Social Networking - Shall we dance? Or not? Help!

Facebook. MySpace. Twitter.

Do these words stir up feelings of frustration? Elation? Or, perhaps, if you’re like me, confusion?

I was almost going to say, “if you’re a person of a certain age,” but I’m pretty sure that Facebook confusion isn’t age specific. (don’tyou love how baby boomers say “of a certain age” -it’s just like us to keep warding off the inevitable — words like mid-life, middle aged, or dare I say it, old)

I not only use Facebook, I advocate its use to authors and clients. If I’m confused, how can I do that? Easily. As a subscriber to the “no publicity is bad publicity” school of thought, exposure on Facebook (of the right kind) can’t hurt.

Or can it?

A few of my authors at HCI (Health Communications,Inc.) are on Facebook and seemingly in constructive ways. Probably the best Facebook-er is Jess McCann, the young, successful dating guru, who posts mostly items that connect people to either her blog, herwebsite or directly to her book. She’s built up an impressive “friends” list and seems to manipulate the systemtoward a good, professional end. I’ll have to ask her how Facebook is payingoff for her and let you know.

When I post notices to my meager list of friends tohead over to my blog, I find little reaction.  Probably my biggest problemis that I am very leery of adding strangers to my friends list. I’m sure thatis counter-intuitive but at this point, my uncertainty prevents me from making it a free for all. In fact, when someone I don’t know invites me to be their friend, I almost always send a suspicious, but kind, note back asking either if I already know them or how they came upon me. Finally, one guy wrote back, thisis a networking site (postscript:“you idiot!”) ,your friends are in your phone book.

I accepted his invitation out of intimidation. I’mpretty sure he’s harmless.

I do know that Facebook is yet another deep internet well where one can easily drown. It’s an energy vampire that can keep you from more important life matters. As far as I can tell, it’sa place where people say a lot of stupid stuff in between some poignantannouncements. Do I really care that you’re up early, stretching and drinking coffee? That you’re off to a meeting?

Are we all really that starved for attention?

And, the causes. The gifts. The virtual flowers.What is that all about? Is anyone being helped by this? If it’s so, please someone tell me. I can only hope that all this computer screen time is constructive.

Facebook is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a brilliant device that has me at once baffled and intrigued. I especially like the possibility of renewing relationships with people we lost from our past. That’s nice. Even, at times, heartwarming.

I really and truly want to understand this social networking world.

If anyone out there is as confused as I am, or  better yet, if you feel like you have a good grip on this brave new world of social networking, can you give me some clues? How is it working, or notworking for you? Some words of wisdom?

Just think, you’ll  get some free publicity.

And, you can be my friend.

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