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.

6 comments:

  1. Ms. Audrey I can't say that I share the same beginning stages of facebook as you did. I joined facebook while I was in college. I was the hottest thing going around. It was different than myspace because it was supposed to be kid free in the beginning. You had to have a college email to join. It was different for me. I was young and most of the people that I knew was from college and high school so the aspect of reconnecting with people was not there. But what was interesting was how it was used. Almost like how people text and call folk when they are in the same house....we would send messages to people, while we were both in the library lol. But it was fun, new, and exciting. But your insight on validation and rejection is spot on. When I was a junior in college (2006-07) a few friends and I would take turns writing notes on facebook. Since I went to a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) we felt like we were writing some of the most clever and thought provoking things that anyone had wrote or read. But we would get so few comments and/or likes. We knew the notes were hits because we would talk about them in the cafe, class, on the yard...but people did not comment. I mean we got a lot of "nice", "good job", "very good" comments. But no one took the time to provide their thoughts. We thought we were failures. Even now, like you, I put some clever things/statuses on facebook and will get no notification on my phone. I just chalk it up to only dumb people scrolled their timeline that day lol. But if you think facebook is bad, twitter is way, way worse. I guess the good thing about twitter is you can be very selective on who it is that you follow and who you allow to follow you. But people on twitter are very, very ruthless and relentless. They dont care about your feelings and they dont care about your reaction. Its like they know you dont really know them and will probably never meet them, so they say whatever and purposely try to hurt your feelings. Its a cruel world out there. But I can tell that you enjoy your facebook, as you should. But it sounds like you may be one of the facebookers that as I scroll my timeline I think to myself "another picture" ;~)

    Dont feel bad, I do the same thing to my wife when she posts pics of our son!

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  2. Mr. Travis,

    First, thank you for posting such a thoughtful and insightful comment. How exciting it
    must have been to been on FB when it was actually cool. Especially when you had a circle of intelligent friends with something to say. It was also very astute of you to point out the difference between how we, ahem!..older Face-bookers use the site as opposed to the younger set. I do enjoy my FB and I’m afraid that you are right about my picture posting. My FB friends are subject to pics of me with my daughters, my friends and my family. If you ever found yourself in that unfortunate position, you would probably unsubscribe-me in a New-York minute. lol.. But I wouldn't blame you and you
    wouldn't be the first. (I also push my vegan and animal rights agenda, which does not
    endear me to many.) But how wonderful that your wife posts pictures of your son! I'm with her and I say, "It's our FB and we'll post if we want to! :)

    Btw, I do have a Twitter account, but I don't think I have more than a handful of followers, so I have not been subject to the haters. I have heard that they are a ruthless bunch. True to form, I'll probably become an avid Tweeter in a few years, when it's no longer cool. Or will Twitter be un-cool in a few minutes? I can’t keep up. I’m old.
    Thanks again for sharing your insights!

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  3. I love FB and your blog:)

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  4. Thank you for commenting, sweetie.

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  5. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love the fact that I can catch up with old friends, reconnect with family who live out of state and share my happy moments with others. I love to post pictures of my family, outings with friends, new places I visit or interesting things I come across. I like to think I have a great sense of humor, sometimes more raunchy in person but I do share videos that make people laugh. Looking at my time line is like a personal journal that I am not worried about locking up and hiding the key. So you may think that with all the positive features I pointed out with Facebook that there would be no reason to hate it. My crack addiction to Facebook is the result. I hate (and I rarely use this word) seeing pictures of abused children, deformed children & adults, obvious adult bullying, children under the facebook required age of 13 using social networking. I've had many talks with my sister about my 11 year old nephew using Facebook. So far this week I have called him out on a video of a kid being bullied losing his cool & clearly body slammed the kid & hurt him. Not that I don't agree with sticking up for yourself, its the fact that violence was used to band-aid a bigger problem. The second post I responded to was a picture of Ronald McDonald with his hand in the air & a caption that said "I will slap the McShit out of you." Not only did he post this once but it showed up three times in a row. Must have really wanted to share that with his friends.... The disrespect that Crack Book brings out in people makes me hate it. The constant complaints from grown adults as well as their posts of them trying to relive their youth while their children are at home networking with the world and not an ounce of care of what their timeline "journal" will store for years. Im not saying that all parents do this or for the fact that I mentioned my nephews posts that this relates to my sister. I've seen so many things that I dont like, but my personal addiction keeps me from deleting my account. Similar to an addict I have an idea of when I got hooked (6 years ago when I had my youngest daughter), just not willing to give it up...

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post Valarie. You sound like a great FB friend with your videos and sense of humor. We need more of that! Your comment also articulated many of my feelings about FB. The hateful posts and comments that I sometimes see repulse me as well. I found this to be especially true during the last presidential election, which is one reason Gregg and I decided to leave politics out of our venue. It seems to bring out the worst in people! You also bring up a good point about the ‘timeline journal.’ What we write on FB is in some ways part of our legacy. It’s funny how people feel a sort of anonymity when they post things that they might never say to someone’s face. And you’re right about kids. I did not allow my daughter on FB until she was thirteen and even then I insisted on having her log-in and password. She is also on Instagram and Twitter. She often reads me that hateful comments that she receives in response to her posts, but she is mature enough and has enough self-respect to handle it. My addiction to FB is fueled by the fact that I can keep in touch with family and friends that time would not allow me to if I had to depend on phone calls and letters. So, like you, I am not willing to give it up! Thanks again for commenting!

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