Thank You for Being a (Facebook) Friend…
For what seems like years, friends have been bugging me to join Facebook. I’m not much of a technology fan. I refused to get email until all my friends had it. I refused to buy CDs until they stopped making music tapes. I refused to purchase a DVD player until VHS tapes were dinosaurs. And I’ll never, ever Tweet. Like Lewis Black said in his recent comedy special, how arrogant are you to think that millions of people care if you’re shoe-shopping? I never boarded the MySpace train. I’ve since been informed by multiple friends that being on MySpace instead of Facebook is a horribly gauche, modern social faux-pas, almost punishable by banishment from the online world. My 16 year-old niece bugs me constantly: “Uncle Eric, are you on Facebook?” “Uncle Eric, you should be on Facebook!” “Uncle Eric, we could keep in touch better if you were on Facebook.” I’ve thought to myself, I don’t need one more thing to check on the computer everyday. I’m already in email almost all day every day, weekdays at least—both work email and personal email. I’m logged into eBay a lot, too, since I’m a Power Seller. Due to some unfortunate and incredibly irritating fraudulent online purchases several years ago, three times in less than two years, I check my bank account at least once daily. Facebook? No thanks!
But as of Sunday, June 6, 2010, a day that will live in Internet infamy, I’m addicted.
I created an account for my female impersonation alter ego, Anita Mann. I have no interest in creating an account for Eric. I don’t want a male account and a female account to monitor. That would probably send me over the Internet’s edge. Also, I find it deplorable that so many people air their dirty laundry on social networking websites. I don’t care if you had a fight with your lover, and I bet your lover isn’t thrilled to see your personal business out on the worldwide Web for billions to see. “He didn’t take out the garbage again! He snores like a freight train! I think he’s cheating on me!” I’ve also seen acquaintances and family members participate in long, drawn-out wars of words over sites like Facebook. It’s never anything but sad, ugly, and immature. That’s one big downside to Facebook that kept me off it for so long—it’s far too easy to shoot out a nasty comment that you would never say to someone’s face. Technology can be a slippery slope, sliding us all downhill into a polluted pool devoid of social graces, basic human kindness, and common sense. Your “private life” is private for a reason, and when it comes to the private life of acquaintances, I ain’t got nuttin’ to say ‘bout nuttin’.
I intend to use Anita’s Facebook page for two purposes. First, it brings out my inner publicity whore. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone’s said to me, “You had a show last weekend? I wish I knew! I would have come!” Now, if you’re on Facebook along with about 99% of the industrialized world, you’ll know. I am very committed to the art of gender illusion, and I’m all about anything that helps me spread my sequined mission across the world. Second, I’m thrilled to reconnect with so many old friends and acquaintances, including college theatre friends, old roommates, and even some people I dated over a decade ago. I know it’s not the same as a real conversation, but I don’t have time to pick up the phone and call everyone I’ve ever known to utter the Wendy Williams tagline, “How YOU doin’?” I will probably never be a big part of these people’s lives again, and I’m fine with that. Still, it’s great to know where they are in their lives—jobs, kids, pets, geographical locations, that they’ve discovered how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. I’m amazed at the huge variety in my friends’ lives, and I’m so proud of many of them for pursuing their dreams and achieving their goals. I feel like my circle of friends has expanded exponentially in about a week, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
What makes Facebook so addictive? I think it’s all the options for communication. You can post on your Wall, post on someone else’s Wall, comment on someone’s status or pictures, chat through Instant Messenger, or even play online reindeer games. I’m not interested in the games. I don’t care if someone just planted a bushel of beans in Farmville, just birthed a rainbow-colored magical cow, found a big, shiny orange jewel, or set a new winnings record on Family Feud. But I love posting, commenting, and instant messaging. I don’t have to drink my coffee alone in the morning anymore! With three IM windows going at the same time, I barely have time to finish a single cup, which could happily reduce my caffeine intake. My drag queen friends and I have a blast cutting on each other’s posts and pictures—all in good, sisterly fun, of course. Sharing pictures also makes for fabulous Facebook fun. I recently posted an album of snapshots from my Las Vegas getaway. Many friends would never get a chance to see these stunning visual images (*plants proverbial tongue in cheek*). Now, they can choose to “ooh” and “aah” over my Vegas pictures, or they can keep on surfing. They can share in my vacation memories if they want, but they’re not held hostage for an hour at a vacation slideshow viewing party. Another great Facebook feature is commenting on people’s profile posts and watching all the witty comments pile up. It’s like a cocktail party, minus the hangover or having to get out of your pajamas. I’ve literally LOL many times over such comments, while my cats sit and stare at me, thinking Daddy’s lapsed loco.
Fortunately, my job’s Internet firewall blocks social networking sites. Otherwise, I probably couldn’t resist the temptation to stay logged into Facebook all day, every day, and I’d need rehab in no time flat. At home, I have trouble making it through a full television program, NetFlix movie, or an entire chapter in a book. “I wonder if anyone commented on that intriguing picture of the deep-friend Twinkie I devoured in Vegas? I’d better go check!” It’s addictive, but it’s fun. I’m sure the novelty will begin to wear off after awhile, and I may be writing a column in a few months about why I deleted my Facebook page (*rolls his eyes and knows he’s lying*). I think I’m pretty good at navigating this new Facebook world, too, and after having my self-esteem beaten into the ground in the past six months through various personal devastations, I’m a sucker for anything that makes me a success. In nine short days, I’ve managed to whore myself up to over 200 friends, all of whom will be held captive to life updates and receiving invites to my drag shows (*laughs sinisterly*).
“Won’t you be my (Facebook) neighbor?”
Eric and Anita can be reached at email@example.com, and Anita Mann can now be “friended” on Facebook!