Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Facebook follies: To FB or not to FB...

To date, I have resisted the siren call of Facebook. Part of the reason being that, between my blog, my boards, e-mails, & just general surfing around, I think I waste -- ummm, spend??! -- enough time on the Internet as it is. ; ) Not to mention the odd game of Spider Solitaire, time spent scanning & editing photos, adding to my Family Tree Maker files, etc. etc....

However... while my company discourages employees from logging onto Facebook at work (at one point so many people were logging on at work -- & posting inappropriate content about the company (!) -- that access was blocked for awhile), they have been pilot testing an internal Facebook-type tool for employees. The trial went so well they are going to begin rolling it out company-wide. I will soon be granted access and, since I work in the communications department, I think it behooves me to get with the program. ; )

Our department director, in talking about the new program, was asking how many of us already used Facebook, & quite a few hands went up -- mostly the younger employees, of course, but apparently he does, as well as one of the senior managers. (Both of them, of course, are parents of teenagers...!) So I am thinking that maybe I should give it a whirl, so as not to appear completely ancient (or at least, more ancient than I already seem...), & perhaps to get some experience before getting access to the company version.

Those of you on Facebook -- what are the pros? the cons? What privacy controls are available that you would recommend to a newbie?

Time considerations aside, my reservations about Facebook also have to do with putting myself "out there" -- and having worlds collide. While I've shared some personal information through this blog, I've tried to keep it relatively non-specific. My family & friends IRL do not know I blog -- & I'd like to keep it that way. : ) On the Internet, my main communities revolve around pregnancy loss, infertility and scrapbooking. You all know about my scrapbooking interests, but I have not said much on my scrapbooking forums about my loss & infertility-related activities online.

Even beyond the IRL/Internet divide -- my life has been pretty compartmentalized. Having lived in so many places, I have sets of friends from the different places I've lived & gone to school, friends from our pg loss support group, friends & acquaintances from different places I've worked (including my present co-workers), my extended family members, dh's relatives.... possibly even fellow bloggers/IF/loss board people & scrapbookers -- all people who could theoretically converge on my Facebook page & learn about parts of my life they may not have known about me before this.

It's not that I have anything top secret to hide... but at the same time, I'm just not sure how much I want my co-workers (or my inlaws!!) to learn how I got the nickname "Moody Blue" at university. That kind of stuff.

Is this something that concerns any of you as well? How do you deal with this? Do you have to use your real name on Facebook? Is it possible to have two accounts, one with your real name & one with your Internet ID?


