www.marilynbrant.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the curious incident of facebook in the night-time

Admittedly, it took me awhile to finally cave, but I did. I joined Facebook. I have a "Wall" of my very own. And I have friends--many wonderful people I know from my seven years in RWA (*waving wildly to those who've already "friended" me* during my first week--thank you! :). I know them from life in our little suburb, from my younger days, and from, well, being related to them, too. There are also people I don't know. Some I know by name but never met in person. Some I don't know in ANY sense whatsoever.

And yet, so far, it's been...nice. (Ah, that's lazy of me and a facile kind of spin at that. More truthfully, it's been chaotic and overwhelming, but it has likewise remained quite civilized conversationally. Pleasant. Frequently amusing.) Also, it's answered one of my longstanding questions: Where IS everyone when the Blogosphere seems so quiet? Are they working/working out/writing/sleeping/catching up on old episodes of Grey's Anatomy? Now I know: They're on Facebook. They're "Adding," "Confirming" and "Commenting on" their new friendships. And "Tagging" each other in pictures. And sending each other "Notes," "Gifts" and even "Good Karma"--so sweet! Yesterday I got a "Plant." I'm still not totally clear on how it worked, but it had something to do with saving the rainforest, which is certainly A Very Positive Thing.

My first few nights, I fiddled with my "Profile," visited other peoples' sites and wrote on their walls... Hours mysteriously disappeared as I bopped from one FB friend's page to the next. If I'd thought reading blogs had been a contender for Biggest Procrastination Tactic and Time-Sucking Black Hole, I suspected I'd now found the blue-ribbon winner.

Of course, I'm able to navigate the blogging world much faster now than when I first started, and part of that is because I set down rules for myself. Like: I'm not going to be an everyday blogger. I'll just blog once, maybe twice per week. Or: I can only let myself check for comments or leave other people comments at specified times during the day or, better yet, after I've reached a reasonable daily word count on my manuscript. Or: If I found myself compulsively blog-hopping, I'd need to actually TURN OFF the computer and go draft by hand in another room. (A shockingly effective technique.)

So, here are my newly minted and highly necessary Facebook rules:
1) I can check Facebook twice a day, at most, and "change my status" only once.
2) I can leave occasional messages on other peoples' walls, but I cannot "chat."
3) No matter how tempting the "gifts" are (and, FYI, there's a Jane Austen gifty thing where you can bestow Regency dance lessons and other such delights on your friends...can you believe it?!) I will NOT be indulging in the virtual gift-giving frenzy since the accumulation of necessary "points" needed to select, buy and send these gifts to others is confusing and will require me to figure out FB features that are better left undiscovered.
4) Same goes for responding to "Notes" because I get too easily caught up in answering the 50-100 tag questions and, thus, curiously forget that I'm supposed to finish writing a novel this spring. Plus, I don't quite get how to do the posting. (No, don't teach me! Ignorance is my salvation!)

So, despite my general paranoia of cyber-TMI, I've experienced the addictive qualities of Facebook firsthand and I know why and how it became so popular. It's a little like those Ghiradelli milk chocolate squares with the caramel inside. You TELL yourself "just one"--one square, one minute, one message...

20 comments:

Nancy J. Parra said...

HA! So true, it's a huge time suck. When I'm tired of my story, I go to Facebook and simply read my friends status updates. Look, actual people, living actual lives outside my office. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, some are just like me. I get caught up in the ever changing world of it. Only to look up and discover it's 5 o'clock and the dogs want to eat and people are coming home from work looking for dinner...

Ann Victor said...

yep! FB is a huge time thief. I've also started strictly limiting my time spent there.

And when I come back from Switzerland/Croatia (3 weeks to go & counting) I'm starting my next ms and will be limiting my blogosphere time too (gasp; already suffering withdrawal symptoms!!!)

But the Net is just such a great way of keeping in touch with friends. Strangers are, of course, only friends we haven't yet met and FB seems to help overcome that!

Maureen McGowan said...

When I was first on FB I spent way too much time there... Reading other people's stuff, fiddling with my page...

Now... they changed the layout of FB about a year ago, and everything I'd done moved other places... and I still haven't bothered to fix it again.

I probably go on every second day... I answer friend requests, check the "people you might know" feature and make friend requests from a few people who have a lot of friends in common with me (assuming they are writers), and see if it's anyone I know's birthday. That's actually one of my fav features of FB... It tells you which friends have birthdays coming up. something you'd never know about online friends normally.

When I start compulsivily blog hopping or e-mail reading/responding (like now) my strategy is to go to the new coffee shop near my house that DOESN'T HAVE A WIRELESS NETWORK!!! Who knew a few years ago I'd consider this a major plus in a coffee shop. I CAN'T get on the internet. Yippee!

Pam said...

I haven't partaken of the Kool-Aid yet, but know I'll have to when I finally decide on a pseudonym. However, I will be using your excellent rules when I finally do dive in.

Marilyn Brant said...

Nancy~The stories ARE interesting, aren't they? Reading those walls is like an ever-changing game of Instant History.

Ann~Switzerland and Croatia!!! Oh, wow, that sounds wonderful. I'll bet you're excited to go! I know you'll have to limit your online time when you return, but I hope you'll post a little bit about your trip...

Maureen~I know just what you mean about those wireless coffee shops! It's funny, I have a desktop, so I can't take it anywhere regardless, but even just SEEING other people on their laptops makes me anxious and thinking I should be checking email :).

