Thursday, October 02, 2008

What are YOU doing right now?

I am typing on my laptop in the Lehigh, Pennsylvania Airport

I am taking a sip from the Diet Coke that I purchased at the airport Subway. It is cold and refreshing.

I am checking my Blackberry to see if I have any emails.

I am typing again.

If you don’t care that I’m doing any of this, then you obviously are not a member of Facebook, the wildly popular social networking site that invites its members to announce to the cyberspace community exactly what it is they are doing RIGHT NOW!

Right now I am wondering why I ever joined Facebook. I’m wondering that now as well. And now. Now too!

At last count, Facebook had approximately 75 million members, not counting the five million who are desperately trying to join but are having trouble with their Internet connections. What started as a quirky idea in a college dorm room has snowballed into a phenomenon that, in my opinion, threatens to overtake Fantasy Football as the biggest time waster in modern history. (Read Greg's Facebook profile by clicking here)

Mind you, Facebook is not the first social networking site to hit the Internet. I joined the social networking phenomenon two years ago when a business acquaintance suggested I become part of LinkedIn, a “business-oriented” social networking site. By “business-oriented” it means that the members actually have jobs and, furthermore, actual lives. (Read Greg's LinkedIn profile by clicking here)

Such does not appear to be the case with Facebook.

I took the Facebook plunge only after a marketing executive told me it would increase my on line profile and allow people trolling cyberspace one more way to reach me directly. What did I have to lose?

I went to the site and set up my profile. This took just over 92 hours because Facebook wanted to know EVERYTHING about me. Was I married? Single? Engaged? In an open relationship? Or my favorite choice: “it’s complicated.” Excuse me o Facebook gods but what relationship IS NOT complicated?

Was I interested in men or women? Actually I find both men and women interesting, particularly if they’ve had a few drinks and are in the midst of a lengthy airport delay. But I assumed Facebook wanted to know my sexual preference. I left it blank.

What were my political and religious views? I thought there might be drop down boxes to choose from. Had the choices included “Democrat but Sarah Palin makes me laugh” or “church on Sundays unless my daughter has a gymnastics meet,” I would have made a choice. But I left those blank too, simply because I don’t want to be contacted by any Facebook members with conversion on their minds.

The interrogation continued. What were my favorite movies? TV shows? Musical groups? Quotes?

The quotes box stumped me, as I have never gone through life quoting anybody other than my father who lived by the mantra, “So help me God, I am turning this car around right now!” Somehow that didn’t seem appropriate considering some of my Facebook “friends” were quoting Plato, Sun Tzu and Lee Iacocca.

Ah yes, the “friends” you will meet upon joining Facebook. Once my profile was completed and I had announced every known fact about myself except what I ate for breakfast on June 29, 1981, (Note: Facebook support personnel are working to answer that question right now) it was time to sit back and hear from others in the Facebook community who wanted me to be their friends.

It didn’t take long.

Facebook, you see, crawls into your inner being and just keeps digging deeper, much like a tapeworm. Facebook can scan your email address book and determine which contacts also have Facebook profiles. It can contact them directly if you like. It’s a good thing I don’t know anybody named Bob Smith for Facebook would instantly send a message to approximately 549,000 Bob Smiths, letting all of them know that Greg Schwem wants to be their friend.

Instead, people I had long forgotten about wanted to be MY friend. There was a fraternity brother who graduated shortly after I initiated; a Canadian woman who last hired me 10 years ago; a fellow Chicago comedian whose name and face I could barely place.

And my accountant.

I have no idea why my accountant wants to be my friend. Is he not satisfied with the monthly check I send him? I wanted to email all these people back and say, “Where were you when I was seven, huh?” Nobody wanted me to be friends with me then. There was no “Greg’s a pretty cool kid, so let’s ask him to play baseball with us” message board that I could join. But with Facebook, suddenly I was more popular than I had ever been in my life. So I emailed them all back, acted like they were all still fresh in my memory and asked them to stay in touch by writing on my Facebook “wall”.

That was a HUGE mistake.

Opening up your Facebook wall to your friends is another way of saying, “annoy me whenever you like.” It allows them to, indeed, tell me what they are doing right now. Suddenly I was being bombarded with email alerts letting me know that one “friend” “was thrilled that the Sox pulled it out.” Another “is working on a plan.” Another “got sunburned during the kickball tournament” and still another is “counting the minutes until she sees her boys on Wednesday.”

I don’t know if that’s what these friends were doing “right now” or if it was just something they thought everybody should know about. In any event, it caused me to stop what I was doing and read what they were doing.

Before Facebook launched its new look, it gave users a drop down menu containing “what are you doing right now” choices. So, if a user wasn’t actually sure what he or she was doing right now, Facebook could help. One of the choices was “going to bed.” That’s right, I could let my entire collection of on line friends know that I was “going to bed” with a simple mouseclick. Trust me, if anybody interrupted my life with an email stating they were going to bed, I would tell Facebook to WAKE THEM UP. NOW!

The bottom line? I don’t want to know what people are doing right now. I don’t need social networking sites that will distract me from my primary goal, namely getting something done. Which is why today I am launching the first ever “anti-social networking” site. Simply put, this is a site for people who don’t care to be in the loop anymore.

Interested? Then join me. My site will purge your email address book, ultimately leaving you “friendless.” Your name and personal information will be eliminated from message boards, chat rooms, groups, and lists. Nobody will know your favorite color and you won’t know how anybody is celebrating his or her birthday. In short, you will have nothing left to do with your time other than be productive.

That’s what I’m going to do right now.

1 comment:

LoLo said...

HILARIOUS!
COMPLETELY AGREE..I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THIS WHOLE "CHAT-TO-ME" BUSINESS.. HOWEVER, I MUST BE HONST, I BECAME A RECENT FAN OF FACEBOOK BCOZ MY OVERSEAS FAMILY CLASHES WITH TIMING.. SO SINCE I CANT COMMUNICATE WITH THEM BY PHONE, WE EXCHANGE PHOTO'S, COMMENTS ETC, THROUGH IT. UR HILARIOUS.. ITS A WASTE OF TIME FOR THOSE ON IT EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY.. ALMOST PATHETIC.. LOL.. UR FUNNY!