Facing the Music

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.

10 thoughts on “Facing the Music

  1. gameshowman

    You would be surprised. I hesitated signing up for Facebook, finally done so, and actually found it to my liking. A massive number of our community – along with some TV heavyweights to our interest – are already there, and it is in fact possible to use Facebook without turning one’s self into a complete arse.

    I highly recommend it to you, sir.

  2. chrisc1218

    Facebook is good enough. Apart from the fault of having to use your own name, which your dislike is understandable, Facebook avoids most of the problems that fester on MySpace. Plus you could always set your profile on private, which means outsiders will only see your name and whatever picture you have up for your profile.

  3. frostbight

    I’m gonna have to agree with the two previous commenters here… If you had to give into the lesser of two evils, Facebook is the way to go, it’s more mature, cleaner, and easier to navigate.

    And you won’t get siezures from looking at someone’s home page like myspace… oye…

  4. tleberle

    I’m of the “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” school. I decided to have a go, and while I have gotten a little sucked in to the status updates and the other stuff, but the whole point for me was reconnecting.

    I’ve met up with friends from junior high and elementary school. That alone would be worth the Facebook experience, and it has the added bonus of not having a page that looks like someone vomited pastels and javascript.

    If you have that much of a problem with people knowing who you are, then it’s not for you. But there are also privacy settings that you can toggle so you won’t appear in searches and things like that.

    I think it’s worth it, and wondered why you hadn’t shown up already.

  5. santiago22

    Everything said above about Facebook is true. I still don’t think it comes close to LiveJournal though.

    I think the best solution I can come up with is have Ben do the promotion via Facebook, if he is so inclined.

  6. nangbaby

    My Unsolicited Opinion

    I find myself in a similar predicament as you, as I too prefer to remain anonymous, within reason, but feeling the pressure to get in on these services before it all crashes. Although I did sign up for MySpace a long time ago, it was purely as a defensive measure, and I’ve never used it seriously. I have no use for attention-grabbing sites like that or for Facebook, which is not only predicated on promoting the “real” you instead of one’s on-line identity, but bars you from any real access unless you join it.

    I’ve never used Facebook, but MySpace is junk. Its interface is counter-intuitive, and I wonder how in the world it remained as popular as it has. That being said, as much as I like Livejournal, there have been some decisions ever since it was spun into its own company, such as how sometime last year they changed domain name registrars without warning, that make me wonder what to do next.

    Personally, I’m going to resist the Facebook pull until it becomes mandatory, because I don’t like having my off-line life intersect with my on-line life, and I don’t trust handing my “real life” information to another company with that much control for nothing but potential embarrassment in return (for example, what if one of my “friends” puts up a crazy picture? Guilt by association…). Of course, I’m also a paranoid Christmas cake hermit whom nobody likes, so my advice my be rather suspect.

    Since you are not me, and you don’t exactly take great pains to hide your name and such, I’d say go for Facebook. It’s worth the security risk for you. Besides, you’ve been on TV for goodness sakes. You’re a celebrity. You’ve forfeited your privacy to Carlton Banks. (j/k)

  7. renaissancegeek

    Personally, I’m with you on the not wanting to do facebook thing. The last thing I need is to try and manage another online presence which doesn’t really suit my internet preferences (read: text only) anyway. But LJ does seem to be losing lots of traffic to it. Ultimately, I guess, it’s up to you how much you want to put out there…

  8. jiggery_pokery

    I think it’s more historical accident than anything else that (who, in a little-known fact, actually invented online journals back in about ’94) led us onto LiveJournal rather than Blogger or elsewhere – that, and the fact that LiveJournal is actually quite good. (Not to say that Dreamwidth may not be even better.) I’m on Facebook, but I don’t use it in the way I use LJ, and I think using FB that way would be likely to be wrong for you too. If you’re sufficiently bothered by people asking you “Are you on Facebook?” then that’s probably good enough reason to get on it, alone, and just never poke anyone, throw a little green jelly at them or compare 46 Friends to guess who has the biggest ego.


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