In Defense/Celebration of Navel-Gazing

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.

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4 thoughts on “In Defense/Celebration of Navel-Gazing

  1. Oh my goodness, I am sitting here giggling at my computer screen. So many great things: A boy had a crush on you, speech-ing at Willamette (I think I did an expos on yoga) and Facebook is awesome as long as we are mature enough to make it be. And I’m flattered right back, buddy. =)

  2. Fabulous! I sorta felt like I phoned that in, so it’s nice to hear. Speech may warrant its own damn post at some point, given how truly formative it was for me. Yoga sounds awfully familiar… I remember so many of them (crazy good memory over here and all). My own expos on left-handedness (and the one on OCD, fittingly enough), Miss Kimmel’s “Autumn Street” about that little boy, Charles, Jamie… um… the pretty one with the curly hair and her really sad one about the kid with AIDS (I think). Man, we had some times. 🙂

    And do you remember how it was just you, me, Brent, Dana and Jesse at Willamette because the ENTIRE rest of the team opted to go to homecoming instead? Does that make us awesomer or lamer than them?

  3. Um, I DO remember that, and I think at the time it made us lamer, but I am pretty certain that those personality traits have made us be awesomer adults. At least the four-fifths of us who I am still in contact with.

    I remember lots of speeches too. I also remember a “Love Story” tearjerker and another sad one involving an abortion, possibly done by the same people. And of course the one where Molly and Helen lezzed out, but that may have been after you had moved on to Salem.

  4. Mayhaps it was, though I do remember the lezfest. Of course, that could also be because I spent the first few months of college going with you guys to tournaments, as a judge. Um… y’all actually picked me up on campus in the school bus for one tournament. Wow. Super nerd. I can’t believe I went on to make friends and have a relatively normal college experience after that.

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