Having been online before web browsers existed I'm proud to say that I'm a cyber geriatric and love nothing more than the incredible amount of innovation on offer via the internet.
This said, the one online craze I don't get is social networking, particularly Facebook. I don't have, nor do I want to have a Facebook page.
Unless you've been living in a cave or are one of the two people left on earth without an internet connection, chances are you've already heard of Facebook and odds are that you're already got a profile.
As tempted as I am to yell "suckers!", I really do understand. The sheer amount of pressure to get on Facebook is bigger than huge, especially with everybody, their cat, dog and their goldfish already having a signed up.
There are many reasons for setting up a Facebook profile. One of the most common in New Zealand is driven off the tradition of the great OE, which has seen Facebook becoming the de-facto means for staying in touch.
An unfortunate side-effect of this is incredibly annoying peer-pressure to join up. Being a Facebook luddite, I find incredulous explanations of "You don't have a Facebook page?" or "How on earth do you stay in touch?" not only tiresome, but just wrong.
What's wrong with actually opening ones mouth and engaging in real conversation, or at the very least, conversing via email? Why should I need a Facebook profile to do something as simple as stay in touch? The answer is I haven't and I don't. The world hasn't stopped spinning for me and I'm doing just fine without Facebook.
Another reason many sign up with Facebook is to get in touch with people from their past. If I wanted to stay in touch with people from way back when, I'd never have lost touch with them in the first place.
That said, If there are people from my past I want to make contact with, I'll pick up the phone, type an email or even (god forbid!) actually meet up with them for real rather than posting vapid comments on their Facebook wall.
Perhaps the biggest reason Facebook has gained such a huge following, however, is keeping or making "friends".
Boasting rights about who has the most friends on Facebook is endemic, and yet is precisely what is so horribly wrong with it. Ask yourself this simple question – on your Facebook "friends list", how many people can honestly say you'd want to actually meet up with for a drink? And that's the very heart of what disturbs me most about Facebook - It's cheapened the whole concept of friendship.
Devaluing friendship aside, Facebook also encourages an unhealthy culture of voyeurism and laziness. Sitting in a restaurant recently I overheard a table of Gen Y's talking about what a great night they were having.
Several chirped up to say "we should like totally Facebook this!". Thankfully sanity prevailed as one sensible soul said "how about we experience it for real?". Lets face it, with social networking megasites like Facebook, there's no point asking people how their big night out was - if you need to ask, you've probably been far too lazy to read about it on their Facebook page. Do I really need to explain why that's just plain wrong?
Then there's the sheer volume of bizarre and usually annoying requests Facebook users get every single day. A quick check of the Facebook profiles of several friends and colleagues reveals just how annoying this gets.
One had a request that read "A zombie has bitten you, do you want to bite back?" – uh no thanks. Another had "Land rights for gay sperm whales!" (actually I'm just kidding about that one, but it does give you a feel for the sheer inanity of these stupid requests) and on and on it went.
Whilst these really annoying and totally dumb requests can be turned off, they exemplify just how annoying Facebook can really be. Facebook application creators may argue that being able to send these requests is fun, but the sad truth is that getting an inane request for something you really don't give a flying fart about every 10 minutes of every day simply won't make you feel special or liked.
So I propose that we resurrect the art of real conversation and friendship and declare next Wednesday a Facebook free day. Who knows what could happen? I'd be willing to wager however that the world might just be a better place.