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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Faceplant on Facebook 

“If you wouldn’t want it printed in the Times, don't write it on Facebook.” That’s what a good friend told me in an attempt to quell my neurotic aversion of social media. Turned out, I hadn’t even scratched the surface of things to be weary of.
After only 4 or 5 hours of Facebook accountability, I had loads of once familiar faces now hitting me up to "friend" me as they say. So many people that I'd forgotten about, a million years in my past, all there now asking to be friends and the perfunctory "What's new?" Well, everything, on account of the fact that it's been a million years since we last had homeroom together. It made me feel
bad about me. I feel bitchy if I don't accept these friends, and I'm so literal that if I accept a friend, then I'm committed as one too. I was neither apathetic nor indifferent; just confused. Am I supposed to assume a different posture of friendship for social media, whereby all that matters is the vestige of familiarity?

That’s why I considered committing "Facebook suicide" to rid myself of the internal mess I was experiencing. My real-life-friend explained to me over the phone that "it's not like real friendship. There's FB Friends and then the true blues, occasionally found on Facebook." She told me that I didn't have to accept every invitation. I didn't know that was an option, somehow feeling trapped in fishbowl with other fish trying to get my attention. So when somebody who wouldn't walk across the street to shake my hand or give me a hug, or in a bar, wave at me from across the room, now hitting me up on Facebook, I'm conflicted. I wanted to pick up my rotary dial phone and place a call to ask them, "Why? Why now? Because I'm here and a long time ago we shared the same zip code? How does that constitute friendship?" I was taking it all too seriously and I didn't know that Facebook friends were like a cheerleading squad: you only have to appear to be friends with them when you're on the floor. Or during half-time. After that, back to reality. And also - maybe I'm just a small small person, not willing to let go of known histories and be the big girl who embraces everyone I ever knew at any point in my life. Fully embrace them and send meaningless, sincere-seeming quick posts in honor of that shared zip code. The fact is, I don't love everyone I ever knew; those that have wanted to hold on and those that I wanted to hold on to, we've mutually agreed to be eclectic and imprecise in our communications.

While it is refreshing to see faces and families of people who once, a long time ago, really meant something to me and it warms my heart being connected with them again, I’m just not comfortable with being a Facebook only friend.

Too serious. Too intense. And taking friendship way too seriously. These are things that I actually like about myself. And my friends do too. Facebook was a challenge to my inner core beliefs and values. Since I still have an account, well, I guess I flunked.

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