Blog: Oh, Facebook

(originally written 7/11/11)

Facebook has come through yet again, keeping me from drifting into insomniac insanity on a night where my body wants—needs, to sleep, but my mind is too over-stimulated to comply.


What did we do to kill small pockets of time pre-2006? Maybe we called others, maybe we read books, who knows, and who cares, because I’m certainly not here to talk about the past. What I do know is that in the present, most every stagnant bank line I’ve stood in, every monotonous work task to be completed, every white zone wait I’ve undertaken, Facebook has been there like a trusty crossword book, ready to help the clock’s hands tick just a wee bit faster with a few presses of cell phone keys (or icons).


Facebook would be useless, however, if you didn’t have friends. Remember those Where’s Waldo? books popularized in the 1990’s? In those books Waldo’s journey’s would send him throughout the world and for every stop he made, if you looked closely, you’d find a character from his previous stop who’d decided to tag along. By books’ end, you had to not only scope out Waldo in every scene, but up to a dozen of his “followers” as well.

Facebook is similar. Our journeys (lives) have taken us from kindergarten on up to high school, college, young adulthood and for some of us, later adulthood. One scan down the row of Friends on our Profile page can represent just about every “stop” we’ve made in our lives and persons who have joined us along the way.  


Why, just right now I’m looking at my own and seeing people I “picked up” from elementary school, high school, online, my old baseball league, and my current Meetup group—like a revolving scrapbook. It’s kind of neat, when you think about it. 


Sometimes you find a friend whom you haven’t seen in forever, and once the initial jubilation over re-discovering one another wanes, you find that you no longer have anything at all to talk about and that you really don’t even know each other anymore. Yet they remain in your network, like a pair of skis thrown in the attic after one use.


Some people get Facebook profiles and never use them, leaving you to wonder why they got them in the first place.  I mean, would you apply for a credit card and as soon as it comes, cut it up?


Others get them and cannot be pried away from them, inundating us with status updates on every single thing that ever happens to them. A former FB friend of mine once provided live, to-the-minute updates on his laundry—I kid you not—which is why he is now a lifelong “former” FB friend.  


Some people join Facebook and set out to befriend every single person they’ve ever met, from their spouse to their friends to their fellow churchgoers all the way to the department store employee who pointed them towards the nearest restroom once. Others, like myself, aren’t as liberal, and treat their FB universe much the way the elite treat their country clubs—looking more for reasons to deny newcomers rather than accept them.


Sometimes you post a difficult status update, such as “My grandpa is ill, on his way to the hospital”. And one of your friends “likes” that post. Leaving you to wonder what your grandpa did to that friend when you weren’t around. Sometimes you post on someone’s wall, and they never respond, yet you see subsequent responses to future wall posts and you want to punch them for ignoring you. 


A lot of the time you will see someone post on a friend’s wall, with absolutely no response. “Hey, Jack, did you get that car you wanted?” Only Jack never answers, leaving you to think what a dick Jack is. (Of course, Jack probably answered via Chat or Email or, heaven forbid, in person…but it still looks bad seeing unanswered questions dangling out in cyberspace.)


Sometimes you will get friend requests from people in lingerie or underwear, and you think “Is it possible I know this person somehow? Surely no stranger would want me to see them in their lingerie/underwear.” 


Facebook often saves you from having to do the work of being a friend. Thanks to FB, I knew well in advance about a buddy's encounter with the fuzz at an A’s game a few weeks ago. Since it’s not the kind of thing one would brag about openly, and I was not about to call him and ask “Hey, dude, I’m just curious: have any police ejected you from a public venue recently?”, I would have never known to bring it up with him when we next met.


Oh, Facebook. What an awesome distraction you prove to be every single day.
If only you came in pill form…