Forty percent of employers say they'd consider Facebook profiles when screening potential employees, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the University of Dayton (some companies have even rescinded job offers after seeing profiles). And we've all heard the stories about high-profile firings that stemmed from bad photo decisions on MySpacethat weatherman in Roanoke, Virginia, who got canned for posting nude shots of himself stepping out of the shower, or Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, former mayor of Arlington, Oregon, who lost her job after posing in her underwear for her profile (her defense"That's my space; that's why they call it MySpace"sadly, did not fly). But to object to social-networking wonderlands on these grounds is almost too obvious, the kind of censoriousness that serves only to produce more converts. This is about more than lost productivity and cautionary career tales. What's at stake here is nothing less than the mass infantilization of our culture.
"All my friends said, 'You need to get on there!'" says Lupo. "They're like, 'You can find out what's going on with us any time you want!' I said, 'Well, then I could call you or we can meet up for dinneryou don't need to send me little messages online and poke me.' It's too time-consuming. It's like a 24-hour obsession that you have to update and take care of. Why don't I just get a puppy and take it to work with me all day?"
The conviction that you're somehow missing out if you don't buy inthat you'll be left to wander alone in some kind of pre-technological hinterlandis as misguided as the notion that your ego is tied to the testimonials left on your comment wall. There are far more dignified avenues to regression, and most of these involve actual friends. These sites are the digital equivalents of the high-school cafeteriaexcept without Rib-b-que Tuesdays. Why the hell would you want to go back?
And while Jeb admits that the little Facebook catfight that consumed two of his friends didn't cause him to delete his profile, he does approach it with a measure of disgust that might be healthy for all of us.
"It's a little ridiculous, isn't it?" he says. "I'm just sort of waiting for everyone to be over it."
Rest assured: If you resist, you will be vindicated. Like the popular kids, Facebook will end up living in a trailer just down the gravel road from Friendster.