WARNING: This is a long post. It just is. I clearly have some things to say about Facebook… and brevity was not an option. You’ve been warned. I’ve been working on this for a while, in my head… today it just came busting out. See it as a weekend long read. Do check out some of the links. There are several that are different links, for the same word. Some are funny, some are interesting, some might bore you… but links are something I like.
I’ve had Facebook on the brain a lot lately. That may be because I’ve been spending waaay too much time on it. Or because lots of my friends are pissy about FB lately, too. Or because, (I’m not admitting this, just suggesting) Facebook has become something like heroin to me and my addiction is out of control. Small blessings: I don’t appear to be alone in my frustrations (misery does love company), or addiction, as it is a topic that seems to come up nearly every day now. I’m sure that if I looked around, I might find a group that starts with “Hi, my name is Dawn and I’m a Facebook junky.” One thing is for sure, I am not a teenager and I do not adjust to all the changes that those youngins at FB seem to find so much glee in creating. In my paranoid-narcissistic daydreams, I am somewhat convinced that the mostly young minds at Facebook headquarters sit around and say things like: “Hey! If we change all the settings next week, and don’t tell them, anyone over 35 won’t even notice!” Or, “Hey! I bet they’ve all gotten used to this format. Let’s switch it up completely, and really mess with their heads! Man, imagine how all those old folks will feel when their friends can just say they were at such and such bar, even if they weren’t! They’ll never figure out the new security settings!” Or, the worst yet: “Hey! (I imagine all those young think tank people start every sentence with a youthful Hey!)… Hey! Let’s change their entire Facebook page to this new thing called Timeline, without even telling them, and see what they do. We’ll just make it a preview, so they can play with it… it will be like slipping them some acid, and then watching them try to climb their own walls!” And then, the bastards probably all share a good “Mwhahaha!” (click link to enter my scary, paranoid, Michael Jacksonesque world of sound)
Well let me tell you something Facebook: This old dog does NOT like new tricks!
I’ll start with the addiction part: Facebook has become an addiction that seems to follow me wherever I go! If I have lunch with a friend, one or both of us is bound to say: “I saw on Facebook,” or “did you see… FB,” or “they posted it on FB…” more than once, no matter the topic. It’s a venue that has come to include gossip, social awareness, celebrations, current events, and pretty much anything else you can think of. It just seems lately, like Facebook has taken too much of life’s daily events, and made them all online happenings. When Principessa took a break from FB for the entire winter break, I found myself exasperated that I couldn’t send her the usual cute/interesting/informative/helpful things I usually send her; and it really bugged me. Never mind that she was staying right in the same house, or, as she reminded me: “I still have an email you know!” It bugged me that I couldn’t say Shabbat Shalom each Friday, on her wall. It’s become something I do, like kissing her goodnight when she was little, that was hard to just let go of… For a month, no Shabbat Shalom on her wall!
We say Happy Birthday on Facebook; Congratulations; Thanks; we’re on vacation here ___; I’ve moved; I’m engaged; I’m married; we’re having a baby; here’s the baby; my kid has the best grades; sorry for your loss; party at ___; you’re invited…you’re not; we/they/I did such and such with so and so (you didn’t); look how much fun we’re having; I’m eating ___; do you want to have lunch/dinner/etc.; how are you? And heavens’ forbid, you miss the invitation on Facebook, and then miss the lunch/dinner/etc, because Facebook has replaced the phone, the birth announcement, the birthday card, the condolence card, the thank you note… the PEOPLE. All of these thing are now shared with everyone of your Facebook “friends,” who somehow, in the process (and in my opinion) stop being people, a little bit. There is a false sense of intimacy which I find interesting, fun, comforting, disheartening, confusing, disappointing, and a whole bunch of other things.
