Facebook has been very much a part of my life since September of last year. For the last nine months, I've made it a point to visit Facebook each day and check out everything from my friends' new pictures and status changes, to the last moves my opponents have made on Scrabulous and Chess. Every once in a while someone will acknowledge my existence on Facebook and leave me a comment they more than likely sent to their 90 other Facebook friends. Sometimes I feel really special because I got a personalized note on one of my various walls, usually after I wrote a personalized note meriting a reply.
For the most part, I behave much the same way everyone on Facebook does... I horde friends, feeling proud each time the number of friends increases, but do very little to actually socialize.
These friends, or a large majority of them are not really my friends. In fact, one of my "friends" is a stranger who poked me continuously until I added him to my list. I know very little about the guy, but he just really wanted to be my friend, apparently. I appreciate his strong liking of me, so I made it a point to write "Happy Birthday" on his wall when the day came.
You could argue that you can make actual friends on Facebook, but that would have to be something achievable by someone who makes friends with ease in real life, too. I make friends, and I keep them for years. I'd say a lifetime, but I'm a little too young to make such bold statements about the future of each of my long-term friendships. Life and circumstances change a little too much to be so sure of such a volatile part of life. But I digress... I have very few mere acquaintances. It has been this way all my life, and I don't think Facebook is gonna change this part of my DNA.
Now, I've joined Facebook out of my own accord, initiated a number of Facebook friendships, also of my own accord, and gotten in touch with people from my childhood I'm glad I got in touch with after all these years. Facebook got me in touch with a couple people from elementary school, a few from high school who I felt were real friends back then, and have proven to me today that my adolescent instincts were correct. I'm thankful to Facebook for that.
I'm also thankful to Facebook for the extension of friendship from other websites less personal. I've added several people who are acquaintances through the internet, but I'm sure if distances were shortened we'd be buddies, no question about it. I love having Facebook to bring me a little closer to these new additions in my life.
With all the good that Facebook has provided, it has also provided annoyances. I've gotten in touch with people I didn't like when I was a kid, forced to play with them, and I still don't like them now. I've had people leave dumb comments on my pictures... just look at the picture, I'm not interested in your input, or your photography expertise. I've had people completely ignore my birthday, making it more hurtful because of how easy it is to know when my birthday is. I've seen people I thought were above such behavior, behave in less than becoming ways by receiving and responding to some pretty raunchy comments and other things Facebook allows its users to distribute. I've seen the trashiness of several people surface and put me in shock, because I never would've guessed I could befriend or be acquainted with someone of that caliber.
Also, people in general just annoy me on Facebook, because again, I get annoyed with people in real life, too. On Facebook, however, it's a bit more concentrated for some reason.
There is no phenomenon of Facebook for me. Facebook is simply my real social life, translated into digital code, and much like life in general: Facebook is what you make of it, with a few more games and fun quizzes.