An Open Facebook

By: Gay.com
1.15.2009

My Facebook “friends” know me
in vastly disparate ways. The roster includes best buddies, fuck buddies,
colleagues I’ve never socialized with outside of the office, the woman who was
my junior-prom date 21 years ago (and who only very recently got in touch with me
again -- through Facebook, of course), my siblings, and people I know only through
online gaming.

That is, these people used to know me in vastly different ways -- but thanks to
Facebook, the distinctions are blurring.

Like all of us, I present numerous
personae: the “me” who shows up to work every Monday in a corporate cube farm
is very different from the “me” who shows up for a booty call on a Saturday
night, the sibling “me,” the best-friend “me,” and so on. But now, thanks to
Facebook and its revolutionary News Feed, my coworkers, my booty callers, my
birth family, and my chosen family can all know that my favorite movie is
“Cabaret” and that I really enjoyed the brie-and-tomato sandwich I had for
lunch today. (Also, I haven’t activated any of Facebook’s privacy restrictions,
so all of my friends have access to photos of me in high-school and me in a swimsuit.)

Facebook has totally changed
the way I socialize, online and off.

For a somewhat shy person
like me, Facebook’s get-to-know-me-if-you-want options are a real boon. And I’m
getting to know my friends (and siblings and colleagues) in new ways that
surely enhance our relationships. Each friend’s new Facebook update, no matter
how banal, adds to my understanding of him or her. Knowing that a friendly
colleague is obsessed with cars and has a new kitten certainly helps me relate
to her better. And when I bump into acquaintances out and about, I already know
that they’ve recently returned from Palm Springs or recently remodeled their basement, so our
face-to-face interaction is much more meaningful. Without Facebook, I might
never have found out how amazing some of my high-school friends turned out to
be -- let alone played Scrabble with them.

Of course, most of my
Facebook friends’ posts and profiles are pretty innocuous -- no one seems to be
posting anything that would prevent them from future employment in their
respective fields. So Facebook’s transparency enforces a sort of socializing
honesty that’s truly refreshing: I think that, for many LGBT people (who are,
sadly, frequently accustomed to hiding facets of themselves), this way of
socializing -- of presenting the same face to everyone -- can be amazingly
liberating. And for our nascent allies, Facebook is a fantastic way for them to
get to know us on multiple levels, and knowing us is the first step toward
fully supporting our equal rights.

I resisted joining Facebook
for a long time -- I just didn’t see the point. And everyone agrees that it can
be something of a time suck -- Facebook taps into our inner voyeurs and
exhibitionists, and it can be mildly addictive for that reason. Still, I think
it’s worthwhile. I’ve never felt more connected to my friends, or felt so
surrounded by a wide circle of people who care about me. (But for once and for
all, no, I’m still not interested in your Lil Green
Patch.)

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