Slice of Life 19:
A friend of mine said yesterday, “This is a real concern of mine. It’s tracking me. Knows my online searches, showing me advertisements based off information collected. Some places online I can’t even check out their goods without first logging in through FACEBOOK. It’s an epidemic. And I feel like everyone is following along like sheep to the slaughter.”
Call her dramatic? Paranoid.? Overreacting? Is there not a sliver of truth to her concerns?
We should be concerned about elusive cyber monkeys grappling at our information. Aside from those concerns, her words initiated an avalanche of thought.
My brother, Fran, has been holding out on Facebook. Since day one he has rolled his eyes and vowed to never succumb to the social network trend. He has stood firm on his promise. I read a quote by George Clooney once, “I would rather have a prostate exam on live television by a guy with very cold hands than have a Facebook page.” This is how I view my brother. He wants nothing to do with it, even with the rest of the world’s population jumping on board. I respect him for his steady stance and strong convictions on the matter.
I am grateful social networking allows me to see my friend’s children- Oh yes, I know these kids. The whole spectrum; from delivery room -to holidays -to the amazing pancake creation my friend made her kids for breakfast- to losing their first tooth- to sledding- to Dad and daughter’s first school dance- to pajama time- to the loving note the son of the girl that I went to elementary school with wrote to Mom- to the pictures at the zoo- to the candid sleeping car pics…
I know these kids.
Have I ever in my life SEEN these kids? Of course I have, when it comes to my close friends. Others I have not. I would be a Stranger Danger in their eyes- even though Facebook has allowed me to chronicle most every significant event in their little young lives. Even with my close friends, I wonder how much more I would make the effort to reach out and plan a visit… if I didn’t feel ever so comfortable and complacent with my “like” or comment on their kid’s picture. What’s the significance and the overall effects of the irony of a social networking site, whose sole projected purpose is to, “connect,” actually serving to delay visits, phone calls, letters (what are those again?)
We are all busy and lead hectic lives, so perhaps Facebook’s an exceptionally helpful device to keep us updated, right? Why does that statement make me wince a little? I think we have to tread lightly. I think of the time I participated in a fundraiser and ran into the girlfriend of a childhood friend. “Hey Julie!” I exclaimed with a smile. Only, she did not reciprocate the warm greeting. Hers was a polite smile caked in confusion. Oh my.. She doesn’t know me. I am officially the Facebook creep that has seen hundreds of pictures of her online. She has never seen my face. “Oh.. haha..I am Brian’s friend. Er. I’ve seen you on Facebook.” No, that wasn’t awkward. Not in the least.
This voyeuristic mechanism has allowed us to peer into the lives of hundreds of, “friends.” How many have you seen in the past year? Excluding family, I can honestly say a couple dozen. How many people are actually seeing my face? Three dimensional face, in all it’s wonderful, aging glory?
Truthfully, I don’t even know if the pictures I am looking at really look like the person I once was acquainted with. Now, with Instagram, everyone looks fantastic with their digitally enhanced portraits of themselves or their perfect family.
There’s something, “off,” about a page generated to represent one ’s self; self-censored, bits and pieces of tailored snipits of a life, edited to meet one’s perception of themselves. This is me world! Mmmm.. wincing? Just a little?
Don’t get me wrong. I have a page. I go on it. I love that it allows me the opportunity to keep up with my brother and sister-in-law in California, with my sister, brother-in-law and kids from Baltimore. There are amazing aspects.
I’m considering today the other effects. The long term. I don’t want Facebook to replace my actual face. I want to make the efforts to see the three dimensional loves in my life and not settle for the, “Likes,” and the comments, the Instagrams, and the occasional private message. Call me crazy, but there’s just something about looking someone in their eyes and feeling their energy as we converse. There’s an art to that that I’m not willing to compromise and lose. Being able to respond instinctively and naturally, without the reservation, self assessment, and revision of a composed cyber-message. I’d like to make more time for that. I’d like to make more time for real people- not the two dimensional kind. You know, the real kind. I’ll keep my face on Facebook for the time being, but I’m treading lightly. My 3-D face needs more air time. And Kelly- I’m coming to see your 3-D baby while I’m at it.