How do you balance mixing family, friends, peers, and co-workers on Facebook?Facebook has one exasperating problem that all the other social networks do not have: My mom is on Facebook. And she comments on everything I post – either delight at something about her grandkids, or bewilderment at anything not about her grandkids. If your mom is on Facebook maybe you know what I'm talking about. That said, Facebook has become the best way to share family news and photos with other family members. Neither my wife nor I have any immediate family here in Tulsa – mine are in Texas, hers in Texas and Kansas. So I like being able to post pics and news of my girls for the rest of the family.
I have 2 Facebook co-worker friends in a company of over 800. I used to have 3. My good work friend Tim added me as a Facebook friend, then dropped me as a Facebook friend. The bastard. No, I totally understand. It was just too much, I get it. The Facebook me isn't the real me. I post something and never know what kind of comments I'll get from someone who only knew me during a particular phase of my life. It can get awkward. That probably wasn't the real Tim on Facebook either. Now he doesn't have to know that 90% of my FB posts are commented on solely by mom. I don't miss that shame.
So if I'm the family-me on Facebook, the professional-me on LinkedIn, then I guess the closest social media equivalent to the real-me is on Twitter. Tweets have a shorter lifespan, they have a certain timely context. There's less risk to tweeting something off the cuff into the digital ether, because I don't know who's listening. I can just express myself and move on. I don't get the sense of freedom on Facebook as I do on Twitter.
I've been on Facebook for 5 years, and this is the first time I've bothered to articulate how I feel about it. And after thinking about it, I believe you're supposed to lose touch with some people. I'm Facebook Friends with people who went to elementary school with me. I didn't really know them then, and I certainly don't now. But there they are, my "Friend." These people are going through monumental life events. Having kids, getting jobs, losing jobs, losing parents – how am I supposed to feel? I shouldn't know you lost a parent just because we were in Mrs. Gobin's 2nd grade class. I should only know because we're close enough that you told me. Or because the news found its way to me from a friend who heard the news and knew I would care.
And another thing – if we're all Facebook friends, what the hell are we going to talk about at the 20th high school reunion this fall? Guess I could pose that question on Facebook. I'm sure my mom has some good advice.