I think I had been a member of Facebook for about half a year, just linking to my usual web-buddies when suddenly there was an avalanche in friend invites in May 2007, mostly from Norway where I grew up. I was really excited to see that it wasn’t only the web-savvy people who joined in…it was just anybody. People I knew from kindergarden, primary school, high school and university….and they were all inviting their friends. To be honest, I think it grew in to a game frenzy for many to get as many people as they could on their profile, but hey, there is actually nothing wrong with that. It depends what you want to use Facebook for. I’m just happy that people are joining in. Personally, I think it’s a huge social experiment. I keep my professional networking life to Linkedin, whereas I’m using Facebook for keeping in touch with old friends and doing informal networking. I feel that for Facebook to be the social network of my dreams it would have to contain more privacy levels regarding contacts. Danah Boyd has written about actually having to create two Facebook profiles to separate close friends from everybody else. I just think Facebook is practical in that one creates a community for oneself where they can follow your life a bit. It’s nice for me who have friends scattered in every corner of the world, who I wish I could see more often. This way it’s easier to keep in touch, especially if one is like me, who is not good with writing loooooooooong emails to a lot of people.
I have to admit it’s quite fascinating seeing who is actually linking up to each other…and also in contrast, who doesn’t link up to each other. The actualisation of people relationships like this is very revealing. If someone wants you as a contact who you really disliked in school, but you feel that you should have become a larger person growing up, should you accept their invite? I mean, sometimes it’s what’s good about life, that one moves on, away from certain social groups of people…but whoopsie…here comes Facebook and brings history right back in your face. Or what about the friend request that you sent, which gets declined…that is certainly one thing which can make you feel like a loser, or is it OK to get a confirmation that you were not so close anyway, which is kinda good to know, because then you don’t have to waste your time on that person again. It’s all fine, it’s part of life…it’s part of being a social being. I’ve found this Facebook networking process very interesting that way.
I think I’m seeing the same exponential growth in the danish Facebook community that happened in the Norweigan community some months back. Jilltxt has written about how you can figure out how many Facebook users a country has. I understand the concern about privacy that many of my friends have about signing up to Facebook, where the user agreement entitles Facebook the right to republish what you upload or send through the service. Jilltxt also writes about other privacy issues where several social network sites are collaborating on common APIs so that data from these existing social networks can be used in new sites. I don’t think people are going to like that. It remains to been seen if Facebook will get evil with time. I hope not.