Facebook in Japan and Me

Oct 12,2011

I'm supposed to do at least one a week, and the well of topics has felt rather dessicated of late. So I punched Google, and this is what came up:


So, I thought, why not start at the top. (I can't guarantee that I'll use all of the topics on the list--just a glance at the top few reveals some difficulties, such as my not really knowing exactly what Flickr is--but I'll try to hit the ones I can over the next few entries, at least until writer's block clears up.)

Here it goes.

Facebook started gaining popularity in Japan a few years ago, at a time when I was still using mixi, the Japanese version of MySpace. When it came up in conversation that that's all I used, I was often sarcastically called 'Nihonjin' by the Nihonjin present.

I avoided all social networking sites for the longest time, since they seem programmed to glean more information about you than you probably want them to have, but I got on Facebook against my better judgment just a couple of years ago when I found out everyone else was using it. At least everyone I knew. But then I knew very few people. At any rate, it soon occured to me after reconnecting with more and more individuals I'd forgotten as far back as primary school, that Facebook is a terrific way to reunite with a past you thought was truly and completely past until it came back to bite you in the posterior.

There is talk of revamping the whole Facebook platform this month, though the untimely demise of Steve Jobs might possibly have sent ripples throughout the Internet and its workings. Who knows. It seems serious, and what they are rumoured to be set to do is make Facebook an even bigger threat to your privacy than it already was. I was actually looking for an excuse to resign anyway.

Now that I have established permanent contact with long-lost high school friends, cousins I never knew I had, and acquiantances scattered about the globe, I feel it's becoming time to consider covering what amounts to a bit of exposed bone, and making my life less public. There is enough to keep track of as it is.

I predict, however, that Facebook will become the epoxy of social interaction in Japan that it is in the English-speaking world. Already it's a standard means of coordinating events among university students--I occasionally get friend requests from my own students, which is unsettling and embarrassing--and now that more and more people own iPhones, they can use it anytime and anywhere. Free beer and skittles for the workers, and a two-month paid holiday followed by an invasion from the French.

That being said, it has multiple positive and productive applications, and makes life easier for a lot of folks. As does the aforementioned Flickr, probably, and this thing called Twitter that I only vaguely understand and that interests me about as much as television, which is to say not at all.

So it's probably time to push for a resurgence flesh-and-blood human interaction, including conversation with people we know and handwritten letters to those we know well. This and loud, cheery board games with groups of friends seems to me to win hands down against any sport played on the Wii or monosyllabic text-messaging.

But what do I know?

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