I remember when I joined Facebook. In that ancient time (er, a year and a half ago), the Facebook universe was populated almost entirely of people my age or younger. I could reconnect with friends from college and high school and others with whom I'd lost touch, and we could all poke each other and buy virtual drinks for each other and leave flirty messages on each other's walls and there was the sense that, even though this was all semi-public, it was somehow a safe, closed community.
Of course, the population of Facebook users has expanded: first gradually, then, uh, less gradually. Then exponentially. I suspect that soon the population of Facebook users will outnumber the population of humans on the planet.*
*I'm serious. With people setting up Facebook profiles for their pets, fictional characters, etc . . . soon Facebook people will outnumber real people. They'll be able to overpower us in battle, if it ever came to that.
With the population explosion of Facebook users, the feeling of a semi-closed community has naturally faded. Now, this isn't altogether a bad thing; indeed, I suppose it's sort of the point. Greater networkability and all that. And in fairness, I was only able to join after Facebook opened itself up to non-college students, and no doubt many users felt their sense of community threatened when people like me starting showing up.
So I haven't really minded. Occasionally I've had friend requests from older relatives and think, "That's a little weird. He/she is on Facebook?" But no big deal.
Alas, I can ignore the demise of the old, somewhat contained Facebook universe no longer: My Mom is on Facebook.
Apparently, her brother e-mailed her and the rest of her family and said that they should all join Facebook. So she did. This led to a conversation yesterday evening in which I tried to explain the intricacies of Facebooking to her, with little success.
castlerook's Mom: So, how does Facebook work? What are you supposed to do?
castlerook: Well, Facebook helps you stay in touch with people. You friend people and then you can see each other's profiles and send each other messages and stuff.
castlerook's Mom: Isn't that like e-mail?
castlerook: Well, yeah. But you can also leave messages on people's walls, messages that other people can see too. Not only that, but you can see what other people are saying to each other!
castlerook's Mom: Oh. And, you're supposed to put photos of yourself up, right?
castlerook: Yes, you can put up lots of pictures of yourself for eveyone to see, and videos too. Plus you can play games with all your Facebook friends--Scrabble clones and Boggle clones. You can even take lots of quizzes that will tell you things about yourself, like What City You Are or Who You Were in a Past Life.
castlerook's Mom: I see.
castlerook: Does that help?
castlerook's Mom: I think so. Oh, one more thing (she pauses and her expression becomes very concerned and serious): What does it mean to "poke" someone?
So now I have a friend request from my Mom, and of course I will accept, but I'm delaying doing so for a few more hours, at least. I need time to scour my profile for any embarrassing content. Hmm, how will she feel about so-and-so "sending me a Red Kool-Aid?" Do my lists of favorite music and movies pass parental scrutiny?
Okay, maybe it's not so bad. I lead a pretty clean life, after all, and my Facebook profile generally reflects that. Nothing too incriminating after all.
Oh, except for this: my profile contains a link to this blog.