*** *** ***

Proof that I am a technical dinosaur:
  • I can remember when we had to use a rotary antenna to tune in the few TV stations we got.
  • I was in high school when we got cable TV (which included about a half-dozen TV stations, as opposed to the three we got before that, and the one I lived with for the first 14 years of my life).
  • I remember getting a cassette tape recorder & how much fun we had with it, taping "shows" where we sang, chatted & told jokes. (I still have some of those tapes. They are roll-on-the-floor-laughing-until-you-cry hilarious.)
  • As I mentioned in my post about the Osmonds recently, I remember using the cassette recorder to tape TV shows, pre-VCRs (you'd just set up the microphone by the TV speaker & hope nobody talked too loud in the background).
  • My journalism school class (1984) was the first to use computers (a very primitive program... we also had to share a printer, which involved disconnecting & connecting cables on the wall).
  • When I first started work at my company (in 1986), I had an IBM Selectric typewriter on my desk. The department shared two Xerox PCs in a common area (besides the two used by the secretaries). We used a program called WordStar & saved our drafts on 5.25" floppy diskettes.
  • Eventually we "graduated" to IBM PS/2 computers & WordPerfect. (We now use Word.)
  • There was one fax machine in the entire 10-storey building I was in. If we needed to fax something, we would go upstairs & sweet-talk the secretaries there into letting us send it. If somebody needed to fax something to us, we would give them that number, and ask the secretaries there to call us when it arrived, so we could come pick it up.
  • When we had to send a document out for approval, we would pop it into the interoffice mail and then sit back & wait a few days for it to be returned. If it was really urgent & the person was close by, we would walk it over.
  • I can remember when music videos were a novelty. About the only time you could watch them was once a week, late on Friday nights after Johnny Carson & the Tonight show ended. (I also remember seeing MTV for the first time. They played Madonna's "Borderline" & "Like a Virgin" endlessly.)
  • I still have all my vinyl albums & 45s.
  • We only got a CD player about five years ago, and a DVD player about 3 years ago.
  • I have never had a Sony Walkman, let alone an iPod.
  • I did have a really cool looking Panasonic transistor radio that my uncle gave me for Christmas when I was 12. I would turn it on when I was supposed to be asleep & listen to it with the earphone, twisting the dials. On a clear night, from my bedroom in southwestern Manitoba, I could sometimes tune in WSTP Minneapolis and WLS Chicago.
  • I have never sent a text message on my cellphone.
  • I do not understand why people think it is necessary to talk on their cellphones in public places as if they were sitting in their living rooms.
  • I have never been "into" video/PC games (unless you count Tetris -- I once stayed up until 2 a.m. playing that...!).
  • I may be considering Facebook, but I can't see myself signing up for Twitter (but never say never, I guess...!).
Proof that I am not THAT bad:
  • This blog. : )
  • I have been posting on bulletin boards for a number of years now.
  • I can scan & edit photos on my PC.
  • I am transferring over my genealogical research into a family tree program.
  • I am fairly competent in Word, although I still miss WordPerfect sometimes. : )
  • I took a course in Excel (although I rarely use it & consequently have forgotten almost everything I learned...!).
  • I can do simple PowerPoint slides (with text bullets).
  • I do almost all of my banking online these days.
  • I am generally not afraid to try new things on the computer or online... I just like to gather a lot of information before venturing into new territory.
  • I do have a cellphone and although it is rarely turned on, it does come in handy.
  • I know how to input numbers into its directory & how to change the ringtone. : )
  • Consolation: I may never know as much as my nephews do... but I will always know more than my mother. : )


  1. I'm not young, the parent of a teen, or anything else. I do have a FB page (only 'cause my boss recommended My Space as networking to promote my business & i went to FB by accident!) Many of my friends & family are at FB, & so when i go there i catch up with them.

    I personally don't care for the forum that much. It reminds me too much of twitter & that just doesn't fit me well.

    At FB i'm careful NOT to link back to my Google profile which links to my blog. Also i'm careful at Picasa that way as well. My blog is not private, but i don't want to share with my family. There are things i want the freedom to blog about without worrying about who i'm offending. So far no problems.

  2. Hmm.

    Well, on the plus side for FB, I found highschool friends (also a minus side)
    It's a nice way to see who's up to what.

    I don't list my blog on FB, so people wouldn't know about it unless I tell them.

    On the plus side, you could be my friend on FB. . .

  3. I protested Facebook for awhile... I finally joined after our wedding when friends were posting pictures of our big day and the only way I could see them was to log on.

    I've been very inactive since we lost our baby. Facebook, at least my "friends", is full of people posting ultrasound pictures and status updates like "Sara is 30 weeks today!" and I couldn't handle that. I still log on frequently just to stay on top of things, but I rarely update anything. I came to the conclusion that Facebook is for happy people. Right now, I'm not that happy, and I've become increasingly private IRL, so it's not such a good fit anymore.

  4. My cousins and I also taped 'radio shows' when we were kids! I found one of the 'scripts' a year ago, and lmao! We were very obsessed with potty humour (well, some things never change).

    CON: Facebook doubles as 'Babybook.' You'll get slammed with your friends' baby photo albums, u/s pics, and the like. They show up in the news feed, especially in the right-hand column. Also, FB seems to be THE place for pregnancy announcements, which I hate.

    PRO: It's nice to catch up with people whom I don't see much. I like socializing in person, but it's fun online, too.

