In my last post, I wondered briefly about the need to settle on some sort of theme for this blog. I also guessed a bit at who some of my readers might be. Last week, my pal Rebecca wrote a fantastic post about how Facebook is not ruining her life. I thoroughly enjoy reading Rebecca’s blog and she is very nearly singlehandedly responsible for the fact that I have started posting here again with regularity. Though it is not why I enjoyed what she wrote, I was also very flattered that she saw fit to quote me. And then, as an added gem of awesomeness, her post inspired the following exchange on Facebook.
To be clear, I’m not writing this now to be all, “Oh hey, a boy had a crush on me in high school!” Very sweet, yes, but dear God, I’d want to punch myself in the face if that was my sole motivation. Rather, not only did (as Dave pointed out) the exchange absolutely confirm what Rebecca had written, but it also got me thinking about the goods and the bads of Facebook.
I have never hated Facebook. While I have often expressed overwhelming gratitude that it did not exist when I was in college, it has never seemed to me to be quite the cesspool of society-destroying ick that its detractors argue it to be. However, I have on occasion used it less for good and more for semi-evil. I have allowed it to illuminate my sometimes self-destructive need to know things better left unknown. The punishment for that curiosity has been exactly what it should be – shit that hurts and/or angers that I don’t need in my brain.
There are all kinds of things I enjoy about Facebook. I really like that it has helped foster an increasingly closer and more meaningful relationship with my Robinson cousins. They are a trio of kickass girls and I feel pretty lucky to be able to also call them friends. In general, Facebook keeps me in better touch with most of my family and – wood knocking here – that hasn’t bitten me in the butt yet. FB has also helped me keep close tabs on friends as they hurdle over and through life-altering experiences like marriage and kids. I’m pretty much the perfect audience for the hundreds of pictures you’ve taken of your kidlets. I’ll probably look at them all.
Facebook also gives me occasion (as it did last Friday after the rapid-fire exchange on Rebecca’s page) to think about where I’ve come from. Being reminded of high school got me thinking about competitive speech and the first tournament I competed in at Willamette University. That trip ended up playing a pretty pivotal role in my decision to apply to and ultimately attend Willamette. I’m not exactly sure what my point is. I think it’s probably something in the neighborhood of what Rebecca articulated at the end of her post last week:
The challenge and the potential of post-modernity is that our groups are no longer tribally and geographically driven, which is precisely why Facebook is such a success. We have to put effort into seeking out or creating our own communities; but these can be intensely meaningful, supportive and inclusive. We have to take responsibility to make what we want of them. Even Facebook.
Part of why I am so grateful that Facebook didn’t exist when I was younger is that I would have made very little good out of it. Giving the angsty melodramas of my youth an additional stage to play out on could not possibly have ended well. Now though, while I certainly acknowledge the navel-gazing inherent in Facebook participation, I’m at least as interested in checking out your belly button as I am my own.