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Facebook: A Blessing and a Curse

March 2, 2011

I had a good friend laughing hysterically the other night over my Facebook ramblings.

I love Facebook most of the time.  It also causes some really awkward social experiences.  I received quite a few invitations for at least a year and asked my best friend, “What is this?  It wants me to enter my real name?  No way!”  She said I could adjust my privacy settings, but there were people I was happy to be out of touch with like ex-boyfriends, guys who wanted to be my boyfriend, one of my old roommates who made all of us other girls want to sleep with one eye open, etc.

But, I finally gave in.

What I Love

I was really happy to be in touch with my extended relatives who live all over the world.  Some of them I see maybe once every 5-10 years and I miss them so much.  It’s great to see their pictures and what they’ve been up to.

Getting in touch with friends I hadn’t been able to find in other ways.  One of them I even looked up on there and I still couldn’t find her, but she found me!  It was funny because she was afraid I wouldn’t remember her.

The ability to plan a quick girls’ night without worrying if everyone’s e-mail address is up to date or throwing it out there for friends in the area that you suddenly need childcare.  Huge blessing in that way.

It’s a quick way to post pictures for friends and relatives to see instead of taking the time to resize and e-mail them.

What I Don’t Love

I didn’t realize just how many people would be on there and found myself feeling obligated to take friend requests from everyone at church.  I would hesitantly accept and later regretted one because it’s harder to remove someone than not accept them in the first place.  One lady has struggled hard in her life lately, but I really couldn’t stand to read comments like, “I wish these sick kids weren’t mine.”  That was just one of many negative comments about her children. 

Friend requests from people who just want to up their friend count but didn’t give me the time of day in high school.  I’ve accepted some thinking maybe things were different now, but no, nothing has changed. 

The potential to embarrass others.  I was horrified to see an old photo that someone tagged of my cousin that all of her friends could see – her dad, brothers, probably co-workers, etc.  When she had her friends make a cast of her belly at her baby shower, it was just the girls and I doubt she ever imagined one of them would post it online for everyone to see her in her underwear and only plaster on her top half, but most especially not in a way that would ensure so many people she knows would see it.  It looked like a fun experience, but only to be shared with that chosen group.  There was also a photo of me and my friends that I had no shame about, but others who lead a more public and professional life were humiliated.  My best friend called it her “Facebook Nightmare”.  We were wearing our jazz choir uniforms and made our hair and make-up as unattractive as possible.  I would proudly display it as my profile picture.

Stories of old flames contacting each other.  One of my friends was so upset because her husband’s ex-fiance found it necessary to send him a friend request.  She tried to act innocent about it, but thinking his wife wasn’t reading it, she wrote to him that she would always love him and if he wanted, he could say that he loved her too.  I had told him years ago when she sent him an e-mail that she didn’t want to resume the friendship.  Most likely her marriage wasn’t going well and she wanted to see if his was also unpleasant for him.  I said, “Tell her to go away.  Immediately.”  So he tactfully did so and she acted all offended.  There really wasn’t much of a “friendship” to resume since their relationship was pretty much purely physical, so she only proved me right with the private message she sent him on Facebook.  Of course, she tried to backpedal and say she only meant it as a friend.  Yeah, right.

Mafia Wars, Farmville, and other annoying games.  I did have a good laugh though when a friend took a screenshot where she had spelled out with her crops, “I quit.”  She had taken up the game for her grandkids, but didn’t enjoy it.

Malware.  I hardly click on anything anymore unless it was very obviously posted by a friend. 

Learning that a guy I had a bad experience with in high school was friends with a good friend.  He later ticked her off badly by writing to her via private message, “Your baby sure is cute!  Are you sure he’s not mine?”  He probably didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but her husband wanted to hurt him. 

The confusion.  I just couldn’t figure it out at first and a tutorial would have been great.

My Tips

In case you’re new to it or have trouble figuring out how Facebook works, here are some things I have learned.

You can block people, but you have to find their profile first.  They won’t be able to see anything you write and you won’t be able to see anything they write.  It does make things a little interesting if you have mutual friends because that mutual friend might answer the blocked person under their status.  So let’s say you have someone named Bob blocked.  A mutual friend might write under their status, “Thanks, Bob!” but Bob’s comment isn’t there. 

You can hide people if they bother you – possibly a better option than defriending them.

If you start to feel uncomfortable with certain people reading your status updates, you can hide it from them.  This took me a long time to figure out and would have been handy in so many situations.  If you want to throw a surprise party, you can hide that message from the surprisee.  See the padlock symbol underneath the status update box?  Click on that, then on “customize”.  You’ll see options to hide it from people you select, or you can choose people who you want to see it.  You can even create lists to post to.  So if something only applies to people who live in your town, you can make a list for them and only post a status to that list.  Or maybe there is something you only want other women to read, family, etc.   You can customize your status for one update or you can check the box “set as default”.  One lady at church takes a little too much interest in some people for their comfort, so one of her targets was very grateful to learn about the customize option.  I took the road less traveled and upset the woman a great deal by not accepting her request.  This was because she was already attempting to invade my life using every other method.

If you don’t want to take a request, it’s best to click on “ignore” or else the person will see on their newsfeed when you make friends with others.

If your wall is open and someone sends you a request, they will also see your posts until you click on “ignore”.  They will realize you are choosing not to respond to their request.

If you write on a friend’s wall, it will show up on your mutual friends’ newsfeed.  It is not a private method of communication at all, so don’t say anything that might embarrass you or someone else.

If someone sends a message to you and a bunch of other people, it will automatically “reply all” if you reply.  Don’t say anything to the sender that you don’t want the whole group to see.

Why My Friend Was Laughing So Hard

She didn’t know how to get out of a Facebook friendship without hurting the person’s feelings.  I told her, “You could do a customized status update to only them announcing that you are leaving Facebook.  Then you can block them and they’ll just think you quit!”   Of course, if you have mutual friends, they’ll probably figure it out sooner or later that you were lying.

Happy Facebooking!  Or Happy not Facebooking.  I can see why some people hate it with a passion. Like this guy.  Really, really funny.

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