Sunday, April 12, 2009
Apparently, there are people who wish to be able to have at their electronic fingertips the ability to tell hundreds of others that they "overdid it last night," or that they are "having a nap." I barely acknowledge these things to myself, let alone to dozens of familiar strangers, and to then have someone inform me that they "like this."
Before experiencing Facebook, I was of the misguided, blithe and collegial notion that all communication was good, but after learning the unimaginative minutiae of the lives of people who are not sharing my household, it seems a vague attempt at real communication, whatever that may be in this over-informed information age.
I do not need to know that Janice, who shared my homeroom class in 7th grade, has just eaten frozen ravioli, nor do I need to know that she enjoyed it, however edifying it may be. Perhaps if it had been a ham sandwich, she could have piqued my disinterest.
I wondered what bit of my reverie might be of interest to people with whom I have never had a personal telephone call. Might Sharon and a hundred other "friends" like to know that I just bought four new tires, or that I'd watered the plants (scintillating!) or had a half of a chocolate danish for breakfast? Dare I think that they might?
What if I were to call Sharon, out of the blue, and reveal such inane ephemera to her? Or, what if I sent a registered letter to her with recent photos of myself, just to inform her of my favorite new Trader Joe's product? Yes, I know, context is everything, but what is this context? Facebook is the cyber equivalent of milling about at a very undistinguished cocktail party, sans the guests, cocktails and party.
This is a great way not to keep in touch with people, but to still supply the chimera that might dupe us into believing that we are indeed as close as our keyboards and mouses and lists of favorites can bring us, which, by some revelations I've read, is very close. It used to be called "uncomfortably intimate," now it's called "keeping in touch on Facebook."
I'd always believed that small talk was a good thing, but that was measured by the value of looking in someone's eyes, spending a dedicated moment or four in the spontaneous exchange of what used to be called "pleasantries." Facebook seems more geared toward exchanging what I will call cybertries -- snippets of mostly tiresome blurts that serve to disclose that someone is, in fact, still breathing -- and willing to be as minimally interested in you as you might be in them -- at least enough to read their boasts, pseudo-diary entries and idle chatter... while multi-tasking.
I suppose there's really no need for real conversation anymore, or exchanges of ideas that aren't accompanied by a fizzy icon or moderately giddy rating system. But for me, I'm going to stick with good old-fashioned... texting.