The phrase, “Facebook me”, dominated collegiate vernacular in the late 2000s, changing social standards forever (or for as long as Facebook will exist – I’m not predicting a doomsday for the social juggernaut. Take it easy, Team Zuckerberg). I would be wasting everyone's time by detailing the uses of the website and its influences on today's culture. My goal here today: Citing the awkward. Citing the various shortcuts we take, which lead to the awkward.
As an eight-year veteran (2004 - 2011), with four All-Star appearances (2005-2007, 2010), and one MVP runner-up (2005), I, the recently retired Facebook player (December 2011), enjoyed the different social nuances the website provided. I understood the game and played it well. And boy, was it awkward.
Almost too obviously to mention: Dating. You could almost make the argument that Facebook was a free Match.com. With loose privacy settings at its inception, due to unforeseen circumstances of stalking, creeping and other related nutjob activity, men and women in the Facebook universe had the opportunity to send messages to random human beings and add "friendships" at the click of a mouse - all based on an attractive picture. Guilty of said stalking activity at times, I would send off a message and wonder, "What if she doesn't respond? What if I see her in public and she notices me? Will she laugh with her friends if they are around? If she is alone, do I have an opening? Oh, God!" During the 2005 MVP race, I was friended by a gal (who shall remained nameless) after a brief meeting at a summer party. I accepted her invitation and checked out her profile. Noticing she had an AIM identity listed, I decided, "Why not say 'Hi'?" Subsequently there was a conversation on AIM (Awkward - how do you explain those chain of decisions? Luckily, she acted equally as awkward.), a date, a whirlwind romance for several years that resulted in jealousy, hatred, reconciliation, more hatred, unresolved issues, a spiral of emotions leading us to the conclusion: well, this isn't going to work. We attempted the ole' college try of a long distance relationship (she was in Indiana for school, I in Chicago) and depended on Facebook pictures and posts for experiencing her college life with a computer screen. That was fun because guys were in the picture, but far enough away. There was a girlfriend separating the two. As the pictures progressed, as did their proximity. Closer. Closer. Oh, great. They are kissing. Showing up early to surprise your girlfriend at school is a fun experiment - she met someone. On to the next girl I find attractive on Facebook.
What about friending people? If you meet a potential friend, are you allowed to look up this person and add him as a friend the day after? Is there a grace period? Is it possible to come on too strong and freak him out? Hey, I don't know. I don't have that answer. But it certainly gets awkward. "Oh, great to be your Facebook friend! But, are we friends in real life?" What an excellent question we've asked internally time and time again. Before Facebook, no one created of list of friends. You don't pull out a pad of paper and ask, "Alright, I have my list out. I'll just pencil you in as friend and we'll enjoy each others' lives." Referring to my inaugural post, the definition of 'awkward' is "lacking of skill or dexterity; clumsy." This applies. We are quite clumsy in our daily Facebook activity - wondering if every action is met with the same acceptance our little brain determines before clicking away on our mouse or making pointless comments.
What about defriending people? In the summer before my retirement, I defriended an old high school friend. We attended separate colleges and never enjoyed the pleasure of our respective companies post high-school. That's okay. That's life. Life, however, didn't account for Facebook. He lived in Chicago, but our paths never crossed. We were friends on Facebook, and short of a News Feed announcement of his latest bowel movement or vacation, I knew nothing of his life. So, I defriended him. About two days later, I'm walking on the beach with friends and this jogger is huffing and puffing in our direction. The face was familiar, adding a couple years since I last saw it. Sure enough, my high school "friend" caught my eye and stopped jogging. "Oh, hey Dave." He looked sad. Perhaps like he lost a friend. Needless to say, I didn't acknowledge the defriending in our brief chit chat, but he knew, didn't he? We tally our Facebook friend numbers like our bank accounts - since it is sooo important. Our social lives depend on it.
And with an eight-year career and several Trophies of Awkward, I sit at home, alone on the interweb, wondering what the countless socialites are doing on Facebook. What am I going to do with myself? Oh wait, I'm going to call my actual friends up and plan things. As for pictures, I use my brain to remember things or print pictures out. There is a litany of other awkward moments we experience on Facebook, but why bother covering them all? I'm sure if you reflect on your Facebook career you realize all the silly things you do, when you feel like you lacked skill or dexterity. I'm also sure if you reflect you can think about all the good Facebook has done for you life. All the time you spent updating your social life and ensuring a better future.
Did I just call you out? Awkward.