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Monday, May 04, 2009

Forgiving Facebook

Many of you are probably aware that it is pretty easy to get me to sign up for a new "social networking" website. I've always been easy that way, even though I've been pretty stubborn about actively socializing on them.

Then Facebook came along, and I found myself getting downright grumpy about the whole online social scene. People I've been trying to stay in touch with for years were suddenly saying hey to me on Facebook. Would it really have been so hard to reply to my carefully crafted, hand-written letters back in the 80s & 90s? Couldn't you have sent me an actual personal note in an email all those years rather than just forwarding me those missing children notices and jokes?

I've always been a hey-we-should-keep-in-touch kind of person. I'm the "memory book" guru - a product which people always enjoy, but when I ask them to contribute they react as if I've asked for one of their kidneys. I've kept a holiday mailing list nearing a couple hundred friends and family for almost 20 years. I've headed up reunion committees and round robin mailings between old friends, and I'm the one you can almost always count on to have a camera at any given gathering.

Yet, I was becoming quite the Grinch about this whole Facebook phenomenon.

My friend said, "I thought Facebook would be right up your alley."

"You would think," I said as I groused about yet another person contacting me via Facebook when they darn well knew my direct email!

Then I read How to be Happier: Stay Connected to Your Past at The Happiness Project. "I don’t begrudge the time I spend on Facebook," Gretchen wrote.

I started asking myself why I've been begrudging that time so fiercely.

Also from Gretchen:

Sometimes it makes me sad that I’ve left behind my lawyerly identity –
there were many things I enjoyed about that time. Staying connected to that part of my past makes me happier – and so does staying connected to other parts of my past.

Hasn't that always been my general attitude, as well? Why was I not embracing Facebook as a way to stay in touch?

So last week I relented a little, and this week I relented a little more. I mean, I've been on Facebook for quite a while, and I have had some great connections. I've been back in touch with cousins I haven't seen in years. It's been a handy tool for getting notices about some local events, as well.

But last week I decided to forgive Facebook for accomplishing what I haven't been able to do on my own, or what I've only been able to do with a very limited number of people. Old friends are saying hey again. I'll admit, there is still kind of a strange feeling to it, seeing so many pieces of my past compiled on one little web page.

the far left, the far right

the people who've known me only as a stay-at-home momma,
the people who've known me only from a work-a-day life

my college buddies, my sandbox friends

those asking me to "friend" Jesus

those who are atheists



The past is a wild and wonderful thing, and there's a little glimpse of mine on Facebook. Now that I'm working on tempering my grinchy attitude, I'm am starting to have a bit of fun.

It's not such a bad thing, that Facebook. If it makes staying connected to the past a little bit easier, I forgive.

And there is a lot of worthy "present" connection going on there, as well.


Anonymous said...

Great thoughts! I like the idea of the site making people a little bit happier and feeling more connected to the past. You are awesome, Tracy!

Anonymous said...

Facebook is just one of the many things I still haven't participated in. I did contact my sister via email the other day. We write maybe a few times a year. She asked if I had a facebook and I told her no. Now your post makes me think that maybe I should reconsider. Hmmnn.

Callie Lyons said...

Color me guilty.

For a writer, I'm lousy at keeping in touch - even with the people who mean the most to me. Like you.

Deepest apologies.