I don’t know how to begin this letter to you. How to express this. But it’s been bothering me for a while lately, so–here goes.
It’s like this: I both like you and don’t like you.
Maybe there are parts of me that you don’t like either.
But we’ve agreed to be friends and over a year ago, I signed up with you. We shook virtual hands and you showed me how to upload a photo (fortunately my daughter tagged me in about 25 photos. Me on the deck. Me in winter coat. Us on the gondola in Venice. More me than I’d ever seen in one place before.)
Then you asked “What’s on your mind?” Ohmygoodness! What’s on my mind? You mean you want this condensed to a couple of sentences? You’ve got to be kidding! There’s a blog on my mind! A novella! A full-length novel! You want only one snippet? How can one do this without shunning the other 500 snippets of the day? Really, Facebook!
Then you re-introduced me to all my old friends and family. C’mon, you said, let’s all meet in my living room. Let’s exchange one-line snippets and maybe play games and poke each other and chat and look at photos and–OK, Kathy–if you have to–write a note to your friends.
But I’m here to tell you that note-writing can be dangerous. Let’s say you write a note and don’t tag anyone. Then no one (except the savvy) reads your note. If you choose ten or twenty people to tag with your note, everyone else feels rejected. They feel like you don’t love them. They sniffle. Finally, one decides note-writing is not appropriate on Facebook. See how it goes?
As for the privacy issue–Facebook, you have some people crazy over this one. They say you don’t respect us. They say you’re a gossip. They say you share our secrets in other on-line places. Personally, I’m not a-twitter (oh lord, we won’t even begin discussing Twitter here!) about the privacy issue. I wag my tongue daily in a blog. Last year I started my blog on WordPress without even giving my name. This year I’m ready to divulge anything except maybe social security number. So you probably can’t gossip any of my secrets without my already-given permission. See, I won’t say anything on you that can’t be written on a billboard and posted on US-41. So we’re OK on this issue.
Beside from the one-line condensations of our complicated lives and the challenges of note-writing on Facebook…here is another concern. I have a sneaking suspicion that SOMETIMES Facebook makes us less close to our friends and family.
What? Did I hear you gasping? Well, it seems that way, anyway. Not with all friends and family. Some of us do seem to get closer. Some of us have deepened into True Friendship in the halls of your on-line house.
But here is sometimes what seems to happen:
You connect with Cousin Anne or Old Friend Bob or College roommate Louise on Facebook. Hug, hug, virtual hug. You give high fives. “Whatcha been doin’? How ya been? Isn’t it exciting to be on Facebook? Now we can be part of each other’s lives once again!”
But the reality is this. In 6 out of 10 cases (my estimation) you rarely ever exchange a word again with Anne or Bob or Louise. You and Cousin Anne used to think you were close. You used to think you would like to hang around if you lived near one another. You used to feel connected.
But let’s say you post your status, “Hey, I’m watering my geraniums right now!” or “Don and I are going boating this afternoon!” or “Love is a many splendored thing…” and Anne doesn’t say a word to you. She instead chats with maybe four of her friends and ignores the other 66 of you. You can see she’s commenting and joking with other people.
Sixty-six people end up feeling ignored. Well, that’s not true, Facebook. Because thirty-three people aren’t even in your living room at all anymore. They rarely poke their head in. They rarely check statuses and they simply don’t care.
A large group of us become stalkers–peering into the lives of people we thought were close–never saying a word. And that’s probably because we can’t think of one-liners to condense our sentiments! Or who knows why we don’t say anything? Perhaps we have TOO many friends on Facebook and are now rendered completely overwhelmed.
Now, Mr. Book, don’t get me wrong. You know I like you. I think I like you. I do like lots of my friends that perch in your living room. Heck, I love lots of them. That’s why I keep going over. To see what’s happening and to connect with the friends who do respond to my one-line status updates. To say, “Hi Susan! Janet! Carla! Barbara!” (Oh please forgive me all the rest of you…too many names to type…don’t mean to ignore you….please forgive!) To get a condensed snippet of what they’re thinking, feeling, doing.
The truth is this: in some ways you’ve enriched several of my friendships. In other ways–tut, tut–I think the opposite has happened. And that makes me very sad.
Thank you for being a good sport and listening with an open mind. Let’s try to work out our differences, shall we? I know many of your profiles have a great relationship with you. They think you’re dynamite! They think you’re cool beans.
My daughter wisely suggested that I have challenges with you because I want you to be something different from you are. Perhaps that’s true. In that case, I shall have to work at accepting you for who you are.
Sincerely, One of your profiles
P.S. Just wrote this five minutes ago and got a Facebook friend invitation from someone who said, “Hey, Kathy. Your blog is really fine. I spent some good times in the UP, and saw the lights once up in the Porkies. John.”
Wait a minute! Forget everything I just said! Facebook is great…Facebook is great… Facebook is… Well, just like all of us. Relationships are complicated.