Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bitter Party of One, Your Table's Ready

My husband deleted, or should I say deactivated, his facebook account today.  I noticed his absence this morning when I looked at where it said “married to.” His picture was gone, along with his name. Now it just says I’m married.  To whom?  Only I know for sure, but I assure you that we are still very much married.

Erik and I have both had a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I got sucked in my first semester of grad school in 2008.  It seemed like all the cool kids were doing it and I didn’t want to feel left out like a teetotaler at a keg party. And to take this keg party metaphor one step further, I got drunk on Facebook after my first sip of foam.  I wanted to be friends with anyone that would claim me, even people I didn’t particularly like that much.  In real life, I’m a little more discretionary with my friendship, but on the world wild web, I was a slut.

In 2009, Erik joined the party while I was away at school.  He missed me.  And if you thought I was a slut, you should have seen Erik after his first few sips of inst-a-matic friend connection.  He accumulated over 600 friends in a matter of months.  It didn’t matter that maybe their only connection was sitting in the same class in 1985—they were friends—a motley mix of the past, the present, people he worked with, people he didn’t know and about 200 people he “met” playing Viking Clan.

But then one day, I scrolled through my husband’s list of new found friends and discovered a few of his ex-girlfriends in the mix.  Yes, I'll admit, I've searched for a few old flames, but I did not find discovering these ladies on my husband's friend page particularly fun. Because of my imaginative (okay, some might say neurotic or maybe paranoid) nature, it made me question the reality of facebook, of friendship, of life.  I know, heavy.  Right?

So, I started culling the masses.  I cut.  I cut some more.  But then I was told that as a writer I had to have lots of friends.  You know, friends to sell that book to when and if it ever came out.  Well, guess what?  Facebook is the biggest distraction from writing that book that I have ever encountered.  I can’t seem to pull myself away from the party. I want to see the pictures and the status updates and the witty quotes and the Farmville acquisitions.  Okay, I lied about that last one.  I could care less about Farmville.

To be honest, Facebook allows me too much information about the people I know, even about the people I don’t know.  I know their religious beliefs.  I know which political candidates they like or don’t like.  I know which TV shows they watch, what movie they just saw, if they have a migraine, if their child is potty trained, if their dog is depressed, if they are in love or merely in a state of complication. 

What I don’t know is if I can function without it.  Erik is the test case and if he can boldly go forth without friends liking his every move, I may decide to join that party.

14 comments:

  1. Well put. You aren't alone but you know this. It is a time-sucker, as Erik put it. As I spend far too much time on various blogs, social media sites, recipe generators and photo uploaders, I also spend this time when my child is asleep. When awake I am off. I also type REALLY fast and search like the wind. I know when to walk away.

    FB has allowed me to re-connect with friends I had lost contact with and Erik is on the top of that list. I remember once .. way back in MySpace days .. I had posted something about Lola being adorable .. something .. it was a photo of a tiny girl, no caption. He posted back, "Do you even know her name?!" I was so sad. No I didn't. I had lost contact. We were separated geographically and telepathically. I didn't know her name. I was upset at myself for a long time after reading that. Erik has always been one of the most important people in my life yet I didn't know his daughter's name, I didn't know where he was living, what he was doing, what he was creating or what he looked like then.

    Maybe it was one-sided. Maybe I assumed he felt the same about our friendship but had moved on. We both had moved on. All I know is that I just think the world of him and I missed him greatly.

    Then .. wait for it .. Facebook happened. Now I know everything and can let him know I know now. I know and it makes me enriched, enlightened, terribly happy to be part of it all again.

    So with his leaving this very small part of the internet. This time-sucker, I am sad again and feel that its just this little space in time where I can let him know I am listening, reading, watching, hearing, feeling his friendship. I am MAD now that he can't manage it! Fuck! I am crying now. It might seem like a ridiculous place to keep up with everyone but THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE NOW! THIS IS WHERE IT ALL GETS FED! ITS TANGIBLE.

    I know now, Erik. Later.

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  2. I too love that I've been able to connect with people that I'm not around anymore, so I doubt I'll have the cajones to actually leave facebook. But, I do think I need to manage my time with it. Who knows, Erik may go back, but right now his mind is on making art again. He's spent the last 14 years doing commercial art and now he's motivated to create something for himself. I want to see that happen. And I'll post pics of it when it does:)
    Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.

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  3. You've finally discovered the truth:


    Facebook is evil.


    Escape while there's still something left of you. The sane part of you.


