Sunday, November 18, 2007


Last year when the girls got into MySpace I reluctantly set up my own account, just so I could keep an eye on them. I'm glad I did. Although they've stayed out of trouble there, I occasionally read a frightening story like this one -- about a girl their age who was so harassed online by the parents of a friend that she ended up killing herself -- that makes me thankful I have a way to supervise.

Anyway, I had managed to avoid Facebook, the so-called grown-up version of MySpace. It's a "social networking" site where people stay in touch with old classmates and colleagues and establish groups of friends with common interests. E-mail is so last century, or so goes the pitch. Then this summer Franny said she had a Facebook account, so I dutifully went online and signed up. Not many of her friends were there so she stopped using the service, and I did too.

But last week I was trolling around the Internet and ran across this very interesting story on Slate by Emily Yoffe, a 50-something writer who decided to stop fighting the Facebook tide and go see what the big attraction was. Her story was so compelling that I signed back on and looked around.

There, I was surprised to find, a bunch of people from the P-I and an old friend from the LA Times had requested to "friend" me. Even more surprising, there was Michelle with a fully developed profile, tons of online friends and little networks of fellow Internet news nerds. An entire ecosystem had taken hold all around me while I wasn't looking.

My first instinct was to run away. I'm not a joiner, for one thing, never have been. And while I like plenty of my potential Facebook "friends" just fine in short bursts in person, I really don't care to be updated with the news that Jen is now single and Candace is now a fan of "The Office." Who cares. Plus what about my own privacy? I don't want to live my stupid life online, with everyone I've ever known one click away from monitoring my likes and dislikes, my moods and "relationships."

But then, I thought, what's this blog anyway? Kinda the same thing. So I clicked around -- on purely a sociological mission, I told myself -- and next thing I new I was friending people, listing favorite movies and compiling a little list of books I might read next. Michelle even found a Facebook poker applet and invited me to join her there (she's already achieved the official status of "Facebook Poker Pro").

Like so much about the Internet, it can be addictive. I see how they make their money. The Los Angeles Times just today has an interesting story about the business model; less than four years ago Facebook was being run out of some kid's dorm room; now it has 54 million users and is valued at something like $15 billion.

I don't know. The last thing I need is another online distraction. I still think it's dumb. And it could steal time from M&M. But it did confirm that Michelle and I are "soul mates," at least where our taste in movies is concerned.

I may be checking in there from time to time.

Here are our stupid profiles:



mich said...

I can't believe it, but I just got inspired enough to join Facebook and MySpace. I've toyed with the idea for a long time. We'll see how long before I regret it.

Mark said...

we're all hopeless dorks.

kateco said...

Tom Hanks is on Oprah right now talking about his MySpace page

Mark said...

see comment #2.

freda said...

well, you got me so curious that I went on, (to facebook) as you know. Michelle sent me the movie compatibility test, which I started, but then had to leave to go to play tennis. Now it won't let me back to finish it so has assumed I don't like your movies I guess, most annoying, because I want to finish but it won't give me the option. agh

Val said...

Mark, if you were ambivalent about it, consider what they got you to do, without even asking you to: by pointing us to your profile, you brought them new customers. We must create an account to see the profile, and so without Facebook asking, they got a new user. Nice.

Mark said...

Val, I know. They're wicked geniuses.

I didn't really mean to be their recruiter. Jeez, I oughta get some free Facebucks or something.