Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Facebook is Crackish

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...i.e., What I Imagine It Would Be Like to Be Crack-Addicted

Before I was active in Facebook, I had a nice thing going with this blog -- socializing one-way with an average of ~20 mystery-people every time I posted, since most of my blog-entries didn't provoke comments, and since at most, the site-meter told me only from which city they were visiting.

Something about that captured my imagination, and still does, and by contrast, I feel I've become dumbed down a bit by much as I am drawn to it. I have more than 350 Facebook friends, and they've become like Wacky Pack cards to me instead of the 3-D people I know in real-life. This comes from someone who aspires to enact Martin Buber's I-Thou, rather than I-It philosophy with people, and not to objectify them. When they are searchable names in Facebook, or LinkedIn, or any other social network, I must admit that they are objects to collect as much as they are people I care about in real-life.

How I Realized My Facebook Addiction

The Crack thought came to me last weekend, when I checked my Columbia Univ. e-mail in-box and was deeply disappointed to see that I had not even received an automated note from Facebook, e.g., the bogus ones on how " of your friends thinks you're a hottie," let alone real e-mail from any of my Facebook friends, or an opportunity to join an appealing cyberspace-based group or cause.

A relative and I talked about it, too, and she agreed that Facebook keeps pulling her back.

This morning, I had intended to wake up and blog about my back-to-back experience of "Quantum of Solace" and "Milk." And I hope I still will, but first, I told myself, I just wanted to spend "a moment" in Facebook, to warm up -- and knew I was fooling myself. The analogy is that it's like spending time, watching TV as a stimulus for writing -- not so stimulating in reality, but rather tranquilizing.

Perhaps I've hit a Facebook "bottom:" When we went to a holiday party at our friends recently, I found myself choosing what I'd wear, so that if I were "tagged" in any photos taken at the party, I would feel sufficiently stylish and not be embarrassed to see them on Facebook the next day. Imagine my anti-climax when no one took any pictures!

What Facebook Has Enabled

I was going to end it there, but then I recalled a recent experience that Facebook enabled, and about which I've gotta blog:

My mom and I are talking earlier this week, as we do nearly daily, and I do not recall why, but she mentions the older sister of a classmate from the Modern Orthodox Jewish day school I attended for eight years, from Grades 1-8. "She has a child and she's not married. Her aunt told me she's a lesbian."

As we're talking, I open Facebook and search on her relatively unusual name: Voila!

My mom and I hang up and I write to the girl, now woman, immediately, about how I was in her brother's class and how my mom told me that her aunt mentioned her lesbianism, and how it's so great to find a kindred spirit from that school finally....

Within record-time, I receive a response. I'm so excited to open the e-mail and it begins by telling me that she has to laugh and is interested in knowing which of her aunts thinks she's a lesbian because though she's not married, the partner she "...still seeks is a man."


And her brother, my classmate, she mentions, has just been visiting, and she'll have to tell him that she has heard from me.

Go Facebook!

So what is the moral of the story? In this case, Facebook did not enable a poignant, pleasant reunion, but rather re-opened a couple of salty wounds potentially -- hers at not yet having found the ideal partner and mine at having endured the Orthodox day school experience as a closeted little lesbian, who to this day, remains the only one I know of from the school.

The other moral is that my need for connection to others is no guarantee of a happy connection. I do think it definitely qualified as an I-Thou exchange ultimately, though.

And finally, I must acknowledge that Facebook did inspire my writing after all. This blog entry is the evidence.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Here is a voice I recognize. It's been many years since I've heard it, but it still rings true and familiar. The first time I had read something you had written I was entranced,I immediatlly asked you for more.I am thrilled to see you writing. And am able to read it.I also watched the Presidents speech,having many similar emotions and thoughts.Within 20 min. I was googling you.I am new to this kind of communication, totally freaked by facebook. But I am tenatious. The farther away you are, the more I have to learn to communicate. See me on facebook.