(Note: This post was originally published in Filipinas Magazine in September 2008)
What in the world is a “dynein?” I look it up. It has just scored my brother 33 points on Scrabble. According to Wikipedia, “Dynein is a motor protein (also called molecular motor or motor molecule) in cells which converts the chemical energy contained in ATP into the mechanical energy of movement.” Now, how the heck did that word get into his vocabulary?
It’s Raymond’s turn next, so I have some time to consider my next move, shuffling my tiles repeatedly hoping a 6 or 7 letter word would materialize. We are now on Day 3 of our Scrabble game, the same game, dragged on for days, perhaps because we’re not physically sitting at the same table, arranging tiny wooden letter tiles over a 16”x16” board. Rather, we’re playing online Scrabble, one of the several game applications available on Facebook.
I’m a Facebook newbie. After several invitations, I finally acquiesced in early May. My niece, Liza, was one of the first to post a comment on my “Wall.” “Careful… it sucks time away from the day,” she warned. She wasn’t kidding. Even my friend’s father, who is in his late sixties, found himself hooked on the site. While he claims he only logs on an hour at a time, three times a week, I know I’ve seen him online more often than that. “It’s the most unproductive thing one can indulge in, but I love it. Great stress reliever and makes one silly,” he chuckles.
I click over to my other favorite Facebook games, Word Scramble, to check out the leader board. Rico Saenz is still in the lead at 136 points. I rank third at 125, a point less than Tina. I’m competing against friends from the Philippines, Australia, and all across the United States, including my brother, Paolo, who now lives in Southern California. I could try another three minute round to see if I could beat my personal best, but it is now close to midnight – time to put the keyboard to rest. Right after I “throw a sheep” at Mike.
Within three days of joining, I find almost 129 family members and friends on the site. Almost one year on Friendster, another social networking site, and I haven’t even broken the double-digits on my friends’ list. I guess my buddy Cris Roces is right – more of our friends, Colegio San Agustin (CSA) alums and otherwise, are active on Facebook. Soon I’m adding old work colleagues, college partners-in-crime, former roommates, long-lost third-degree cousins, high school buddies, and new pals I randomly met while traveling abroad to my list of friends.
One of my newly added friends is Sarah Solano, a former happy hour buddy. After thirty years, she found her grade school pal, who still lives in thePhilippines, through Facebook. “It’s a great way of reconnecting with your friends all over the world!” she beams.
Because of Facebook, Michael Frauendorff found his former teammates from theMakatiFootballSchooland got to reminisce about the glory days on the forums. He fondly leafed through photos of medals, tournaments, and uniforms dating back to the late 70’s, adding this was “when coaches Tomas Lozano and Juan Cutillas were kings!”
It has now been about four months since I signed up for a Facebook account. And I have to confess, I am addicted. To make it official, I joined “I check my Facebook more than I check my E-mails,” a group created by Willie Dee inShanghai,China. Formed in April 2008, the group now boasts 518 members, from Hong Kong toLondon. Will states that “In April 2008, Facebook was estimated to have more than 70 million active users. Every member of this group believes that 80% of Facebook users check their Facebook account in a day way more than they check their email account in a week.”
Yep, sounds like me. So why do I spend so much face time on Facebook? Out of all the social networking sites I belong to, I feel I can be most like myself on this site. I don’t know about you, but I assume various alter-egos and select friends differently depending on the site.
On LinkedIn, I put on my corporate alter-ego and professional relationships dominate my network. With past colleagues, current clients, or business partners (most of whom have no idea that I don studded arm cuffs and rock out in a band on weekends), LinkedIn is my “business face” on the web. I’m much more conservative with the information I provide, highlighting only those that relate to my line of work and posting links to articles and blogs I’ve written on mortgage finance, interest rate trends, and economic updates. Did you know I’m a straight-laced Mortgage Banker and Dale Carnegie Instructor by day? I check LinkedIn about once every two weeks.
I use MySpace mostly to promote my band and personally know only about 30 percent of my “friends.” The rest are a combination of random adds (mostly of celebrities like Black Eyed Peas, Tila Tequilla, and Kendra Wilkinson) and friend requests from folks I don’t remember meeting at gigs. There is hardly any personal information about myself on MySpace so I’m more liberal in accepting friend requests. I check MySpace roughly three times a week.
On Facebook, I am just myself. Perhaps because I have a genuine relationship with most of the folks on my friends list. While I outright decline invitations from people I don’t know, I file invitations from those I barely know under a “limited profile” category, with restricted access to my photo albums and other personal information. The rest on my list see everything – status updates, wall posts, game stats, photo uploads, and blogs. I’m on Facebook twice a day – at lunch and before bedtime, sometimes more when I receive email notifications.
Melani dela Vega, one of my CSA buddies, agrees. She says that while she is on multiple online social networks, she felt that she has been able to reach out to a wider social circle through Facebook. “Through this site, I am in touch with elementary and high school classmates, family, childhood friends and even other parents from my son’s school. It seems to have less of the negative stigma that Myspace does. I surely am enjoying the virtual food fight with the moms from my son’s school,” she adds.
While nothing beats actual face time with a friend, developing and nurturing relationships through cyberspace transcends time and space. For now, I’m parking my profile on Facebook.
UPDATE: I’m now up to 1400+ friends on Facebook and have added Twitter to my social media addiction. Follow me @XtinaDunham 🙂