And Hell Froze Over: The Day I Joined Facebook

I jump onto most popular bandwagons late, and Facebook is no exception. But unlike the others, to which I wasn’t opposed, just disinterested until I was interested, I was flat-out opposed to Facebook. “I keep in touch with my ‘real’ friends. I don’t want to read what someone ate for breakfast, be annoyed by political rants, hear every day that someone loves her kids or husband…” my list was endless when someone would encourage me to join Facebook. “No one wants to read what ate for breakfast, listen to my political rants, or hear love Matt” was my next argument when the pressure would continue. When we moved to Peru almost a year ago, the pressure increased. But I was steadfast and I counteracted the arguments with this blog: everyone could keep up with my new life by reading my blog. And I could keep up with everyone else’s life via emails.

But that isn’t how it worked out. I learned that many people, even close friends and family (you know who you are), don’t answer my emails. Oh, I know that I have a lot of time on my hands these days compared to just about everyone else, but when those same folks are posting all over Facebook, but not responding to me, clearly time isn’t the issue. “Send a Facebook message,” Matt would tell me, generously offering his account for my amusement. And sometimes I would. And get an immediate response. This pattern deepened my Facebook boycott: if one has time to acknowledge me via one medium, why not another? Especially when both of the media are essentially the same.

Then there was the hypocrite factor. On more than one occasion, I asked Matt to friend one of my friends so that I could see her family photos and keep up with her life. As time passed and I missed family and friends more, I spent more time (usually late at night after Matt was in bed) cruising his Facebook account, seeing what I was missing and keeping up on friends and families’ lives. Sometimes I even commented or “liked” something.

So today I took the impulsive plunge and joined Facebook. And immediately panicked. For the uninitiated, or those who joined so long ago that you forgot, the minute you sign up for your account, Facebook has you send out friend requests before it even walks you through the profile page. I knew enough to not expose my entire contact list to friend requests, but within literally seconds of sending out the first, targeted batch of requests I received several acceptances and messages. Panicked, I called my brother, “I just joined Facebook, what do I do?” Tommy laughed, “I know. I just sent you a message.” “That’s my problem; I don’t know how to get my messages or set up my profile and I have about 20 “friends” already.” I realized I was ducking out of view of my laptop’s camera as if these “friends” could all see me. “Fourteen, not 20.” Oh. How did he know that? He walked me through the process and gave me some tips that I will likely understand at some point.

While I joined Facebook, that doesn’t mean I have fully embraced it. I still fear getting friend requests from people I would rather forget or ignore, getting sucked into endless hours of reading drivel, and not liking people I used to like once I find out their political or religious opinions. But I hope the tradeoff of seeing all those great pictures and actually getting responses from some of my friends makes it all worth it.