Monday, April 23, 2007

Networking

I used to avoid MSN Messenger because I would get too easily overwhelmed. You'd be having a conversation with one person, and suddenly wham! Everyone you know is online, and they're saying "Hi" to you, and I can only handle talking to one person at a time. (Now I avoid Messenger because I really don't like small talk, and I am incapable of ending a conversation there, for as long as I'm still online.)

In a different way, I'm starting to become overwhelmed by Facebook. I'm becoming overwhelmed by exactly what has excited me about the site: I can get in touch with people. Suddenly I'm tracking down (and being tracked down by) people from high school! People from undergrad! All sorts of camp people! Relatives! People from the Europe trip! My entire department here! So many different worlds, all congregated in one place. At this point, there are seventy-five of them.

It's like the online version of standing in the middle of a huge group of people, all of whom know you from completely different contexts. How do I act? Will something I say on my profile, which would appeal to one of my groups, make other people think I'm a crazy person? Why can't I just be funny like Ky?

It's not like blogging, where I can just think out loud and then people can respond to what I've said (and those people are either complete strangers or people who are close enough to me that I've given them my URL). Facebook is more like a public social situation where I might say something awkward or stupid. And I'm socially awkward like you won't believe! Especially among people who are in that scary middle ground between close friends and strangers.

(But that's not to say that I'm going to be avoiding Facebook anytime soon. It's just too fascinating to observe the complicated social web of those around me.)

5 comments:

Anastasia said...

i think about this all the time, esp the "will something that appeals to one group offend another." honestly, it has from time to time. my political opinions and ummm occasionally profane language choices often clash with friends from christian college but not with my friends from grad school and high school. it's really awkward.

I always think of that seinfeld episode where george is trying to keep his fiance and his friends apart because he's bawdy george with his friends and relationship george with his girlfriend. Worlds are colliding!

Queen of West Procrastination said...

If relationship George is allowed to walk through that door, he will kill Independent George! A George divided against himself cannot stand!

Um, yeah. Apparently I know what you're talking about.

arimich <> said...

And funny. It's weird being in a social situation that has several contexts, but most of the time I just try to stay balanced, and then figure that if the people who haven't seen or talked to me in over 2-3 years are weirded out by who I am, they don't need to hang out with me. It'll work itself out eventually. And that's a nice thing about facebook: at some point, everyone will have gotten to know me from the same perspective, so any collision of worlds wouldn't be nearly as awkward. At least, I hope so!

p.s. I think you're funny.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

But, arimich, you are yourself wherever you go and don't have a trace of social awkwardness. Also, you actually believe that strangers are friends you just haven't met.

arimich <> said...

That is mostly, although not completely, true. I do love to collect people. But you know, I don't think I've ever though of you as socially awkward. You are so good with people, and have a knack for saying funny cool things. You have a pretty wonderful collection, yourself. And cool people should get to konw each other. Just think of facebook as you doing all of those great people a favour and introducing them. :)