RSS and Facebook: The aftermath and other observations

As mentioned a few days ago, I found the RSS feeds for my Facebook friends and subscribed to them in Google Reader. Since I want to keep in touch with my Facebook friends outside of Facebook, I posted a status announcing the RSS move and asking about their Internet homes.

The only people who responded were those whose online whereabouts I already knew. No one else bothered, not those I went to high school with (not that I expected them to anyway), nor my college friends (some of whom think being on Facebook counts as being web savvy). What does this say about me? Despite not promoting my Facebook profile all over the Internet, I do tend to add people I know primarily online and have interacted with significantly on Facebook, though I don’t add people willy-nilly; on Facebook I at least try to find out who they are, if only because the account is attached to my real name (though it’s not hard to figure out thanks to Friend Finder).

There were a few bumps in the road in the beginning, namely the fact that Facebook’s RSS feed doesn’t update as often as other feeds do. This is only noticeable because I’ll receive about thirty status updates at once to read. This is probably for the best because no one needs that much information at once, and I can read Facebook statuses quickly.

Speaking of Facebook statuses, I’ve actually been reading them. Now that I’m reading the RSS feed and not the home page, the experience is much like Twitter now that the statuses are no longer competing with Mafia Wars, Farmville, and Five Things You Can’t Live Without. I’ve even been commenting on them more often than when reading from the home page, a great way to convince people that in fact I’m not dead (yet).

What does this say about how I interact with people online? Obviously there are people I’m friends with wherever we can be friends: Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal, NaNoWriMo, the list goes on. This isn’t the case with most people, and I don’t interact with most of my Facebook friends at all, in particular the people from high school. I’m much more likely to interact with people from college and people I know from other online media. My birthday was two weeks ago, and the writing on the wall points toward this fact: Of the people who wrote on my wall or sent me messages to wish me happy birthday through Facebook, only three were from high school. Even more were people I know through other sites (and some of them duplicated their efforts, and I received more birthday wishes from people through other sites), and even more are from people I know through college.

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t make it easy to tell how many people I know from high school, college, and everywhere else, so I can’t say whether these numbers are expected. The easy way would be to tell how many people are in a given list, but Facebook doesn’t offer this option. It should.

Even if these numbers are expected, I know exactly what they’re telling me: Internet friendship from people you never interacted with in the first place is meaningless. Exactly what everyone knew all along. Some things never change.

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