In response to my saying yesterday that I'd had enough of Facebook, between the steadily mounting stream of spam "invitations"/announcements and the "scale" awkwardness of combining family/real-world friends with more casual acquaintances, this note from a reader:

"I have come almost full circle in my own views.  I first joined over a year ago and promptly quit because of 'too much information,' partly as a result of letting Facebook use my email list to invite 'friends,' and because it seemed like such a sloppy, lazy substitute for keeping up with people by email.  Many of the people I most want to stay in touch with aren't on it, and I especially hated having mandatory ads show up on my page.

"But I've recently rejoined, and have come to see it as a useful accessory rather than a substitute for virtual socializing.  I'm more selective now, and am comfortable with it as a gratifying reminder of my own history.  It now includes people I was (and am) very fond of, but whom it wouldn't make any sense for me to be emailing - we've reasserted our goodwill towards each other; I am glad to know tidbits of their present lives, some of which I pursue independently, and to occasionally hail each other over some entry.  It's a cushion against loneliness, and against investing too much in some particular, immediate relationship.  It makes me feel part of a carefully crafted whole, sustainable since its give-and-take is very lightweight.  Its usefulness is just different from other approaches to socializing, in an unexpected but pleasant way - like an interactive, ever-updated scrapbook.  But all its advantages do depend on being consistently selective about who's invited or approved, rather than on increasing the number of friends."
This approach has some appeal. It's like the rare chance in life to start over and apply the lessons you learned the hard way the first time through. A related plan would be to sign up in two incarnations -- a personal one, for "real" friends, and a professional one, for the world at large. I'll add this to the to-do list.

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