Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

with 3 comments

So, yes, the Facebook thing-

I’m sort of with those people who don’t see the point, although it does seem to me that it might come in handy if you have to make a general announcement an want everybody to see, but for some reason can’t or don’t want to call them or e-mail them all individually.

And the way I first went to Facbook started like that.  My high school graduating class was having its 40th reunion, and I  was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to make it, or to make much of it. 

And the thing is,  I wanted to.  I know a lot of you think I had a God awful time in high school, mostly because of Somebody Else’s Music, but SEM is actually a reflection of what happened to me in junior high.  I actually had a kick ass time in high school.

Part of that was certainly the fact that my high school didn’t have much in common with your regular American public school.   There was a cheerleadin team, but I’m not sure what they cheered for–a boys’ school in the vicinity, I think–but nobody paid much attention to them.  

“Popular” in this place didn’t mean athletic, or cute, or any of the rest of it.  Since all the students were girls, it was usually pretty impossible to tell if anyone was dating at all, never mind if the date in question was “cool.”

So “popular” ended up being scholastically accomplished–it was comprised of the people who made the Honor societies (plural) and the people who got the highest SAT scores and the people who were most likely to end up in “name” colleges. 

It was the first place I’d ever been where a girls’ status depended on her brains and ambition, and it existed before there was anything like a feminist movement afoot in the land. 

Sometimes, reading through the comments here about how the English department was full of people who looked down on everybody and thought they were better than everybody else, I get a little frisson of recognition, but it’s not English departments I’m seeing.  

I did, in fact, know a lot of people, growing up, with the attitudes Robert ascribes to his English department, but none of them were in the English department, or involved intellectually in any way at all.

And part of me woners if the widespread distaste of academics for American middle class life might come from this–growing up in a world where just being smart was enough to earn you endless, sneering abuse.

But, like I said, my place was not like this, and I was interested in seeing people, and especially the people I’d been closest to.  Checking in with people you were once close to that you have not seen in forty years is an interesting exercise.

But as I got closer and closer to the time, it became more and more obvious that I wasn’t going to make it, or that if I did it was going to be for no more than a few hours at the end.  

Since some of the people who were organizing this were putting up information and notes on Facebook, I signed on to Facebook in order to see them, and I signed on under my birth name because that’s the name most of these people would remember me as. 

Or rather, they’d remember me by a nickname I hated beyond belief and got stuck with because my cousins also went to this school and wouldn’t call me anything else.  Or allow anyone else to call me anything else.

For what it’s worth, those same cousins still won’t call me anything else, and they go into paroxysms of snit whenever they remember that I didn’t change my name when  I married.

Paroxysms of snit.  That should be the title of something.

Anyway, once I got onto Facebook, all hell broke loose fairly quickly, and it sort of got worse by the day. 

Or maybe worse isn’t the word. More out of control by the day may be more like it.  For one thing, there are a lot of people out there who know a lot more about the names I might be going under than you’d think.   This resulted in my immediately getting “friend requests” for a gazillion people, which, you know was fine.  I’m a sociable sort if I don’t have to sit in a crowded room with people getting liquored up, and I was happy to have them.

Then here were the requests, which had to do with stuff like food fights, which I finally tried out the other day, and have no idea if I responded correctly.  I figure I’ll get back to that when I have a chance.

I did upload some photographs of the cats, nice ones taken by my friends Carol and  Richard when they were over one Sunday, because I’ve sort of decided to use the Facebook page for the happy-face stuff.  

But I also started looking around on Facebook as a sort of general thing, and I came up with some stuff that confuses me.

I understand this as a way to do general announcements, and to find people you haven’t seen in a long time but would like to get back in touch with, or to keep in touch with people you don’t get much of a chance to correspond with or see otherwise.

But the more I looked around, the more I realized that there are a fair number of people who use Facebook to communicate with people they see all the time.  And I do mean all the time.  

Could somebody explain this to me?  Why do you need to send messages through a Fac ebook page when you talk to that someone at least once a week, if not oftener?  There has to be something going on here I don’t get exactly. 

