The other day, a friend of mine emailed me and asked, "When are you going to get on Facebook?" My reply back went something like this:
Facebook. Ugh. I already spend way too much time on the Internets and the computer right now. Sounds like you’re enjoying it, though!
While "too much time on the computer" is the primary reason, I've largely resisted joining any of these virtual social networking sites because I believe in good old face-to-face interaction. That's not to say I believe I can't meet or make friends with people I meet online. The opposite is, in fact, true.
Cases in point: My friends, the Scary Feminists from Hell. We met when we were all in grad school and participated in an email list group of Mormon graduate students called LDS Grads. Had it not been for this august group of tribal members in academia spread all over the globe, my circle of friends would be significantly smaller and I never would have participated in Sunstone, enjoyed the Columbia River Gorge, had Thanksgiving in Reno, gone to an art opening in Manhattan, been a groomsperson in a wedding on the hottest day on record in Pasadena, included the insights of a friend in my master's thesis, or been a part of a host of other fun stuff and significant events over the years with this fabulous group of women.
My friends and acquaintances I've met and made through blogging, like Sister Mary Lisa or Sideon or Alice or the Gunfighter or Suzanne or Phoebe or Abgue or Cele. I've enjoyed reading about their lives and, when occasions have permitted, actually meeting them in person and sharing a meal and conversation that leaves me feeling enlightened and uplifted.
Or the YahooGroups I've participated in over the years that have brought me into contact with people who have become dear friends, like Bishop Aitch or the women who contributed to a collection of essays I assembled about Mormon women's faith and sexuality or the Great Women's Dinner group--a group of women I currently get together with every few months for dinner and laughs.
The Internets have certainly enriched my life and resulted in deep, lasting relationships I cherish, friendships I enjoy, and the acquaintance of smart, fun people.
But, I'm not 100% convinced that Facebook or MySpace or Second Life will do for me what I've already managed to achieve through group lists and blogging. In fact, all of these virtual social networking sites feel clique-ish, juvenile, and awkward--for lack of a better word. Having not enjoyed periods in my life, like high school, for exactly those reasons, I am, to quote Captain Barbossa, "Disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means, 'no'."
More than that, these sites seem like places to hide in the safety of virtual--i.e. unreal--relationships that do little to encourage actual--i.e. real--social, face-to-face interaction. While I've been okay participating in group lists and blogging, I haven't made them my only social outlet, if that makes sense. I get out and among people regularly and I enjoy meeting the people I'm familiar with online. In fact, when I travel, I let people know where I'm going so if anyone in my known circle wants to get together, we can. The idea of traveling to California and not seeing Sideon, or Switzerland and not visiting The Swizzies or Dr. Lala, or Salt Lake and not meeting Abgue or Lolatini, or Pennsylvania and not hooking up with my cousin-xx-times-removed-or-something (we haven't figured it out yet, but we're pretty darn sure my great-grandmother and her grandfather were siblings) Holly seem like opportunities missed and wasted .
And then there are the people whose blogs I enjoy and whom it might be fun to meet one day if all the stars aligned properly. (I won't list them here. I'd hate to creep them out. Besides, while I might think it would be great to meet them, they might not feel the same. And who wants to be in that awkward social situation? I like this kind of stuff to happen naturally.)
So, am I missing something? I am totally unhip or uncool? Should I get on the Facebook bandwagon? Personally, I'm perfectly happy where I am, but if my next job hinges on whether I'm hip to Facebook, I'm screwed.