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Dazed and confused (on Facebook)

By Pam Pastor
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last updated 21:33:00 01/30/2009

A LITTLE over a week ago, I finally succumbed to the evils of Facebook. I bit the bullet, signed up and immediately learned one thing?I do not like being poked.

It was a week of reckless Internet living, of signing up for things that I know would suck time out of my hourglass. Plurk was on top of that list, Facebook second.

I had spent many months ignoring friends who had been trying to convince me to sign up. ?Everyone?s there!? ?You?ll find people you?ve never found on Friendster!? ?You can build a zombie army!? ?You can throw sheep!?

Building a zombie army and throwing sheep at people sounded mighty appealing but I just wasn?t ready for that kind of commitment. I already had my hands full juggling my Multiply, Flickr, Yahoo Messenger, Friendster, MySpace, my blogs and my e-mail inboxes.

But I stopped blogging all the time, I quit my 365 Days Project on Flickr and I hardly ever open my MySpace and Friendster accounts so I figured I had time for another online preoccupation. I decided it was time to join the rest of the world on Facebook.

Friend requests

I was surprised at the amount of friend requests waiting for me when I signed up. Old college buddies, people from work, people who read my blog regularly, even grade school friends who never talked to me in the 11 years we spent in the same school. They were all there.

I found more familiar faces thanks to the People You May Know feature. That one?s a brilliant idea. I started clicking on people and couldn?t stop.

When I checked my Gmail inbox, I was shocked. I had about five pages? worth of Facebook notifications. Swimming in so many e-mails from the social networking site, I missed a few important messages. My lame response to agitated e-mail writers? ?Umm, I?m sorry, it was buried in Facebook crap.?

I learned my lesson and tweaked my notification settings. Then, I posted my first Facebook status: ?Pam is finally on Facebook and is very confused (and also a little drunk but that?s beside the point).

Soon, messages were pouring in. Or, rather, people started writing on my wall. ?Don?t worry, we?re all confused and drunk here!? ?It must be the apocalypse. I can?t believe it Pammy! You?ve succumbed to the dark side!? ?Totoo ba to?? ?I still can?t believe you?re here!? ?We need to hang out soon!? ?Welcome to the dork side! Mwahahaha!? ?Did you cave to peer pressure like I did??

One astrology-obsessed friend even wrote, ?I think your joining Facebook is very Mercury retrograde plus solar eclipse in Aquarius!?

Overwhelmed

I don?t think I replied to a single one of them?I was too overwhelmed. It was probably a good thing too because I?ve heard a number of horror stories from people who were new to Facebook and had no idea that what they write on other people?s walls can be read by everyone else. Secrets spilled, embarrassment, angry friends?no, thank you.

I did what I knew?I just kept adding people I know and approving the friend requests that kept coming in.

Feeling too lazy to update my profile, I left a lot of spaces blank?about me, activities, interests, favorite music, TV shows, movies, books. I thought about swiping what I already had on Friendster but felt that would be too much of a copout.

I flexed my Facebook muscles and added a couple of photo albums but that?s as far as I?ve gone.

Bizarre requests

But people continue to be extremely welcoming and willing to take me deeper into this crazy online world. They?ve sent me gifts?from Tokidoki dolls and blingy Havaianas to a bouncing ninja turtle. Too bad they?re lost in cyberspace and will never really make it to my doorstep.

I?ve gotten all kinds of requests ranging from interesting to bizarre. I?ve been invited to play a Mafia-style combat game, I?ve been asked to join a rock band, I?ve received challenges to play poker and word puzzles. Someone wants me to adopt a Super Pet. Another friend flung liver and belly congee at me (yuck). I?ve been chest-bumped. And, to top that all, I?ve also been kidnapped.

I have yet to accept any of these requests?I am much too overwhelmed. I also get surprised when the chat windows pop up. Thank God for Wanggo who taught me how to hide with just a few mouse clicks.

Facebook isn?t a big fan of secrets. The event invites tell people where you?re going and where.

And because a friend tagged me in a photo at last week?s The Manor launch, people now know I was shameless and had a photo taken with Sam Milby. Cringe.

Friends think I?ve become addicted. ?No way,? I keep telling them. ?I swear, I don?t get it.?

When the craziness of Facebook becomes too much to take, I seek refuge in the simplicity of Plurk.

All the poking

My Facebook experience has led me to question if I?m really as Internet savvy as I thought I was. Normally?whether it?s Friendster or Flickr or Multiply?when I take the plunge, I really take the plunge. That hasn?t happened with Facebook. It must be all the poking that?s putting me off.

The truth is, there really is a lot to love about Facebook. It doesn?t just hook you up with all your friends and acquaintances, it really helps you keep tabs on what everyone?s been doing. That?s how I found out a friend?s been stuck at a photo shoot on a day we were all looking for him, it?s how another friend announced her engagement.

So maybe I should stop shunning the website and running every time someone pokes me. Maybe I should try having fun on Facebook?that?s what everyone else is doing anyway.

Maybe tomorrow, I?ll throw sheep at you.

E-mail the author at ppastor@inquirer.com.ph.

     


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