Monday, July 01, 2013

Me & Facebook - Part I: My Reluctant Beginning

The picture above is real. The names and picture have been changed to protect the innocent. Namely, me.

When I joined Facebook in 2005 many of my friends had long been on Facebook. In fact, one of my first wall posts I received was the one above. Pointing out this sense that I was "late to the party."

I felt this way - and I didn't really understand what Facebook was. I teased my then fiancee and her roommates (who were still in college) about their Facebook stalking and there excitement at finding people they new to be their friend.

I wasn't that intrigued, but decided to join the party sometime during the fall of 2005. I was out of college, and at that time you could only create a Facebook account if your college was one that was recognized and you had an e-mail address ending with a college extension. Even though I was out of college our school provided alumni e-mail addresses and I used this to create a Facebook page.

I wondered if I was irrelevant having a Facebook but account but not being in college, I even started a Facebook group called something-like "I'm So Uncool I Didn't Join Facebook Until I Was Out of College."

At that time, Facebook was a little different so creating a "group" was like "tagging" something to your profile, and others joined my group (mostly at my invitation) but it really didn't mean anything or add an value to the Facebook experience.

So this was my beginning. At the time of starting up the account it seemed like a race to see how many people you could be friends with, see who might be connected to who, and beyond that the experience for me was kind of flat.

It was 2005 and to me Facebook was very much a college thing, and in some ways I had the feeling that it wasn't for me. Facebook had started by Mark Zuckerberg in in February 2004 and by fall 2005 it seemed like a thing of the past to me, and perhaps to others as well (by evidence of the initial comment I received).

Eight years after I joined, Facebook has changed dramatically. Facebook didn't reach it's first 100 million users until August of 2008, 500 million in 2010, and it topped a billion in fall 2012. So in many ways I was in the early group of Facebook users.

I joked about joining after college, but now Facebook is open up to 13 year-olds and up (although there are estimated to be a millions under the age of 13 with accounts), and there are many many people who are well past college age on Facebook.

Facebook has become a part of our culture. Not only have they made an Oscar nominated film about Facebook (The Social Network), it also is a publicly traded stock, it makes the news regularly, and companies frequently attempt to advertise and contact to people through the site.

I was reluctant to start using Facebook, I had avoided some other social networking sites at the time I joined Facebook, namely sites like Xanga weblogs and Myspace. Although I did use AOL instant messenger regularly in years previously, and it seemed like the connection I had with others via AOL was be supplanted  with Facebook. So perhaps, post-college wanting to connect I bit the bullet.

Yet, now eight years since I became a member, not only has Facebook changed, but I have as well. Recently, I've been wondering what place Facebook has in my life, and so I am beginning this series called me and Facebook, sharing and working through some of the thoughts I've had recently about the Facebook social networking experience.

Enjoy and feel free to share your own thoughts as well.

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