NO offence, but I decline your kind invitation to join Facebook.
I've been "poked'' (relax, it's Facebook speak) six times in the past fortnight - sent an email invitation to be someone's "friend'' (Facebook speak again) - and while I admit to feeling warmly wanted and kind of popular, it's just that I'm yet to see the point.
I have an email address that seems to work just fine. I also have a mobile phone.
And anyone who doesn't have access to these two vital connection portals, well it's probably for good reason.
To further throw open the lines of accessibility would surely mean having to filter unwanted and unwarranted attention and, frankly, who has the time?
I say all that, but it doesn't mean I don't fear social exclusion, cutting myself off to the movement of the times akin to not reading The Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter. (Confession: I've read neither. But then if I was on Facebook, that'd be common knowledge).
Facebook is the new going out. Who needs to step out the front door when you can see what your friends are up to, and even friends of friends, with a click.
There's no need to actually go to a party when you'll get to know everyone much better on your laptop.
No point shouting over doof-doof DJs when you can find out a man likes Thirsty Merc, works in adventure travel, roots for the Rabbitohs and you get to see him in Speedos and tux all in one hit.
You can also suss out his mates and get a handle on his exes.
Facebook isn't officially a dating network but then neither is going out. Just like going out, it's passed off as a harmless way of keeping in touch with a vast network in fast-paced times when all the while it's a covert ploy to trawl for potential loves.
Just as in a bar you may be approached by a total stranger who likes the look of your face, so with Facebook you may be "poked'' by someone who's only ever seen your carefully-selected, digitally-enhanced headshot.
The difference is, if you don't poke back, it's less offensive than being snubbed in the face.
It may have started as a niche, but Facebook is now mainstream for grown-ups. Thirty million users and, unlike MySpace, the bulk are in their 30s and beyond.
Let's not pretend it's to peruse friends' pics. It's tedious enough doing that when they're next to you on the couch, let alone by choice when the sender's none the wiser.
Facebook's about fitting in, a return to the cool gangs of our teens when we were defined by the company we kept. Facebookers brag of friend counts, revelling in rising daily tallies.
Just as I feel pressure from those inviting me to join Facebook, I'm also vaguely offended by those who haven't.
But I'm yet to be convinced that disclosing aspects of oneself (think Malcolm Turnbull in Speedos) opens you up to a whole new market rich with possibility.
It's an open invite to eavesdroppers to your conversation "walls'' ... stalking from the comfort of one's own home.
Potential suitors may "meet'' you and dump you all without ever clapping eyes on the real thing just because you read Deepak Chopra.
It's all very well to be a Facebook refuser but is it like shunning the telephone in favour of hand-written calling cards?
Worse, will it be used to explain why single people are single? Mothers will chide: "I don't know how you expect to meet anyone if you're not on Facebook. Orlando Bloom's on it, you know, and Prince Harry''.
It's enough to make you panic.
Tuesday, 31 July 2007
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