Saturday, January 17, 2009

Facing the truth

I suppose I ought to file a followup report, so to speak. I decided to break down and finally join Facebook.

I gotta say, it's been fun. I just signed up less than two days ago, and I already have 51 "friends". Now, none of these people are strangers, but admittedly a few of them are people that I probably wouldn't have shed a tear over not getting to contact again someday. (I won't mention who, just in case someone comes to read this and gets their feelings hurt; not that I think it's likely many of them care so much either.)

It's been eventful, too, not just "friendful" if I may coin the term. I recontacted an old friend I haven't seen in nearly 20 years who just happened to join the day before I did. I found out another old friend just got engaged. I had another friend about whom I was thinking "I wonder if this person is still friends with so-and-so," to immediately find that "so-and-so" had just sent me a friend request. And the cherry on top was probably connecting to an old friend whose immediate action upon "friending" me was to post an 18-year-old picture of me with a condom on my head.

Actually, there were certain things that are interesting in a more cerebral way. One friend pointed me to a tool that would map how my "friends" were "friends" of each other, revealing that although everyone seemed to be immediately connected, in fact I seemed to have two or three "clusters" of friends: people from my the town where I grew up, and people from a place where I used to work and my church. It was interesting to think about how looking at specifically the "friends" that I have, those clusters seemed to form, and I suspect that many other people would also find their "friends" forming into the same sort of clusters, and yet while clustering is no doubt common, if one were to look at the whole community of Facebook in a relational diagram, the fact that everyone belongs to various peoples' clusters in different ways implies that the overall effect would be more difficult to show in a diagram than the structure of this massive run-on sentence you're reading.

Of course, such thought, along with others made me think about the whole "six degrees of separation" concept (One of Will Smith's early movies, and very good!) and how Facebook plays into that. There was actually a "six degrees of separation" group that one could join, the purpose of which was to see if everyone in Facebook was connected in such a manner. I actually don't doubt it after the small taste I had, or at least that something like, say, 98% of Facebook members with at least two friends are part of the same interconnected mass of digital humanity. Really, there's something interesting about the way it works as an experiment in social dynamics.

As well as everyone being there, it seemed as well like every thing was there. The six degrees group was just one of thousands. I thought I'd join a group of fans of the show "House, M.D." and found myself wondering which one of the dozens there were to join. Any television show, any movie, any book, any celebrity or other pop culture phenomenon in the world probably has a fan club on Facebook. (Yes, they have a fan club for gay penguins, I checked.)

Now, do I feel more connected? Yeah, a little. I'd still rather spend time with my wife and kids, though.

1 comment:

Liadan said...

Ooh, gay penguins? So joining that group.