Saturday, August 18, 2012

Think I'll go eat worms.

Nobody likes me.
Everybody hates me.
Think I'll go eat worms . . .
On July 27, I wanted to send a message to just my daughter Emily and her friend Laurel. For some idiotic reason, instead of just sending them a message, here's what I did. Under the status window, there is a little drop-down option to customize who can see your post.

Default setting is "Your friends."
I clicked that arrow and selected, "Customize," which opened this window.
I selected Emily and Laurel from my list of friends.
I saved the changes. I can't remember if I ever actually sent them the message I had drafted. I think I changed my mind.

What I didn't change was that little setting.

For weeks after this, no one commented on my status updates or links or blog posts, except Emily or people I had tagged in my posts. Because those few people were commenting occasionally, and because comments that I made on others' posts or photos also received replies, I just thought that most of my friends had [SOB] better things to do than comment on my posts.

I began to wonder if I had offended everyone. Or perhaps I was just . . . boring.

Then a sweet friend sent me an inbox message.
"Everything ok? You haven't been on FB in a while.
I replied that I was fine and had been posting as much as usual. [Well, perhaps not quite as much.] She said she couldn't see anything.

When I got home that evening, I scoured my Facebook privacy settings. I sent screen captures to Facebook, thinking that I might somehow have been blocked.

It wasn't until my cursor happened to hover over the little setting at the bottom of the status window that I saw this.
Wait. What?
My posts were still only visible to Emily and Laurel!
D'oh! I hadn't realized that the setting under the status window was a global setting for every single post henceforward! It's kind of a cool idea. You could have a default setting of a small group of best buddies, but open it up more broadly for all your friends.

I changed my setting, and went back and changed it on every post where it was still customized. It went all the way back to July 27. I posted a "Let me know if you can see this" status and was swamped by a bunch of "welcome back" messages. It warmed the cockles of my heart, I tell you.

In the end, I learned a few things.
  1. I like Facebook. I enjoy the casual banter, the sharing of news, humour, and insights. I know that many people find it silly and superficial. But it's like many social exchanges - I've been to parties where the conversation bored the bejeebers out of me, and other parties where I really clicked with someone and wanted to spend more time together. You take a little water with the wine, so to speak.
  2. Without responses, I felt as if I was on the fringes of a social clique. It was a weird feeling. Kind of like being in high school again, without the benefit of sag-free skin.
  3. I don't think the social connection is as artificial or empty as many people disparage it to be. My friend was genuinely concerned for me and reached out to me even though we haven't actually seen each other in two years. It isn't a substitute for offline connection, but when distance prevents "real world" get-togethers, I think social media can help maintain connection. 
What do you think about social media, specifically Facebook? 


  1. I resisted FB for a long time and then someone said I was too young to not to be a part of the changing world. Of course, flattery motivates. Now I quite enjoy reconnecting with past relationships, seeing the other dimensions of people I thought I knew, and making new connections. I try to remember to use FB to enhance, not replace connections.

  2. Having family and friends all over the world, I have to love Facebook. I hate phones and am not good about writing (letters OR emails) so Facebook is a good way for me to keep in touch. I love that I can know even little things about people that I would otherwise miss. I feel like I know some of my cousins, aunts (including you!), uncles, etc. more than I may have even if we'd stayed in Canada!

  3. Diane, it's true. I like the little mundane details that people post. Those small things are the fiber of our daily lives and tell us what matters to people.

  4. Martha, you're right: we sometimes need to remember to make a real connection, not just a virtual one.


What did you think? Any comments?

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...