One big reason I like to write is because it helps me make sense of my life. It clarifies the confusing. It organizes the chaos. It calms the storm. I don’t see many black and whites; I see the greys everywhere I go, and writing helps me put the greys in place.
This blog is for me to do just that, and today, it’s about Facebook. It may be something you’ve seen, better, elsewhere, and you may not want to read on, and that’s ok by me. Maybe you haven’t, and you’ll want to get in the discussion and comment. That’s ok by me, too.
Let me start by reminding myself that Facebook helped the Egyptian people organize to overthrow their dictator. That’s an incredible accomplishment for a website. I doubt Zuckerberg saw that one coming. Then again, he’s so damn smart, maybe he did. I had an ex-boyfriend apologize for being an ass in the early 90’s, all through Facebook. That would never have happened otherwise, and it was surprisingly awesome. It’s no Egypt, but cool nonetheless.
Facebook is a strange beast. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I really loved it at first when I was finding old high school friends; I hated it when I found people I didn’t want to find. I loved it when I could easily communicate with family and friends; I hated it when I got friend requests from people I didn’t even know. I loved it when I could share pictures of my children; I hated it when people preached their religious or political beliefs at me.
I’m addicted to it now. I’ve tried to quit, and can’t. I have to know what you are all up to. I want to know what trips you’ve gone on, how your bronchitis is doing, what funny Jimmy Fallon YouTube video you saw, and I want to tell you my random thoughts that I would mostly otherwise keep in my head.
I like Twitter, now, too; I finally figured out that I can use it as a news source. I also love trying to fit a thought into 140 characters; I even try to see if I can make it exactly 140 characters. I know, I’m the biggest nerd ever.
But Facebook is my drug of choice. Twitter is still pretty impersonal to me. Facebook is where I interact with people, share personal information, and put myself out there.
So what happens when someone friends you who you don’t really know all that well yet? In the Real World, it takes time for you to gradually get to know someone. On Facebook, it takes a few seconds. It’s all there for you to read, to find out right away: their marital status, their children, their alma mater, their high school, their hometown, their religious and political affiliations, their favorite books and movies. Boom–all there in black and white.
And if you’re not old and married like me, you have to navigate the single life on Facebook.
I wonder if Facebook is a good thing or a bad thing. For our ability to relate to one another. If you find out right away that someone is a member of a satanic cult, maybe you’ll be glad to know early on to avoid that future miserable, awkward dinner together. But maybe you thought you didn’t like Libertarians, until you got to know this great guy at work who later turned out to be one and it changed your opinion. On Facebook, you might never have given him a chance after reading his profile.
Should we know everything about someone right out of the gate? Or should we take it slow? Does Facebook help us save time in getting to know our friends? Or does it rob us of the other important qualities in our makeup, or an air of mystery, or of ambiguity? Does it strip us down to the bare facts and keep us from seeing the greys?