    As for privacy, you can select individual settings for people - so that your co-workers, for instance, can't see intimate things on your profile, such as your photos.

    Also in terms of privacy, most of my IRL peeps don't know about my infertility, and only my parents know that I've done IVF. Yet I have many of my TTC blogosphere friends on my FB (with pleadings not to mention TTC publicly). It is a risk to have this intermingling going on - I worry occasionally that someone will spill the beans. It came close once or twice, but the messages were esoteric, and I deleted them immediately.

    You could definitely have 2 separate FBs, and you can use a pseudonym for the IF one.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Well, I've completely resisted the Facebook craze for the reason you mentioned -- all worlds collide online. And there are people from my past that I don't care to reunite with, even virtually (uh, my ex-husband being at the top of that list). What sealed the deal for me was when my husband, D, set up an account to keep in touch with family and within a week his old girlfriend was emailing him, trying to reconnect, etc.

    It's a cool tool and I know you can set privacy protection that helps filter who can see what about your life. I wish you luck with it! Let us know how it goes, will you?! :-)

  6. I agree that Facebook might be better called "Babybook." I joined about 6 weeks ago and was freaked out to be suddenly slammed with so many baby pics and updates. And then I went searching for "people from my past" (read: ex-boyfriends) and boom, there they were with their babies.

    (One of my friends is not on FB and recently received a baby shower invite. She contacted the woman and said, "I didn't even know you were pregnant!" and the woman said, "Oh, yeah, I announced it on FB but didn't bother with emails." My friend, who is a proper Southern girl, was aghast at the woman's sense of etiquette.)

    However, much to my pleasure, I've found that the vast majority of my friends from high school and college are single or childless. The people who post a lot of kid-related updates seem to be those with young children (mostly people from my F.ertility F.riend boards). My cousins with older kids spend most of their FB time taking embarrassingly dirty quizzes, LOL.

    I've also been able to reconnect with a few childhood and high school friends for whom I didn't have email addresses. That's the nicest part by far. It is helping me stay in better contact with some friends too.

    I do not link to my blog and have enabled most privacy features. There's a whole page of options. My blog isn't private but nor have I shared it with relatives, all of whom know that I blog (and perhaps they do read it, but I've never had a run-in yet). Also, to keep FB "clean," I'm "friends" with my 12-yr-old nephew and my dad's sisters. I do get a kick out of reading my nephew's updates: "I hate homework!" "I need a new phone!" "Spanish sucks!" etc. : ) And many of my professional contacts are on FB, so that's another reason for reticence.

    Hope to see you on there, Loribeth.

  7. Hi Loribeth-
    FB is ok. I 'reconnected' with lots of friends from all the places that I have lived.

    Those taped radio shows- the perfect hing to upload to FB! My old high school buddies upload old pics or videos - how young we looked!

    I avoid all the 'apps' cause they are major time wasters.

    I don' link to my blog there, and no one from dbl is a FB friend (not that I am opposed to it). Those worlds are separate and I use the pages for different things.

    Your FB page can only be seen by people that you allow (and the company). I didn't propagate all of the fields (like my birth year). Also, I am mindful of questions (there are often tags going around) about my birthplace, my parent's names (and maiden), etc. I often see them as phishing for info.

    I also don't have coworkers as FB friends unless they are friends.

  8. FB is a becoming more cumbersome than I care to bother with. I too am bombarded with ultra sound pics and birthdays of children and now the mother's day. I think I could handle some of it, but it's also blurring the lines between my professional and personal lives. Some of that is beyond my control, as others will post pics and comments about me regardless of whether I'm on FB or not. But I'm seriously considering deleting my account.

    Good luck with what you decide. Lots of babylost mamas have made it work. I'm just not sure anymore.

