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Culture

Face Facts

Facebook has officially floored me. Not by becoming a social networking giant that has officially amassed more active users than Spain has citizens. And not because Columbia Pictures has given the green light to a movie based on the inception of the thing. But because Facebook has lured my father away from … whatever it is my father does in his free time.

No amount of statistical data or cultural etchings could have prepared me for this. This is huge. This is Dad. Embracing technology. The same Dad who once phoned to tell me he “broke the Google.” Dad, who still struggles with the concept of text messaging. Whom I, therefore, occasionally text, “LOW BATTERY.”

So how did I know that my dad was on Facebook? Did he poke me? Did he leave an embarrassing-though-admittedly-endearing salutary message on my wall? Nope. He waited until I paid a visit to his and my mother’s home to tell me in person. Well, kinda. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Do you guys have any sodas?
Dad:
So, you’re going see Neko Case on Nov. 21?
Me: Uh huh…
Dad: That should be fun. I checked her out; she has a great voice.
Me: Uh huh.
Dad: And who’s this “Stephanie” girl?
Me: You’re on Facebook, aren’t you?

Which is fine. Facebook has a lot to offer — particularly to concerned fathers and mothers. It often fills the void left by sporadic telephonic updates on the part of the creative underclass. That’s a fancy way of saying, “Twenty-somethings like me don’t call our folks enough.” And no amount of, “I see you forgot to bring a sweater” comments on my photo albums can change how I feel about that. At least not yet.

Plotting the history of Facebook, it’s obvious we’ve come a long way. Dad’s there. So that’s big. Founder Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room in 2004 and is today the 158th richest man in America. So that’s kind of exceptional. Originally, Facebook began as a college-specific networking site. In other words, you had to be a college student attending a Facebook-sanctioned school in order to send pointless messages to your friends.I remember submitting and resubmitting my alma mater, UL Lafayette, week after week while my LSU friends preached to me about the wonders of poking. Finally, that day came. And here’s the first e-mail I sent in recognition of that:

facebookemail

Uh oh indeed. Notice how adorable I was back then. How I chose to pique my friend Megan’s interest in “The Facebook” with phrases like “up your alley” rather than “an all-encompassing obsession that will change the way we communicate and, wow, probably put Classmates.com out of business.”

My first week having a Facebook account, I received an invite to a kickball game from a complete stranger. I raised an eyebrow but clicked “Attend.” Two days later, I was playing kickball with a stranger, plus some other strangers. It was college students who actually managed to organize something that people actually attended. (If that’s not groundbreaking, I don’t know what is.) It was my first taste of Facebook as a social networking tool. Realizing this, along with my long-forgotten love of kickball, I was hooked.

This blog isn’t a sales pitch for Facebook. It’s just a reminder (to all four of you who’ve, for whatever reason, opted to skip out on Facebook) that this site has forever changed the way we communicate. And based on its evolution, it will continue to innovate. It’s created all new options for accessibility and has melded business and professional livelihoods into this amalgamation of digitized hellos and LOLs and lunch meetings.

Harnessing this power and communicating effectively through it — in an honest, upfront way — is a microcosm (regardless of its sheer, massive size) for the Web as a whole. The more accessible we all are expected to become, the more those lines between business and personal will blur. And right there, at the front lines, is my dad, asking me who that cute girl who wrote on my wall was.