I had resisted the temptation of Facebook, and it hadn't seemed all that hard--or so I thought.
Then I got an e-mail from Greg Smith. And that changed everything.
Now I'm immersed (somewhat) in the Facebook culture--I even had a Facebook impostor--and I don't know what to make of it.
I had resisted the pull of Facebook for a couple of reasons. One, it seemed like it would be a major time gobbler--and hey, even we unemployed guys have to watch our schedules. Two, I just didn't "get" it. If someone is your friend, you know it, right? So what's the point of Facebook? (There I go being all practical again.)
But that began to change when I got an e-mail from Greg Smith, asking me to be his friend on Facebook. There was only one catch: I didn't know anyone named Greg Smith.
My first reaction was to blow it off. But I kept thinking: "Who in the heck is this guy?" And the only way to find out was--you guessed it--to join Facebook. (The folks behind the site must have ties to the tobacco industry. They clearly understand addiction.)
When I signed up to Facebook and checked out Greg Smith's profile, I discovered that he's an incredibly cool guy. He's a publisher. He lives in London. He's involved in several edgy sounding businesses. He's in an "open relationship." And he seems to be friends with an impressive number of certified babes.
Even Mrs. Schnauzer was intrigued.
"Look how cool this guy is," I said. "And he lives in London."
"Wow," Mrs. Schnauzer said.
"And look at all the babes he's friends with."
"Gosh, they are babes. Certified, too."
"He wants to be my friend."
"Well, what are you waiting for? Sign up. Quick!"
So now I'm on Facebook. And for a while, I even had a Facebook impostor, which was the most exciting thing to happen to me since I discovered chocolate raspberry truffle in a waffle cone at Bruster's.
After learning how cool Greg Smith is, I quickly discovered that someone else was claiming to be Roger Alan Shuler in Birmingham, Alabama. And this person was claiming to be an alumnus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), my former employer.
Well, I'm pretty sure I'm the only Roger Alan Shuler in Birmingham, and I'm not a UAB alum. (I'm a University of Missouri guy--hurray, hurrah, Mizzou, Mizzou! Bully for Old Mizzou, rah, rah, rah rah! Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah! Tigers!) So I figured someone was pulling a fast one. I suspect it was a UAB sports fan who didn't like my criticism of UAB's current administration. When you clicked on the "UAB alum" section, it said, "Roger Shuler has no friends at UAB."
Hah, hah. I got the joke. Pretty good.
I contacted Facebook about the impostor, and assuming their customer service is as dreadful as Google's, I figured it would be two or three years before the problem was solved. But a nice fellow named Brett took care of it in a matter of days. Turns out Facebook has a lot of impostor problems, so I guess they take it seriously.
Anyway, I am back to being the Elvis, the original, of Roger Alan Shulers in Birmingham. (First time I've ever been compared to Elvis; naturally, I had to do it myself.)
Once I was on Facebook, I was curious if anybody I knew was out there. If any of my friends were going to be on there, I figured it would be Doug Gillett, my old coworker from the UAB Publications Office. Doug is a "leading-edge" kind of guy and was the first blogger I ever knew.
Sure enough, Doug is a big-time Facebooker, with 450 or so friends! His friends include University of Georgia football icons Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker. And I think he has one or two supermodels among his friends. Doug's cubicle at work is a shrine to French broadcasting babe Melissa Theuriau. If he gets her to be a friend, I will truly be knocked out.
Doug's Facebook page is pretty much a Who's Who of folks I used to work with at UAB. Scrolling through it kind of made me homesick for my old job. After all, the overwhelming majority of people I worked with are great folks. Then I saw the faces of several manager types, and I wasn't quite so homesick anymore.
Now that I'm a Facebookie, I really don't know what to do with it. Friends put a lot of stuff up on my "wall," and I enjoy checking that out. I guess I'm supposed to occasionally put up a deep thought, but anything that comes close to a deep thought usually goes on my blog. As a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, my deep thoughts this time of year usually range from "Yippee, the Cardinals won" to "Dammit, the Cardinals lost."
The other issue is: How many friends should you have? For several days I had two or three friends, and that was embarrassing. My goal became to reach double figures. Once I passed 10, I thought, "Hey, 20 friends would be pretty cool."
I'm a little over 20 now, and 30 is starting to look good. (You see what I mean about addiction?)
I've decided that 50 would be a nice round number to get to. Then I'll stop trying to add friends--"I swerz," as they say on LOL Cats.
It's pretty cool the way people from all over can "find" you on Facebook. Several of my old buddies from Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri--Mark Harrell, Mark Ellis, Bill Doran--found me. (Still waiting for Kickapoo's most famous alum, Brad Pitt, to find me.) My niece, Erin Simkins Gerhardt, who lives in Detroit, Michigan, found me. I found Joe Rassenfoss, a buddy from the Birmingham Post-Herald and Mizzou, who now lives in Colorado.
Who knows what lies ahead on Facebook. But I can always say that I'm friends with Greg Smith--and his impressive band of certified babes.