    I gave it up after only 6 months and nothing but angst, paranoia and lost time sitting on my ass doing nothing worthwhile. It's an addiction just like any other. If you leave, the real world will welcome you with open arms (some of us are still out here waiting for the others to return).


    Love,
    Jenny

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  4. Aww, Jenny. Thank you for stopping by my tiny little excuse for a blog to say hey.

    Huzzah! Can't wait to see you on Friday! Face time.

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  5. Hi, Marina and sorry if I am misspelling your name. Pamela, this is a great story! Love it. I will miss Erik's random photos and posts. Not sure why FB is on his list of dislikes! Oh well. I love FB and spend about 30 minutes a day on it.

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  6. I wish I could spend just 30 minutes on it. I'm on there WAY too much.

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  7. Hi Karen!

    Pam, I would really appreciate seeing his work as he progresses. I suppose there really is no better reason then creating art to step away from distractions whether its FB, TV or even the radio.

    The other day I felt as if he was thinking that he should be in a different place in his life right now. I sensed he felt deeply about what he has accomplished, which has been enormous both in art, his family, the old gallery, his website, his connections in the music world, graffiti, yet he has been feeling like it has gone unnoticed and frustrates him. I just sense this.

    I was telling Rob about his old VW bug without a backseat because it was full of milk crates filled with spray cans .. oh and skateboards. I love these times but now is now and he is an artist first. I suppose FB is somewhat juvenile to him. Ha!

    Ironically, his departure from FB is bringing us together .. on your blog! Yaay! xoxo

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  8. Marina... your comment is so well put. I too love being able to stay in touch with all those I can. Those who have touched my life in the past, and present. The challenge is the time management...... I wonder what that ability to get sucked into it says about all of us? That is the real question. So many people complain about it. Are we all starved in some respect?

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  9. Well, we are certainly more of a transient society now. Many of us move away from our families or where we grew up. I know, not all, but many do. Maybe we are craving connection to those who helped define or shape us in certain times in our lives. I have known Jenny since I was 13 years old and when she dropped off of facebook it seriously bummed me out.

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  10. I agree. It is definitely a place where our connections with both family and friends is like no other. My MIL posts often and even though we talk on the phone weekly, I love all the photos she posts of the nieces and nephews we never get to see. It's immediate gratification that brings me back to FB over and over, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute.

    I am not close to my own family so a WHOLE new world has opened up for me through Rob's. I feel a part of something natural and inherent that I, personally, never had. It's the same with friends on FB that, as you well stated Pam, are transient.

    Erik bought my ex's 1966 F-150 truck. A truck I used to drive to work and holy hell it was hard for me to do that! I looked like a little child sitting in that truck, turning the steering wheel with all my might! Reading that Erik bought and is restoring that beauty is just ONE of the small moments in life - brought to you by Facebook - that makes me smile.

    I truly believe FB is where we go to get some needed inspiration, admiration, are consoled and certainly fills our insecurities of facing the world outside with lucidity. For good or bad I am content that it exists. As well, I respect Erik's decision even though I will now have to stalk your page Pam :) Maybe you could create a fake Erik page. Hehe.

    Pam, I LOVE the title of this post. Brilliant! You are such an awesome writer.

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  11. Dear peeps, the thought of banishing FB existed shortly after signing up. To me, it was creating a habit, one that would create other habits. Habits that use my time without wisdom or regard to goals. I often found myself reading or looking at shit that normally I would not have done. This is the time sucker that I referenced with the act of weeding though peoples posts to see something that i actually gave a rats ass about. I do care about my real friends out there and they know who they are but with FB, the act of confirmation of ones friendship made it easy. Yet, too easy that our lives and culture have changed in the blink of an eye in the unproductive bad habit route that i have found to be not for me.
    I know people appreciate my posts and I do like to randomly photograph my time and place and show it. I will try to do this on my own website to keep a little blood flowing to the outside.
    I enjoy this dialogue and like your comments. We can be friends forever without leaning on Facebook to do the dirty work for us.

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  12. Man, you are so right. Makes sense for you in particular. No doubt. It's like TV. I always smile when someone hangs the "KILL YOUR TV" sign out their window and wish I could do that! I am a TV addict. I am a computer addict (weak) ... albeit the connections with friends and family that I would otherwise not have, but I do look forward to seeing you post stuff on your website.

    Represent fucker!

    xo

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  13. Erik.... I'll cruise by your site regularly, because I will love seeing what you are up to, oh gifted and talented one.

    I love all the comments here. Social media is here to stay, and can be what we each make of it. Or not. And isn't it cool that we have the choice?

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  14. Well, I certainly love all the comments too:)

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