I’m surprised to say this but I really appreciate you, Facebook. In fact, I am grateful for you, especially now, the night after the 12.14.12 massacre of the 20 beloved, precious children and six adults from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Facebook, I’ve talked trash about you, how you are so fake, how everyone only SEEMS to be connected through you but only talking about surface level crap like which fancy restaurant someone checked into, which YouTube video you just have to watch, which gadget your classmate from junior high deems worthy of a “Like,” or “Hey, look at the 434th picture of my kid” (that last one is me).
Maybe I’m hard on Facebook because I invented it like Al Gore invented the Internet. More than a decade ago when I was emailing with my girlfriends from my second job out of graduate school, I told them, “If only there was something along the lines of an emailing ‘service’ or website where folks who aren’t necessarily close friends can just pop in and shoot the breeze about what they are thinking at the moment, from the mundane to the profound, the happy and the sad and the in-between, as they go about their day-to-day work. I can’t just email YOU guys all the time.” It truly was a different time then. All I could do to take breaks at work, especially at workplaces that restricted personal email access, was to open up Microsoft Word and try to write, which ironically, professional writers pay for these days (to go somewhere without distractions like the Internet).
I’ve hated on Facebook for being a sham. So many on Facebook seem to be leading blemish-free lives because we only showcase the pretty stuff like the engagements, weddings, vacations and babies but very few of us talk about the difficult stuff. Sometimes wisely so, since Facebook is not the proper vehicle as only your close friends should be privy to the unsafe stuff. And maybe because we don’t take pictures of our fights with our spouses or the tears that we shed?
As a stay-at-home mama, there are at least a couple days a week where it’s just me and my kids. We try to keep active with playdates and activities but naturally, we are just At Home sometimes, especially in colder weather. I look to Facebook to be my watercooler talk since I am no longer part of office culture. But I also look to Facebook to connect with folks beyond current events and mutual love for trash tv shows. It allows me to share joys or vent, wonder out loud, run something by folks, and learn from others. It also lets me see what makes others tick.
While I still don’t care for everything on my Newsfeed and don’t like to be Facebook-friended prematurely (I’m not that kind of gal), I’ve started to see that more Facebook friends are sharing TRUE status updates as to how they are doing, for better or for worse. I think it’s helping people mourn in the aftermath of this massacre or even in their own personal family tragedies. We’ve become a community and while it can never replace real life face-to-face friendships, it reminds me once again that people need people.
So, Facebook…even though you will still annoy me, overtaking society and family life by ousting “How was your day, honey?” and replacing it with, “Did you see on Facebook today…?” tonight I thank you, Facebook,
for letting me process out loud any time I want,
for letting us have a place to talk about devastation that makes no sense at all,
for helping my friends grieve their loved one’s unexpected death,
for giving us a shared space to share Likes and disLikes,
for making us a part of something bigger than ourselves when we feel isolated and lonely,
and most importantly, for letting me share the 435th picture of my kids (which I really should get around to posting before bed). Did you see the one where Micah…
Goodnight, Facebook friends. God bless you and keep you.
I thank Facebook tonight for being the cyber-goo that holds my hood together. Nice read Ji, you closet-anthropologist, you.