Saturday, February 5, 2011

Facebook, Food, and Friends

I'm very new to Facebook, having finally signed up for it just after Christmas. I have a small friends list and am still figuring out how it all works. There are a few things that I've learned about Facebook in the short time that I have been on it.

If you want to get lots of comments from your Facebook friends, post photos of whatever you're eating. I never understood the whole phenemenon of photographing your meals and posting them for all to see. When I'm eating a meal, I want to live in the moment and enjoy it. My first thought isn't, "I must photograph these chicken fajitas so I can post them on my Facebook page when I get home." I guess Facebook photo ops of your food are the Kodak moments of this millenium. To be fair, people generally post positive comments about food photos that a friend posts, or they'll ask about the restaurant that the meal came from. If I think that a certain meal looks like a greasy, nasty-looking calorie bomb, I don't say anything at all. Most other people seem to be the same. If I find a good recipe, I'll share it. But you won't find me photographing my meals.

The other thing about food and Facebook is that people like to post when and where they went out to eat. A typical post would be, "Went to Belly Buster Burgers for lunch." Again, when I go out to eat, I want to be in the moment enjoying myself with my family or friends. I don't think about rushing home to post on Facebook that I had Gulaschsuppe or Wiener Schnitzel mit Pommes at one of the local eateries. If I went somewhere and had a truly outstanding meal, that would be one thing. But it seems like every time someone goes out for a meal, he must post about it on Facebook. Appreciation for the excellent seems to be lost when every mundane restaurant experience is elevated to grand status. To me it's like writing about my training runs. If I wrote about every training run that I did, the non-runners (and runners too) who read this blog would be bored to tears. The only training runs that I write about are those that stand out because they were either excellent or horrible. Average training runs just aren't worth writing about. I believe that the same thing should apply to restaurant meals. Judging from what I read on my friends' Facebook pages, I'm evidently in the minority when it comes to food and restaurant meals.

There are two types of people on Facebook: friend collectors and people who are very selective about their friends. I fall into the latter category. I only friend people that I know. There are only two people on my friends list who I've never met in person, but I "know" one through a mutual friend and the other through a long-time acquaintance on an online forum. But there are others on Facebook who have hundreds, and even thousands, of friends. They'll accept anyone who sends a friend request. If the person requesting friendship says, "I met you at Joe Shemanski's party in 1982; don't you remember me?" he gets accepted.

A lot of people on Facebook are also game players and post the latest scores or promotions in games that they're playing. I must admit that some of the games on Facebook looked interesting. But in order to play them, you must let Facebook share your personal information. The people at Facebook don't have the need to know my information, so I won't be playing their games. There are plenty of online game sites that I visit regularly (e.g. Sporcle) that don't require users to provide personal information. I'll stick with those.

Despite this cynical-sounding post about Facebook, so far I've had a positive experience with it. I've reconnected with old friends, some of whom I lost track of in the '80s. It has also been nice to get back in touch with friends who left Germany and went back to the States. Facebook has also been a good way to communicate with my brother and cousins. The benefit of staying in touch with friends and relatives outweighs the food photos.

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