Posted by: cornvillenutmeg | January 8, 2015

I’m on Facebook, but…


     I am on Facebook. I wouldn’t be, probably, had the alumni office at my high school of graduation not created a Class of 1964 group page in anticipation of our 50th Reunion. Once I joined, in ways I don’t quite grasp, I began to receive friend requests mainly from former students. That was too flattering to decline, so now there I am.
      One of those students began to post about things she was cooking. Eventually I was intrigued enough to get in touch via a Facebook message. Now we occasionally correspond through regular e-mail. Recently she sent me a New Year’s greeting in an e-mail along with an update on her graduate work in food science. I responded in part by saying I was already aware of most of what she had said by virtue of having followed her Facebook postings. She responded in part by saying, Isn’t social media nifty that way? I can’t imagine how people kept in touch before the digital age…I have heard rumors about something called “handwritten letters” but I’m not sure what to make of them.
      Her comment was amusing, but also this: she’s correct in her allusion to the disappearance of letters which for myriad reasons is a real shame, but then who am I to talk? In my life, I hardly ever wrote letters unless I wanted something from someone. She is incorrect, however, in suggesting that social media has replaced letters, (unless she includes e-mail under as social media. I don’t. In fact, I see e-mail as having replaced letters for good and ill.)
      My social media experience is almost exclusively limited to Facebook. Ordinarily, I browse through recent postings, which Facebook calls “notifications” clearly because that makes posting sound as if it were passing along to me personally some intelligence my life would be the poorer for not possessing. Sometimes I “like” the post, but I’m not exactly sure why. It could be that If I’m amused or otherwise stirred, I think the poster might appreciate knowing, so I join those others who have already “liked”it. Rarely I add a comment. It could also be that I’m afraid other Facebook denizens who are friends or friends of friends will see that I didn’t “like” it. What will they think of me? That I’m clueless, a Facebook snob, humorless? Or, worse yet, that I’m no longer worthy of being a Facebook friend since I clearly don’t pay attention to my notifications! I don’t think anyone has “unfriended” me, but really, who wants to take that chance?
      I use Facebook mainly for my blog’s sake. When I post, all of my FFs get an email telling them they have notifications, or that an awful lot has been going on on Facebook that they’ve missed out on. When they catch up with their notifications, they encounter a link to my latest blog effort. I also from time to time pass along my brother John’s interesting and often remarkably amusing rants and musings.
      When I retired, a colleague whom I dearly love and hugely respect asked me if I was going to go on Facebook. She said she hoped I would because it’s a great way to keep in touch. Utterly ignorant of Facebook, I took her word for it, but not anymore. I do not count either what I post on Facebook or read there as keeping in touch. Rather I see Facebook postings as guilt free solipsism, for no matter how you may explain your motivation for posting what you do, there is plainly no way to deny that along with the content of a post is a shouted, “Look at me, look at me, look at me!” And in return, when you “like” and/or comment, you say, “I did, I did,. Did you see me look? Did you?”
      I’m not anti-Facebook really. I am often interested in what I see. I wonder, though, do we Facebookers have any idea how much more of us we put on display than we intend? When I was a young boy, in the house next door to ours, in a room directly opposite mine was a window that looked at my window. The person who lived in that room was a woman. One night she undressed, partly, in front of the window, not intentionally, really, she just happened to pause in part of the process that held my interest. She never did that again, just the same, I kept checking . Often that’s how I see Facebook, but in a non-prurient way.

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Responses

  1. Nice!

    Perky.

    >

  2. I think facebook is a very convenient way to get and keep in touch with people. I have a lot of facebook friends who I rarely or never speak to in real life– and have no real desire to. They’re friends from another part of my life, and that’s fine. It’s still nice to have reminders of them and to see what is going on in their lives. It’s also a great way to find people that I want to get back into contact with, especially if I do not have a phone number or email address.

    At the same time, facebook and other social media, like Instagram, can be very unhealthy, mostly because of the pictures. I know I’ve spent some wholly counterproductive time looking at photos of ex-boyfriends that I would not have been able to see where it not for facebook. In a similar way, people are able to create an alternate persona over the internet (exemplified in “Online” by Brad Paisley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE6iAjEv9dQ ). This not only makes the poster addicted to their internet self, but makes people who look at their facebook pages feel inadequate because they know their own life is not nearly as perfect as this one (appears to be) is.

    Anyway, those are my two cents. 🙂

  3. Jim, I love everything about this article: its wit, its wisdom, its irreverence, and its unequivocal hitting-the-nail-on-the-head. Oh, and by the way, I mailed out two missives just this past week, so letter writing is not completely dead. 😉

  4. I remember when I was in grade school and high school (@ ’70’s), visionaries predicted that we would evolve into a society that pretty much stayed at home, communed with people with computers, and had no need for actual money. These thoughts, once fantastic, are now reality.

    • Are you familiar with Phillip K. Dick’s work? He, too, saw where we were headed before most others.


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