  9. I'm not an incredibly private person so I probably can't give you good advice. I use my real name on FB so that people can actually find me if they choose to. However, I use my married name, not my maiden name, so I don't have any one from the old days in Toronto contacting me. It's primarily acting friends and colleagues. I use to be on it for hours, but now I just go on every now and then and reply right away to friends and specific invites for events. It's more of professional way to keep in contact with entertainment events. I do not post about infertility or adoption related things. I did at first, but removed a link because so many people can get access. I did go in and change my privacy controls. You can choose to have people have access to only a limited profile. This is important because people have acess to your shared photos and lots of people go through your site with a fine toothed comb. I personally don't have time to look at everyone's vacation photos but some people do - go figure. And just because someone wants to be your "friend" doesn't mean you have to agree. I just "ignore" the invite. I also don't friend people just because they are a friend of a friend of a friend. Some people just want to have a gajillion people on their network. I also ignore quizzes, and applications that I'm not interested which are time wasters.

  10. I had a FB account for all of 2 days and I deleted it in frustration. I found a lot of people made friend requests who hadn't even bothered to phone or email me after Sam died (and they knew what happened). It pissed me off to no end that we'd be "friends" in an alt-universe but they couldn't reach out in real life to pick up the phone. That being said, this was only a month after Sam died so I was probably uber-sensitive. I still haven't gone back though. Good luck with your decision.

  11. I use it mostly as a work tool, but my family has found me there, which has been fun and awkward. Do I really need to be updated on my baby cousin's relationship status? Do I really want my in-laws checking *my* status? And I could live without the slough of ads for baby products.

    This article, 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know, is pretty helpful and discusses ways to share different information with different groups of "friends": http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy/

  12. My advice is to think really carefully about what you might want to use FB for, and stick to that, creating your page and privacy settings accordingly. I didn't do this, and yes, worlds have collided. Mostly insignificantly so far, although I joined Pamela Jeanne's Silent Sorority group and my SIL found it (I'm ok with that, even if she finds my blog, but the idea of people I knew in high school and haven't spoken to in nearly 20 years finding my blog is less appealing.) Also, I do find it's way more on the surface of things, and as for a way to spend my time online, I prefer the blogosphere. At the same time, it is sort of nice to catch up with folks who are far away, and see pictures of my nephews and stuff like that.

    Good luck!

  13. I just don't understand the attraction of Facebook. But that's probably because if I'm not in touch with people from my past, it's because I don't want to be.

    You can have as many facebook accounts as you like, under as many fake or real names as you like. However -- and this is important -- if you decide you're tired of facebooking, it's almost impossible to actually delete your account. You can "suspend" it, but people can still find you if they look.

  14. A high school friend talked me into a MySpace account a few years ago and it was a lot of fun in the beginning finding people I hadn't seen in years but eventually the novelty wore off. And it was awkward when work people started asking questions about comments made by high school/college people.

    I was at a leadership meeting at work and our CEO (who is in her fifties) was telling us of a conference she had been to and was encouraged to 'embrace' technology so she signed up for facebook and twitter. I'm just 32 and I already feel so left behind by technology. Maybe I should embrace it as well.

  15. See, I'm with Niobe: I really don't have a pressing urgency to get in touch with people from my past, and frankly, if they know my name (I didn't change it when I got married) they can find me pretty quickly with a few clicks. And that's with no FB page.

    I'd be PETRIFIED of my blog life and real life crossing, or me accidentally helping it along. I'm curious to see how you fare! Right now I just kindly decline all the invitations I get to join. It makes my stomach clench just thinking about it.

  16. I only started with FB this winter when my sister teased me. I didn't really get it. Now I LOVE it. I love being able to catch up with people and see what they're doing. There's a friend in CA that I would never call or write (well, maybe once a year) but now I always know what he's up to and I can drop him quick notes instead of these long emails catching each other up. I know it's not really social interaction, but it's better than nothing and with some people, it would be nothing because we've fallen out of touch.

    Friend me when you get over there or let me know when you're on.

  17. I'm on Facebook (surprise, surprise) and I think it's just...meh. I haven't connected with anyone outside of the people I've stayed in contact with. I get to keep up with my blog friends' real identities (I totally misplaced that apostrophe) and that's okay.

    I say a resounding "meh."