Ten Things I've Learned From Facebook
I was booking it through an airport headed east to start a summer in Europe with more luggage than a person should ever have, and a man, in his generosity, offered me a luggage cart for which he had paid. In an act of blinding idiocy, I declined. I declined because I had too much stuff to carry as it was...how the heck would I push a luggage cart too? I blame a series of night shifts for that kind of swift thinking, but I have to admit, stupid creeps up on me sometimes. Which brings me to Facebook. For years, I had fought getting on Facebook, citing being too busy for it, and having trouble keeping up with everyone as it was. As it turns out, a good amount of my friends are on Facebook, and it's actually a TOOL to keep up with them. Imagine that. Everyone has their own reasons for social networking, or for avoiding it, I see great arguments for both sides. I'll say in my own case, I have lived the past 10 years of my life very, very differently than most--I'd call it vagabondish, but since I'm female, people are more comfortable with the term "gypsy." Honestly, I was nervous facing the people of my past with how I lived, because it was just so far off the beaten path. It makes for okay writing, but it does ring the 'she's crazy' bell for some. And the bell tolls for me.
1. There is clearly a mind-control alien who runs Facebook.
Who is this guy? He can take over the world! I'm one of the people who was completely against social networking, and one month into it, my friends thought I needed a "Facebook Intervention." They told me I didn't read the small print, and that it's completely addictive. I needed Facebook rehab. Facebook was only feeding the rest of my crazy--writing, imagining, and thinking almost completely in song. I have already allowed songs to make grown-up decisions for me, and having a friend update their status with the song 'Summertime' is enough to make me re-consider going to work for the day. Facebook Man got me. He got me good.
2. People are so freakishly awake.
When I joined Facebook last year, I was working night shift, and would log on when I had down time. I could not believe how many people I knew were awake, (and on Facebook), at all hours. People paid me to stay awake and I just barely did it, how, and more importantly why, are people staying awake at night? My friend the psychiatric nurse told me that the census is down for every unit in her hospital except the Psychiatric Ward. It's almost good news--the rest of the hospital is seeing fewer and fewer physically sick people, but the mental-health ward is over capacity. She cited job losses, depression,and just general hard times as the reason, and we live in the Silicon Valley! Facebook-induced insomnia can't be helping the situation. Facebook is immortal. Go to sleep, it will be there in the morning.
3. No photo should ever be posted without signed waivers from all photographed parties.
Seriously. Enough said.
4. People change.
And not just the weight gain, and the receding hairlines. I've seen some thugs I knew in the past with scriptures as their status updates. I've seen some of the drama from the past cool to civility with some of my friends, and it's encouraging. Most of my old-friends have progressed or improved in ways I always hoped they would. Their past is part of my past, and knowing they're doing okay puts everything into perspective. We grew up, and I love it. I recently saw, "Grown-Ups," and once again, reflected on the ways that we changed, where we moved, how we stayed the same. My old friends tell me I have not changed, and I'm not sure how to take that. I've matured! I've grown as a person! What do you mean I haven't changed?! But I've decided to be happy about the fact that they feel I haven't changed. I did re-connect with some that changed in a way that means the person I knew is gone--or never existed, and it's hard to figure out which of those scenarios is worse.
5. My memory is way better than I thought, or want it to be.
One of my favorite Facebook pages was "I'm not creepy, I just have really good memory." My memory is not a choice, it's a genetic curse. My grandmother has this memory, and I inherited it. I can recall the best and worst of the past in vivid detail. The more emotional connection I have with the memory, the more details I recall. It has something to do with the limbic system, blah, blah, blah, but if it could be removed surgically, I'd do my own IV and surgical prep. Even when I haven't thought of something or someone in many years, it is more likely that I've just displaced, rather than forgotten.. Facebook dislodged old memories, and some have been really, really great. It wasn't boring, guys, have to admit that much.
6. Abbreviation is now an accepted dialect.
Well, you can't major in abbreviation in college, but it wouldn't be the worst idea to just embrace the idea of abbreviations, and make it one of the 101's. I write. I've always written, and can be a purist about books, and words. Abbreviations use to completely annoy me, but in the interest of not wasting time, I came to the dark side. I still have to "urban dictionary" an abbreviation or two, even now, with all the texting I do. I'll still argue that hardly anyone can spell without the assistance of technology, and it's our own fault. Looks as though abbreviations are here to stay, though. Even my mother texts, and abbreviates. The end is certainly near.
7. We are all voyeurs.
Facebook brings this out in all of us. For those who imagine they are above this, it's more likely they just haven't found an interesting enough Facebook wall. My brother is a very disinterested Facebooker. He is nearly never on it, and has forgotten that he even has an account once or twice. It only took a basketball injury, and a subsequent knee surgery that left him housebound for him to discover his inner stalker. He doesn't have the ability to hide much, so he openly admitted to spending hours reading "news feeds" and looking at pictures. He sent me a Facebook message during the time, "I believe surgery, pain-killers, and Facebook break-up families."
8. There's a chance I might not ever grow up.
Thirty year old me knows she has to be responsible, to pay bills, and to do her grown-up job that involves saving people's lives. Unfortunately, 17-year-old me, though I thought I murdered her, needs to make sure that an old love interest's girlfriend isn't cuter than me, or doing better than me. I truly, truly hate to admit that, and most who know me would be certain that I am just too sophisticated and evolved to concern my lofty self with such inconsequential nonsense. Not the case. I needed to know.
9. The past happened.
Whether it's our mistakes we're
running from, or our future we're running towards, we can get so far
away from our past that it almost seems like science fiction. But it
all really did happen, and denial is a waste of time. We have to own
it. Yes, I really did wear that, buy that, or date that. Time to face
the truth. It can't be unwritten, and it wears running shoes. It will
catch up to you.
10. We are just not that different.
We aren't. I mean, the details are different, but how many on your friend list aren't muddling through their lives with essentially the same goals--a decent present, a better future, love, happiness, and peace? When I see people arguing vehemently over politics, and religion, I hear an underlying awareness that things are just not right in the world, and more than one of us wants things fixed; more than one of us wants to do something about what we see; more than one of us knows that it will take dramatic change to do everyone justice, small changes won't work. When I see that one of the 'bad-boys' I knew in the past has become a father, or a husband, or simply an asset to society, and now they've 'gotten Jesus,' I don't think that's about fear. I think that's about love. My friends who've become parents and are newly religious, have probably discovered a love they didn't know they had,--a love they didn't have for themselves, even--and they would like the world not to suck for their offspring. If religion gives them hope, than off to church they go. Though religion and politics will always fuel the biggest fires when it comes to arguments, and even wars, it goes back to the core values of wanting things to be better, and disagreeing on how to get them so.