Updated – see below.

Earlier today, as on most days, I was minding my own business and checking   my email.  The first of today’s messages was from Facebook, asking me if I wanted to check out my friend Pete’s Facebook page. This did not surprise me in any way, for it is far from the first such message I have received from Facebook (nor is it the first that mentioned Pete).  Every so often, Facebook drops me a line to see if I would like to be friends with – well – my friends.  I assume this is just a result of some part of the Facebook process, probably my friends occasionally search Facebookia to see if I’m wandering about the hinterlands or some-such.  Ostensibly, my email address gets batted around as part of this process.

To be honest, this set of circumstances doesn’t bother me.  Up ’til now it has only been an occasional, minor annoyance.  And since it apparently originates from someone who is, in fact, my friend, I don’t mind in the least.

Today, however, my inbox was inundated by Facebook fallout.  And it wasn’t the usual ‘invitation’ type crap.  Today, I received a series of ten additional emails, each informing me that one of my friends (many of them far-flung) has added me as a friend on Facebook (in order:  Chris, Scott, John, Susie, Bob, Patty, Drew, Frank, Barb and Ted).  All of these seemed to be the sort of message Facebook sends when one Facebookite attaches themself to another Facebookite.  The strangeness arises from the fact that I am not, nor have I ever been, a Facebookite.  And since these emails arrived in a cluster, I started to wonder whether someone had set up a Facebook page in my name.  Following a link, though, just led to a page asking me to sign up for Facebook.

In the end, it seems as though it simply amounts to an odd but (mostly) harmless Facebookian glitch.  For some reason, the latest invitation that came my way in Pete’s name must have raised flags at everyone else’s page, in response to which they ‘friended’ (a curiously bizarre verb) me (not, in fact, the case.  See below).

So this is largely an open letter/response to Pete, Chris, Scott, John, Susie, Bob, Patty, Drew, Frank, Barb and Ted (and Ellyn, Jeff, Lisa, Doug, Peter and David.  And Steve and Dylan and Wendy. See below).  To start with: thanks, folks.  It’s nice to get occasional reminders who your friends are (not that I had any doubts).  Facebook, however, doesn’t figure into my version of the universe.

Not that I have anything against Facebook.  I mean – I know that there are a variety of security concerns (and I seem to hear about a new one every week or so), but they’re not the sort of security concerns that actually – well – concern me.  Read back a few posts and you’ll learn everything you need to know about my views of security on the internet.  In a nutshell, there’s no such thing as security on the internet.  This doesn’t bother me, though, because I know it and I behave accordingly.

In fact, I’m rather partial toward Facebook.  I’ve known more than one person who was reunited with an old, absent friend via Facebook.  From the looks of it, Facebook seems to be a corner of the Social Web that actually has something to offer adults.  I view this as a real, valuable service.  I’ve also heard that Facebook functions well as a form of ‘One-Stop Shopping’ when it comes to keeping up with your friends (this from Drew, who is usually actively and openly hostile toward technology in virtually any form).  So it’s not like I have anything against Facebook – it’s just that I, personally, don’t do it.

Why?  Mainly because I just don’t have the time.  I am an obsessive dork, and the last thing I need is one more web app to suck up my time.  But it’s not just the fact that Facebook is part of the ‘Social Web’ that’s stopping me.  I am not, in fact, afraid of the ‘Social Web’.  If you look in the sidebar (and/or if you read previous posts), you’ll see that I’m a fan of Twitter, another biggie on the ‘Social Web’ hit parade.  I have turned my scrutiny upon the ‘Social Web’, and in the end I chose to frequent only Twitter, because it just plain fits my lifestyle best.  And I’m not just repeating what I’ve mentioned previously.

You see, Twitter is the neighborhood bar of the ‘Social Web’.  It’s a ‘Web 2.0’ Boston-based sitcom.  It’s a warm, comfortable place where you are known and welcome, but not particularly obligated.  Signing on to Twitter is very much like walking into your neighborhood bar – you walk in, sit down, order a beer and look around.  You can talk to anyone else present – if you’re of a mind – but no one will be upset if you just sit in silence and enjoy your beer.  It’s a place remarkably devoid of expectations, except in the case of manners.  And you’re generally forgiven your stupidity, so long as you don’t abuse the privilege.

As I said, Twitter fits my lifestyle (and my attitude) quite well.  So I think that – for now, at least – I’ll stick with Twitter as my app of choice for the ‘Social Web’.  This may change in the future, but in the mean time feel free to stop by at any time.  I’ll be sitting at the bar, and I’ll save a stool for you.


Update: Today has added six (now 9) more to the list of those who have ‘friended’ me at Facebook (Ellyn, Jeff, Lisa, Doug, Peter and David.  And Steve and Dylan and Wendy.).  I also got an e-mail back from Pete, who informed me that he had simply sent along an invitation, along with a list of people he thought I’d be interested in ‘friending’.  He did not, however, send my e-mail address to any of them.  This means that Facebook did so.  Shall we talk about privacy, anonymity and internet security?  Keep in mind that I am not a member of Facebook, so I never agreed to any of their terms.  I’m willing to bet that this means they most certainly do not have the right to play fast and loose with my e-mail address.  Of course, e-mail addresses are probably – technically – public knowledge (like street addresses), so this sort of thing likely happens all the time.  Still, I’d rather Facebook asked my permission before tossing my e-mail address around like their personal plaything (this also makes me very happy that I don’t have a Facebook page.  I wonder how little respect they have for the personal information of people who have agreed to their TOA?).

The more important implications here are the metaphysical ones (as My Darling Wife was quick to point out).  My non-existent Facebook page now has 16 (19) friends.  Does this lend it a semblance of an existence?  In much the fashion that belief lends existence to small gods, elves and faeries, has life been breathed into my Frankenstein-like Facebook page because 16 (19) people now genuinely believe in its existence?