Pam~LOL. It tastes like grape :). But, yeah, good idea to wait until you've got the name you want. BTW, check your inbox--I have a quick question for you!

Gail Fuller said...

Yes, Facebook is a big time waster but also a wonderful way to connect with friends. I'm not a very active Facebook junkie and deliberately limit my time. It's the only way to get work done. :) However, one of these days I must go on and add a few more friends. :) One important thing to remember - never post any pictures you don't consider Facebookable. :)

Question: As a writer, should you have two Facebook pages? One for family and one for writing related activities and people you don't know very well? Yes, there are so many ways to waste time on-line. :)

Keep smiling!
Gail :)

Brett said...

Mmmmmm....yummy kool-aid! :) I have set some of my own FB rules similar to yours, Marilyn, including a rule that I never add any applications that would allow me to accept the plants, pokes, and various other things that people send. I'm sure they're fun, but I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything important by letting them pass me by. :)

I usually just spend 5 to 10 minutes on FB in the morning and again in the evening. It's blocked on our computers at work, and that's a good thing, because I can imagine it would be a huge temptation (and time-waster!) for me during the day if I could access it!!

Robin said...

What? No chatting? I want to chat with you! And okay, I won't ever tag you again. But I might send you something sometime, so just accept it and smile. Got it? I don't expect anything in return. :)

I'm actually not on Facebook too often. I'll maybe pop on once a day, but only for a few minutes. It can be addicting and I just don't have the time. I am curious about one thing. If you ignore a friend request, do they see that you ignored them? A guy from my high school has requested friending me and I'm not sure I want to. Is that mean? I don't want to hurt his feelings. So for now the request is just sitting there.

Anyway, I'm happy to see you there for even a minute!

L.A. Mitchell said...

Wow..thanks for the cautionary tale. I have way too many time-suck items as it is.

Cindy Procter-King said...

Just don't get sucked into playing Scrabble. A friend and I are on something like our 9th game. But we both love it. Esp. me because I can't win a "real life" Scrabble game to save my life, yet I'm whipping her butt 80% of the time.

So, yes, I check my Facebook several times a day, but mainly just to see if she's taken her move. :)

Now my dog and cat have their own Facebook pages, LOL. I dare you to friend them, Marilyn. I just DARE you.

Marilyn Brant said...

Gail~You ask a great question about whether or not to have 2 pages. I can see how someone really into the FB features (posting family pictures, telling funny but private stories) might want that separation. For me, I think one page is all I can handle :) but, then, most of my family isn't on FB yet so my page is just for all the public stuff.

Brett~Yeah, that "Poke" thing was a new one I was trying to figure out! I'm sure those kinds of applications can be really fun, too, but they confuse me!!

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin~LOL! I want to chat with you, too, which is exactly the problem!! I found myself spending most of my available work time one afternoon having a chat with someone I quite like...then I started answering questions for a Notes tag...and then I looked up and I'd done no book writing at all. Other people are probably much better at multitasking than I am, though. About your question--I don't think another person can see if you've ignored a friend request. But maybe someone else here knows for sure...??

L.A.~Yeah, for many reasons, FB isn't something to jump into lightly. Fascinating, but more than a little dangerous.

Cindy~Ha!!! See? Two things that wouldn't have even occurred to me: playing FB Scrabble and putting up FB pages for pets. You're tempting me to friend them, you know. They may not be pleased :).

Amethyst Willow said...

Hey Marilyn, good to know you've succumbed. My friend asked me to give him a bunch of reasons not to join: it sucks out your soul, also all your time, you will never be free of tagged drunken photos etc. He joined anyway... I have a bunch of web pages open every time I open firefox of which facebook is one! So yeah, technically only ten minutes or so in the morning but then it's open when I'm doing other stuff in the evening - it's a black hole for time...

lainey bancroft said...

Be strong, Marilyn!

See ya later. I have to go water my plants, and feed my fish, check the items in my writers toolbox and um...yeah. I need help!

Marilyn Brant said...

Kate~Ha!!! The line "you will never be free of tagged drunken photos" should be emblazoned in red on the FB sign-up page, under the heading "Serious Warning" :). But, see--although you'd given your friend all the right advice, he STILL got sucked in. At least I'm not alone in my weakness...

Lainey~Wait...there are fish? I didn't know about them. I'm actually disappointed no one sent me those, even though they would all surely die because I'd be unable to figure out how to feed them :).

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!!

Caryn Caldwell said...

Hilarious! Facebook is kind of like visiting a new country, culture shock and all.

So the big question is, have you been Super-Poked yet?

As for updating my status, I use Twitter, too, and whenever I update on there it automatically updates on Facebook, too. Like magic. Well, magic that required a little setup, but spells usually do, don't they?

Marilyn Brant said...

Caryn~No, I have not been Super-Poked yet...Should I feel relieved or left out?? :-)

LJCohen said...

I do have a FB page, but I only check it every couple of days. One of the reasons I joined was so I could monitor my teen aged son's FB page. Friending me was a condition of allowing him to have a page. I promised him I wouldn't embarrass him and so far I've managed not too. LOL.

But I have found it useful for staying in touch with folks. I also do not like any of the applications. I spend (ahem, waste) enough time on the net as it is.

Marilyn Brant said...

Hi Lisa!
What a great idea to monitor your teen on FB that way. I'll have to remember to do this when my son hits that age... :)

Caryn Caldwell said...

Marilyn, you should probably feel relieved not to have been Superpoked. Because then you would feel this ridiculous responsibility for poking someone back. And, really, it never ends.