Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Welcome To Crackbook"

Indifference, Love and Obsession
I have a complicated relationship with Facebook. Since our first encounter, I have run the gamut between indifference, love and obsession. 

When my sister introduced me to FB in 2008, it took me a few months to succumb. When I finally did open an account, she was the first to post on my wall.

“Welcome to Crack-book!”   It was an auspicious beginning. 

At first, I was on but not really in. A fact that was glaringly obvious by my profile picture or more accurately, my lack of one. For several months, I had Facebook's default image of the silhouette-girl with a page-boy-helmet-haircut. I was good with that because I hated all of my recent pictures. I'd spent the last year eating my way through the emotional debris of a divorce and even a head shot would have shown the extra 30 lbs of baggage I carried (okay, ate). Also, I thought there was a good chance someone would mistake me for Delta Burke.

A few months later, Sis called me out on my anonymity by way of another wall post. “Are you in the witness protection program?” 

I was content to stay in the program until my brother offered a simple yet ingenious solution. “Use an old picture!” He didn't specify how old, so I went back to the dark ages and chose my black and white high school senior picture.  Aha! I too was a genius!  Or so I thought, until yearbook photos started appearing all over Facebook, because of a popular application called ‘Yearbook Yourself.’ You plug your photo into this app and voila! You have a retro black and white yearbook pic of yourself.  Crap. I was old enough to be vintage. Is vintage better than fat? I couldn't decide, so I kept the high school pic and held out hope that my Facebook friends would think that I had Year-Booked myself.  But, it didn't take long for Sis
to comment on my picture. "My sister did not Yearbook herself. That's her high school picture!"

Does anyone else notice a pattern here? 

Eventually, as my sister predicted, I took to FB as a junkie does to crack. Reading and commenting on the eclectic array of posts every day enthralled me. It still does. You never know what you're going to see. Some friends use FB to promote their business or their political and religious agendas. Some push their passions, tell jokes or re-post inspirational messages. Others post pics of their kids, their friends, themselves, their pets and their food, while letting you know where they are at any given moment via the 'check-in'. 

I’m guilty of all of the above. I also tell stories, post my blogs and ask for advice. I used to feel the need to post everyday, but I eventually realized that If I have nothing to say, perhaps less is more. Actually nothing is more. A friend pointed out that it was probably not necessary to alert FB when I was about to take a nap. Okay, so I may have been guilty of over-sharing a little.

Validation and Rejection
Facebook is a place where you can get instant validation or rejection through a ‘like’ or a ‘comment’ or the absence thereof.  A couple years ago I posted a true-story about a chat with a Colombian FB friend who I danced with at one of our local clubs. He did not speak or understand English any more than I understood Spanish. I referred to our language barrier and declared to my FB friends that I wasn't sure whether I was engaged or I had just bought a goat.  That was a 'like and comment' home-run. On the other hand, I've unwittingly started bitter arguments by posting an off-hand remark about a political issue.

After 5 years on FB, I still can't crack the 'post-reaction code'. I've posted status updates that I thought were either smart, insightfull or funny that have not yeilded a single ‘like’ or ‘comment.’ Ugh. It's like the feeling you have when your friends leave you hanging after you've raised your hand for a high five. Bummer! But this is where your kids can come in handy. After much begging and threatening, my sixteen-year-old daughter finally agreed to be my friend. She's a sweetheart, so I can usually count on her for a mercy-like.

A Facebook wall can be a snapshot of someone’s life, albeit an inaccurate one.Through the years I have added relatives, old friends and new ones. What I have come to love about FB is that I can keep in touch with friends and relatives across the country and in some cases across the world. Cousins that I haven’t seen since I was a child, are in my life again. I get to learn about their lives and get an inkling of their core values.  It's a blessing to be able to communicate regularly with so many special people. As face paced as most of our lives are these days would that be possible without social media? I'm not so sure.