Sharing Joys and Sorrows Via Facebook
Last week, I learned about the East Coast earthquake from a childhood friend and tracked the hurricane that barely whispered at the Sandhills but roared at some of my Yankee buddies. All on Facebook.
A few months ago, this would not have been possible. In the parlance of the Internet world, someone had been phishing in my Facebook pool, and that phish stinks. My account was hacked, my password co-opted, and when I attempted to regain access, I was denied.
Ultimately my frantic attempts returned me to Facebook credibility.
I confess. I am a Facebook junkie. There you have it. This is the first step, right?
Lately I have been very careful to not click my way into harm's way, but I do have a history of taking time-consuming, meaningless quizzes. I once took great joy in taking the "Which M*A*S*H character are you?" quiz and discovered I was more a devil-may-care doctor than a cross-dressing draft dodger.
I once put great time and effort into answering silly questionnaires until one fairly lengthy list of simple questions and pithy replies ended with something like, "Do you like your homeroom teacher?" I don't remember homeroom.
But there have been more serious personal pursuits with my time on Facebook.
In person, I have met famous Washington journalist Bob Woodward exactly once. We happened to sit next to each other in a Chinese restaurant in downtown D.C. But even with that meeting, he would not be able to pick me out of a two-person lineup if the other guy were Carl Bernstein. But Woodward is my buddy on Facebook. Frankly, Bob is a bit of a Facebook floozie, but don't you think is wondering how my summer went.
So much of technology has torn all of us apart. Personal computers, iPhones, iPads - Americans may be struggling to keep a chicken in every pot, but chances are there is a TV in almost every room, and folks are probably watching alone.
Too often, we are plugged in but tuned out.
Facebook is different, though. For me, at least, it has become a way to collect my past and take it with me into the future. Rekindling old friendships has been wonderful.
I have contact with many adults I knew when we were barely out of diapers. As our life -journeys have taken us in numerous directions, our shared experiences -continue to link us together.
Flirting with unrequited loves and discovering it from others has been safe fun. Does this make Facebook our collective second chance, or just a nice, usually warm, place for affirmation?
One sandbox sweetheart has a -girlfriend of her own these days. Good for them! Glad to know she has not been pining away for me all these years.
There are indeed surprises along the way. One old friend is somewhat of an anti-government atheist who seems to worship at the altar of cheesy reality television. We do not agree on one darn thing, but I loved getting updates on the birth of his youngest child.
One new friend is actually an old member of my extended family who ended on the other side of a messy rift. Thinking she was a mortal enemy has bothered me for years. Facebook helped put that angst to rest.
I can watch my godchildren grow up as their proud parents post pictures from far away with ease, and I can know that older relatives have found comfort in downsized living. In a time when little things make our universe bigger, Facebook brings us back to a smaller community.
Facebook is our way of telling those who were once close or who we hope will be close again that things are going pretty well. I never see a posting like, "Day 8: still in pajamas. Cap'n Crunch supply becoming dangerously low." We are all thin and rich at this reunion. And oftentimes that is exactly what Facebook is - a reunion.
Facebook can be our window into the world, but it is also very much the stage from which we present our best selves and highest hopes. Facebook and other "social media" can also be a productivity killer, but in moderation it allows us to share the joys and sorrows of life with those who have shared a part of our journey.
For now, I am taking it one day at a time.
Chris Larsen, who formerly worked in public relations and lobbying in Washington, lives in Southern Pines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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