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2007-06-12

Identity Crisis in Facebook?

Today, I experienced my first Facebook identity crisis.  I don't know how I am going to deal with it.

Background

First, I don't think I have any interest in Facebook.  I've never had any interest in LinkedIn, it is not how I socialize and it is not something I want to invest in.  Somehow, my few visits to Facebook have not been interesting for me.  And I just don't get what this "friend" thing is.  Most of all, "friend" and all of the buttons on how I might know someone, or not, just doesn't feel sociable.  It also feels weird that Facebook refers to each of my individual friends as a "they." 

Recently, I stumbled over a former acquaintance, S---, in an unexpected place on the Internet.  I dashed off an e-mail asking if this was the S--- that I knew in the mid 90's when I was a teams statistician for a leadership development program.  Sure, enough, it was S---.  We spoke on the phone, caught up, and that was pretty much the end of it.  I don't sense that anything we are doing now has much in common, but there's a possibility that we could end up meeting at a future Northern Voices weekend.  Or not.

More recently, I received a Facebook Friend invitation from S---.  That was even more surprising and unexpected.  In particular, I didn't know that I already had a Facebook account.  But I do.  I found my logon and I used it.  In my accepting the invitation from S--- I mentioned that I am not enthusiastic about Facebook and I will probably not be visiting there.  (E-mail is the way to find me.  IM is harder because I usually forget to have myself be set as available although I have a few friends in my Contacts lists on Skype and Windows Live Messenger that find me from time to time.  It's not any easier to find me in Second Life.)

It turns out that my first Facebook invitation was from Buzz Bruggeman, in February.  I may have signed myself onto to Facebook in November, 2005 as well.  I don't know why.  I might even have invited Buzz that far back.  I met Buzz through Robert Scoble and we bump into each other from time to time.  I think Scoble declined my invitation for pretty much the same reason I don't get excited about social networking sites.  Yet now my two Facebook friends are Buzz and S---.   I consider it rather unlikely that they would be friends of each other.  I also share much of Buzz's recent observations about receiving social-network friend invitations. 

As you might suspect, I have so little attention on Facebook that months go by while I completely forget about it.   I have noticed an increase in the excitement level over Facebook, with predictions that it is going viral, it is going to be bigger than MySpace, yadda yadda.  I seem to have slept through the Twitter explosion and now people are shooting off Facebook rockets.

A Crisis of Identity

Today, I received a Facebook friend invitation from Kaliya Hamlin, Identity Woman.  Oh oh, this is getting serious.  I'm honored and touched that Kaliya would invite me.  I figure it is time to pay attention and see how Facebook might fit into our mutual interest in identity topics.   I follow the link in the invitation.  It invites me to register.  Hmm, my cookie must be gone.  Oh, wait.  Kaliya used a different e-mail address for me

Hmm, all right.  I just want there to be one of me associated with S---, Buzz, Kaliya, and anyone else (say, Eric Rice, so I can keep track of the Saijo City unfolding on Second Life).  So how do I claim the other e-mail address as an address of mine?  Hmm?  Do I have to invite Kaliya after logging in with my preferred e-mail, the one that Facebook identifies with my presence there?

I log on to my existing account.  Oh great, the "news" consists of reports on who S--- and Buzz have most-recently added as their friends.  I guess that is harmless and maybe I'll notice a mutual acquaintance this way.  Oh, I can say also say I am "at home" although the choices for my "status" are rather limited.  I must remember to say when my status becomes "sleeping" (even if it will actually be reading in bed).

So what I've done is invited Kaliya, with a little explanation of the mix-up about the orcmid@ e-mail address not being what I use here.  If only we could have used our OpenIds.  Heh.

I also checked my friends list (there are still but the two) and notice that it doesn't say how I know them.  I am sure I completed that for S--.  OK, I'll fill in that information one more time.

Then maybe I'll look around and see if I can  figure out what the appeal of this place is.

[update: 2006-06-19T21:21Z Nick O'Neill poses another Identity Crisis of Facebook.  Also, as you can see in my recent posts (and on my Facebook Profile if you are registered there), I have definitely jumped into the deep end of the pool.]

 
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