There have been two websites that, up to now, I have vehemently refused to sign up for.
One of them is Myspace, the other is Facebook.
I’d like to think that I have good reasons to abstain from these sites. Most notably, I’ve been of the opinion that these two sites represent the ultimate dumbing down in interpersonal communications. While I can use this LJ to voice my thoughts in a format that I feel comfortable, the other sites reduce everything to sophomoric image macros and three word shout-outs, with generous helpings of idiotic textspeak like “b4” and “l8” and “bff” and all that crap.
It doesn’t help that the vast majority of Myspace pages have proven to be exercises in users throwing as much useless junk on the page at the same time, with music, videos, loud background images, rambling self-descriptions in unparagraphed text, and so on. Almost every Myspace page I’ve seen has looked like a 16-year-old girl made it.
As for Facebook, I’d really like to give an honest opinion about the site, but they engage in the rather underhanded practice of not letting you see any of its content unless you’re a member. I guess with the kind of personal information floating around in there, you wouldn’t want someone to invade everyone’s privacy without first compromising theirs, but it still strikes me as cheap, like selling someone what they think is a big-screen TV in a plain unmarked cardboard box, and being told, “trust me, the picture’s awesome.”
I also don’t like the fact that you have to provide your real name, and I imagine that you go by your real name on the site. There are people who have decried my use of a werewolf as my personal online mascot – mainly within the family – but there’s no denying the fact that it affords me a measure of anonymity. Sure, most of you know who I am, where I reside, what I do, and so on – but I do like the fact that you have to first take an interest in me as Loogaroo before you start to learn all that stuff. And of course, the flipside is true: Because of the alter-ego, I don’t have to let anyone in the real world in on my online persona if I don’t want to. Facebook lifts that veil, and while I’m not actively trying to hide anything from anyone, I do like the fact that I have some separation between life and the internet.
So why am I bringing all of this up? Well, it seems that the rest of the world is going the way of those two sites. It’s becoming harder and harder to do stuff online without being associated with them.
Case in point: I’ve recently been contemplating a tournament involving not DDR, not ITG, but Munchkin. There’s a game store in Pasadena that I think would be a great venue for it, but I don’t want to set anything up unless I know I’ll get a decent turnout (EAT 5, anyone?). I joined a Yahoo group for the game and posted to see how many fans of the game were in the area, and got a total of four responses. Not too promising. On the other hand, Ben – who does have a Facebook account – says that the site has a club devoted to the game with over 11,000 members. A pretty staggering contrast.
Of course, in order to contact any of them, I first have to sign up for the site. And that would constitute abandoning one of my most ardent pledges during my stay here on the ‘net.
So I guess the question I’m trying to ask here is: is it worth it? Is it worth selling out on my distaste for impersonal snippets of dialogue and being forced to shed my online identity for the sake of having a greater access to people with similar interests as me? Or should I hold firm, continue to spurn the Wal-Mart of the internet, and settle for the connections I already have?
One thing’s for sure: if I don’t sign up for Facebook tomorrow, I probably won’t be signing up for it for a long while.