GINNY KELLY: No, Mom, You Can't Be My Facebook Friend
A couple of weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. And I think my world's going to end.
I was about to embark on my evening session of Facebook-stalking. This consists of reading friends' status updates, checking out recently posted photos and catching up on the never-ending message thread among my girlfriends.
Then I signed into my Facebook account and suddenly realized that my worst fear had come true: Cackie Kelly, my mother, had requested to be my friend!
Now, that may not seem like a big deal that my mom is Facebook's newest member, but Facebook is my generation's virtual oasis. Correction: Facebook was my generation's virtual oasis.
When Facebook started during my freshman year at Appalachian State, only the largest universities had access to the site. You had to have an affiliated e-mail address to sign up. It wasn't until my sophomore year that ASU became an associated school, allowing us to join the site.
See, back then, in Facebook's early years, profiles consisted of one picture (Facebookers always choose the best picture they've ever taken, making them appear to be more attractive than they really are) and minimal personal information. It was literally a book of faces -- a who's who on college campuses. You would meet someone at the bar on Thursday night and by Sunday a friend request would be waiting on your home page. It was social networking of the new millennium.
But a lot has changed in the Facebook world over the past few years. Photo albums and public messages from friends now cover profile pages -- and we're talking inappropriate messages like "Hey, Johnny! You were so drunk on Friday. That was awesome!" Membership is now limited only to those with a name who live in a town.
Even dogs can have accounts if their techy owners create a profile for them on Dogbook. Facebook has slowly taken over cyberspace.
But most kids my age still think of Facebook in terms of its original intent: an online Little Black Book filled with memories of college glory days, holding secrets and evidence of times that should probably not be shared with the "real world." But it may be time for us to rethink this definition and come to terms with the undeniable truth.
Facebook, alas, has come out.
Facebook has become a communication tool for the masses. It is a way for my mom's high school friends to reconnect decades later. Families can share photos and give daily updates to their grandparents living hundreds of miles away.
Heck, I can tell you where all my friends live and work, where their families vacationed for Christmas and, in some cases, what they ate for dinner last night. It makes no difference that I haven't actually spoken to them in years.
I guess it should be no surprise then that the 35- to 54-year-old age group is the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. Their membership has increased by more than five million in the past six months.
It's parents and employers who are joining the mix -- and ruining what Facebook once was!
Truthfully, I feel that the young people who are the original members of Facebook, me included, have been robbed of our Web site. (My generation was born with a false sense of entitlement, so my opinion should be no surprise.)
Now, when I post a status that reads, "Out getting crazy at the bar," my best friend's mom, some colleagues, and my 40-year-old cousin who lives in Maine can all read this and other trivial details about my daily life. These people have no business knowing my drinking schedule.
It's just sketchy and has totally taken the fun out of Facebooking.
Sure, it is only a matter of time before the Facebook originals move on to the next Internet phenomenon. Twitter, maybe? (I must admit that I don't see the appeal or point in that site at all.)
But I'm not willing to give up Facebook that easily. I will simply rely on the "Deny" button.
With all due respect to my mom, my boss, old high school teachers, and anyone whose son I have dated -- no, you cannot be my Facebook friend.
Ginny Kelly is an advertising representative with The Pilot.
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