace--that have already seen their heyday.

I actually did try to sign-up and create an account back when traveling over autumn of 2007. By that time, I had received so many invitations to join from close friends that I realized Facebook must be here to stay. However, at the time I decided to take the plunge I was in Isfahan. I found upon typing the URL that access to Facebook is banned across all of Iran. I took inability to view even the home page as some sign that I was simply not supposed to join.

My recalcitrant attitude to the new leading technology hardened after crossing Turkey. Everywhere I went around Istanbul I saw westerners logged-on with laptops at wi-fi hotspots. The times I could see their computer screen it was inevitably that one website they were updating. Over the days I stayed at her flat, both of Penny's roommates spent no less than three hours a day updating their Facebook pages.

I do know myself, though. My pattern with any new technology has consistently been to reject, resist, then ultimately embrace. In decades past I had quandries adopting technology that is laughably common today--obsolete, even. I remember my thinking back when telephone answering machines were new, "How weird and impersonal that would be! When I call somebody I want to speak with a person--not some machine." I held out for years against carrying a cell phone--going so far as to buy a small jamming device--in order to not endure what I perceived to be obnoxious manner in public places.

Another part of my reluctance to joining Facebook is that I still haven't gotten over a feeling that some friendships should be allowed to drift. Even being closest friends over one particular phase of life doesn't necessarily assign lifelong status to that relationship. Not in my book, anyway. Do I really need to know what the guy who rode my bus to elementary school is having for breakfast? Even on the one social networking site I immediately embraced, CouchSurfing, I find it odd to see status updates for certain people. Even if he was a really cool traveler, do I really need to know where some guy I hosted several years ago--for one night in Urumqi--happens to be today?

All that said, I've realized that declaring you're "not on Facebook" today would be like stating that you "had no e-mail address" at the turn of the millenium. It's simply the way people prefer to communicate at that particular time.

I recognize that one day I will have to come around. I'm sure that I will embrace Facebook wholeheartedly once I finally do. Looking back on this entry years--maybe mere months--from now I'll probably think, "What was the big deal?"

However, I'm still holding out until absolutely necessary. I don't want this 'blog to die.