Aaaaaargh! Facebook! My brilliant former student convinced me to go on Facebook in 2009 after a lot of cajoling and pleading. She was graduating and wanted to keep in touch with me. (Can’t we just write emails? No?)
So, I did. I played a few games and found a lot of students who friended me. You know that FB has “created” odd usages of words. “Friend” is a noun, not a verb. To “unfriend” someone is not….oh well.
I actually got to the point that I was logging on to FB much more that I should have. For example, I played “Farmville” for so many hours I had five or six farms with all kinds of stuff. I would even interrupt something more important to check on my virtual crops!
“Oh! Excuse me for a minute, will ya? I need to see if my beets are ready to harvest.”
Seriously? Farmville addiction?
I quit games cold when one day at a school meeting my boss teased me about the amount of Farmville requests he was getting from me. I took the hint, and after I got home, I deleted every farm, home, fairy, flower, beet crop and anything else I was playing. I was so embarrassed. And yes, I did play “Candy Crush,” but I quit when I got a rush from solving the puzzle. That was just weird. I also quit because I couldn’t win any more levels. So you could say, Candy Crushed me.
Okay. But did I talk to anyone? Oh yes, I was collecting friends and family and students and game buddies. Sometimes, though, I thought people were posting things that were unnecessary or too personal.
Example: “I’m so excited! We are having dinner at the Seven Seasons and Stars Restaurant tonight! OMG!”
This would be posted with a GPS map of the exact location of the restaurant. What a great way to let people know you are not home. Or was the person genuinely excited? Or was there some bragging going on? Maybe a bit of all three.
Personally, I don’t need to know where everyone is, and sometimes I get tired of all the photos of babies and vacations and animals. Back in the day, we called this type of thing, “vacation slides parties,” but you could always say no or ask to visit the new baby in person. Does anyone remember cameras with rolls of film that you took to the neighborhood drug store to be developed, and how excited you were to open that packet of photos, you looked at them before you left the store? (Sigh)
I think, for some people, Facebook is a connection to the world, but it has also spawned problems. Politics and religion, for instance, and I think people post comments about issues or others they would never say in person. Need to break-up with someone? No problem. Do it on social media. It’s fast and painless…for you.
But just remember, words do hurt, just like the proverbial sticks and stones, and sometimes I would rather have the stones. Words have power, and they stay with you. So, you might want to think twice before you press “post.”
On the other hand, it is a quick and sometimes useful way to connect a group to a cause, or emergency.
Two years ago, when I was in a serious personal crisis, I logged out of FB. I didn’t want to permanently delete my account, because I knew there were many small important connections I didn’t want to lose. So, I disconnected for months. Only three people noticed and messaged me: two friends from high school, and a Facebook friend.
Despite all this back and forth thinking I’m doing here, there was one time I found someone, a friend from high school with whom I had lost contact…for years! We exchanged phone numbers and talked a few times to catch up. One afternoon, I pulled up his FB page, and the top of it was black. I scrolled down. He had suffered a major heart attack and died alone in his home. His son-in-law found him. I wrote a memorial as I cried. There was no funeral service, so I told his son-in-law how much Bill meant to me as a friend and what a kind, giving person he was. My heart turned gray with grief. Bill shouldn’t have been alone when he died. I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I wished that we had talked more than we did. Bill’s page remains on Facebook to this day
I grieved for Bill, but if it hadn’t been for Facebook, I never would have found him. I would also never have known he was gone from this earth.
Now I have mixed feelings about Facebook. Good? Bad? Somewhere in the middle?