Okay, there’s a lot I don’t get.  I’ve already had to be rescued twice from accidentally subscribing to expensive silliness I had no idea–and still have no idea–how I got myself into.

But certainly there’s got to be something going on here that isn’t just about “communicating,” since some of these people were communicating just fine before Facebook came along.

And what is the difference, exactly, between Facebook and MySpace? 

Okay, I haven’t been to MySpace to check it out.  But it sounds the same when people describe it to me. 

Right.  Anyway.  Here we go again, Jane confronts popular culture and is confused.

But yesterday there was a story in the news about a guy who is suing a Vegas casino because he lost his shirt, which has got to be the ultimate “it’s not MY fault” story in the world.

And tomorrow I’ll get back to morality, the Humanities, and Nathaniel Hawthorne redux, since I’m reading The Blithedale Romance at the moment.

Written by janeh

July 8th, 2009 at 5:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'What I Did On My Summer Vacation'

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  1. I have never had the slightest interest in attending a reunion or meeting people I last saw in high school (or junior high, or elementary school or university). I don’t know how widespread the custom is, but here many small towns periodically have ‘Come Home Years’ which are sort of on the same principle. I’ve dutifully attended one or two of those, mostly as a driver for enthusiastic relatives, but I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about them myself. Oh, I’ve got (or had) a few good friends I’ve lost contact with over the years I wonder about periodically, but they’d be highly unlikely to be into reunions either, and in any case, were mostly people I knew outside of schooling.

    I always had the impression that Facebook and MySpace were exactly the same thing, but for different social groups.


    8 Jul 09 at 7:25 am

  2. Okay, I’ve only been on Facebook for two weeks or so, I’m no expert. I joined because someone on RAM said a lot of the traffic that used to be on RAM was now on Facebook and that people who had dropped off the newsgroup could be found there. Like KS and Katie Munger, etc. So I joined.

    What I see is a lot of the same kind of activity that used to take place on AOL in the early days. People are playing games (word games & other sorts) together, they’re taking polls, they’re sharing pictures and short conversations. They use the features of Facebook as conversation starters.

    On AOL, say 15 years ago, wow, that’s a long time, there were less than 2 million users, and there were lots of game activities, in what were essentially “chat rooms” where up to 30 people could simultaneously post comments. Trivia games were my addiction, where the person running the game would send in a question, and then all the players had 10 seconds to answer. High score was the winner of absolutely nothing. The reward was the conversation around & between the questions, people were smart & funny, and the trivia formed a structure for the talk. Most of them were lonely and undersocialized in real life, just like I was at the time.

    In fact, that’s where I met my husband. It’ll be our 13th anniversary this year. He lived in CA, I lived in MI. We never would have met without the internet and AOL trivia games.

    Anyway, what I was see on Facebook is very similar. People may talk or email one-on-one, but the opportunity for getting other people involved in conversations is very enjoyable. If I comment on something, and other people do as well, it’s like a small, undemanding party that you can ignore until you have time.

    I’m trying not to let FB be a time-suck that will interfere with work, etc. MySpace, I have the impression it’s all teenagers using bad language and boasting about (largely) fictitious sexual activities. Not my demographic.


    8 Jul 09 at 1:13 pm

  3. I love Facebook! For me it’s a handy way to keep in touch with ex-students, RAMmers, Bouchercon friends, cousins and other friends that I don’t see very often. I do send occasional one-liners to people I see regularly in person – but I enjoy splurting out witticisms as they occur to me! As Lymaree says – it’s a party atmosphere.

    I like the cross-pollination that links my varying groups of friends on Facebook. Sometimes my see-in-person-friends join in book recommendation threads that I’d probably not expect them to be interested in. I also appreciate the ease of photo sharing.

    I don’t make very many general announcements and am very conscious that anything I say will be read by kids on my Friends List, parents of the kids that I teach and relatives who might report back to my elderly parents. I quietly ignore Friend Invitations from people I’ve never heard of. All my settings are for “Friends Only” – but being the sociable person I am, I have quite a few of them!

    However, there are many Facebook features that you have to just ignore if you want to have any time left for real life. And I don’t want to know about Twitter until I have a lot more free time than now!


    9 Jul 09 at 6:43 am

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