May 6, 2008

Facebook Chat Makes Me Self-Conscious

So we're now a few weeks into Facebook's chat application and I'm definitely noticing a change in my behavior.

I'm very aware if I'm on Facebook, knowing that my friends are also aware of it. (I know that you could determine who was online before the institution of chat, it just wasn't as obvious or accessible.)

I'm very aware of who else is on Facebook, if they might want to talk to me, if they have been on there a while, if they're logging on from work.

I'm also cognizant when I click out of Facebook - was someone just about to initiate a chat session? Now that may be because my Facebook interactions are usually quick hits- 15 seconds to see if there are any new messages or notifications or friend requests, maybe a minute or two if I'm going to play Scrabulous.

I've preached before about the dangers of universalizing one's own experience, so I won't make the assumption that my neuroses are universal. But on the other hand, I'll assume I'm not the only one who's become more self-conscious about using Facebook and I'm wondering if this makes the site less useful because anything that makes you self-conscious inevitably becomes less fun. And I'm guessing the answer depends on how much FB chat is adopted. If everyone ignores it, the self-consciousness will go away. If it becomes more common, then self-consciousness increases.

Until, of course, someone invents an app that lets you use Facebook chat without actually being logged on to Facebook


Jessica said...

I definitely agree - I'm on IM and Twitter and a thousand other ways that people can find me, but I think that Facebook has the highest concentration of people that I know in real life, and don't actually talk to, which adds a strange dimension to it. I can't say that I'm logging into FB less, but I think that I am more conscious of it.


Sam Fletcher said...

I'm right there with you, especially when I'm at work. I haven't noticed any change in my FB viewing habits or time spent on the site, but when I'm signed in, I always check to see who else is on chat. It's so silly, because it's not a big deal, but for some reason, it still makes me feel a little uneasy knowing that my friends could be judging me for being "always on" FB, even if it is rarely the case.


the girl Riot said...

i was trying to get back into the virtues of Facebook. it scared me off for awhile because it was just too much for me to want to deal with. all the apps, requests, nudges, messages, wall posts, gifts, i can't even begin. and that was after it had made me uneasy with the constant update feed.

so Facebook and i had a relationship break. my partner uses Facebook almost constantly, so between that and everyone talking about it, i tried to give it another shot. Facebook chat ran me right off again. i used it once. it made me feel very self-conscious.

which, in analysis, i find interesting because GChat doesn't creep me out when i'm on email. possibly because it's my bloody email, and people i don't speak to aren't going to be trying to play 10 minute catchup about the expanse of our lives for the past 5 years--while i'm trying to do something other than chat.

if i am feeling chatty, i get on a chat client. and i'm plenty chatty. i don't really need it integrated into an already inundating medium without enough customization options. at least with GChat, i sign into it. Facebook is default.

Ryan said...

Toad, you're in luck. Check out Digsby --

Now with Facebook chat support! I haven't used this yet, but saw this sometime in the past week (maybe Lifehacker?).

Anyways, I was ultra-aware of when I logged in throughout the day with so many colleagues and clients on FB, I have to be careful when I am on. I solved this by modifying my privacy settings to not show when I am online. Simple as that.

Maia Bittner said...

For me, it's strange because my facebook friends are much more casual than the friends I IM. All of a sudden, this huge group of people I thought I was just allowing to see my profile can see when (and how much!) I'm online.

Toad said...

So I guess I'm not the only one.
Thanks so much for the comments.
I do agree that many of the people I am friends with on FB are people I don't know very well and I live in fear that one of them, one of the "now how do I know this person? Oh, right, they were the media guy on some account I worked on 7 years ago" types will start chatting with me as I'm finishing my Scrabulous move.

Mario Vellandi said...

I'm on Digsby too - it's actually really cool; I didn't connect the Twitter feature because Twhirl is good enough for me. I haven't used the Facebook chat integrationwith anyone yet. Another nice feature is video chat enabled through TokBox.

dailybiz said...

I was just thinking, as a big group of new hires at the House of Biz just friended the real me on Facebook that these people are going to be with me for as long as I have a could be ten years and multiple jobs from now and they will still be around...and with a chat feature that I can't turn off or hide from, they may want to contact me.

Some of them, esp if they had a plum job opportunity, I wouldn't mind hearing from, but others...I'm in the same boat as the rest of the commenters, I just don't want to have to deal with it.

Friend requests from people I don't really remember are bad enough.

toads sixth reader said...

Jesus toad. As if twitter and blogging weren't enough! What could you possibly have left to say???

Toad said...

@TSR - Dunno buddy. Obviously there are some people who just can't get enough of me ;)

Make the logo bigger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Make the logo bigger said...

I think a lot of people leave their chat on all day so it's really hard to get a good representation of who’s really there or not. Many of my friends don’t always put on their away messages.

FB really dropped the ball by not incorporating iChat or AOL IM into it. Feels like social sites were heading towards this thing where they worked with your existing apps and features, not reinvent them.

Last thing people need on FB is yet another function like some all-in-one printer/scanner/fax. “Hey, it does chat now!”

Not like the others it doesn’t.


Anonymous said...

Why cant you just change your privacy setting so people can't see when you're online? What's the big deal?