I admit, I’m part of it; I depend on FB far too much lately. It’s both good and bad… sometimes evil. I find myself looking at pictures of what other people are doing together and feeling disappointed that I’m not in the picture, even if I know I shouldn’t be. I say Happy Birthday to people whose birthdays I would never have known, because we’re not close… and forget to send cards to people I’m close with, because I rely on Facebook to remind me of the date. I remember my kids’, my close family member’s, but for those I forget, pretty much everyone (except a few odd duck friends, wink wink) are on Facebook and FB will remind me that it’s their birthday, so that I can shoot off a cheery greeting and not be that lousy friend/aunt/cousin/ who forgot. I can weigh in on new curtains, new puppies, new hair cuts, vacations, events I missed (or wasn’t invited to anyway), support causes… all without doing, really Anything… aside from hitting a like link, or tying a few quick words.
Let’s be real here: much of it is superficial and lazy. It’s so much easier to hit a like link, or share link about supporting gay marriage, no coal trains (locally), religious causes, political agendas, and all the formerly personal things mentioned above. Why pay $3.99 for a birthday card, condolence card, miss you, congratulations, holiday, card… if you can simply type the words on someone’s wall and feel good about your efforts? You can be a Liberal, a Conservative, a Racist, a Friend, a Lover, a Part of It, pretty much anything… by hitting a link on Facebook, typing a few lines in your Status, or hitting a thumbs up sign or Like, on anyone’s wall. But how often do we stop and ask ourselves: If I had to show up at a meeting and raise my hand, or actually say the words aloud, or stand side by side with a homosexual, a friend who’s sick, a homeless person, someone with a disease, etc, would you? Would I? Have I? For me, it’s a sobering thought, because I think I’m sitting here reading it all on line, far more than I’m out doing most of it.
I for one love getting mail. I miss getting real birthday cards. I like phone calls (I’m not a good texter). I have kept and re-read every thoughtful condolence card I got from so many kind people, after my mother died a month ago (yes, still counting: four weeks tomorrow)… but honestly, I did not go back and note who said “I’m sorry” when I posted my mother’s death. Frankly, it was weird posting her death… my point exactly. But, I knew that so many friends and relatives, near and afar were waiting for word. I was grateful to only need to make a few crucial calls. Afterwards, I was spiraling in a dark place for a couple of weeks, and it was the mail: the hard copy notes and cards, that touched me most. The phone calls, with a human voice saying “I’m sorry,” that helped me move through the grief. Of course, I appreciate that lots of people sent me birthday hellos on line, and condolences on my wall, and ultimately I appreciated each one. But, the hard copy ones are so much more tangible. The friends who sent books, when I was sitting alone with my mother, had me grinning from ear to ear, even when they were books about loss. How wonderful to find a package, a card, a note in the mailbox. Back in the “old days,” I remember I didn’t always take the time to read my birthday cards, but now they seem so much more precious. How often do people count on the internet (in fairness, it isn’t entirely Facebook’s issue; but I’m pissed with them today, and it’s my party…) or a Facebook announcement to invite people to a gathering or event, and not bother to phone, just in case we’re not all junkies who check hourly. I’ve missed several potential lunch/dinner/movie dates with friends, because they sent only an email, and I didn’t see it in time.
“Do as I say, not as I do.” It’s so easy to type all of this and share my idealistic views; but in reality, I am a junky. I come home from anywhere, and within a set (limited) amount of time, I am checking my FB messages, the notifications (often of people I predominantly see on line, and rarely see in public), the emails that have come in, or my blog stats. When I’m out, and I have to wait for something, I rarely bring a book anymore; I can check up on all the afore mentioned things on my “smart phone.” The word “unplugged” is scary to me; though I admire those who do it. I don’t do it very often, or very well. I’m hypocritically aware that when I yell “enough screen time” to my three teens, I’m often in front of my own screen. I can justify a certain amount of extra screen time lately, as I was working on writing and editing the manuscript for months, and I try very hard to keep my blog up to date and post regularly. Some posts take an hour, and others take many hours. Today for instance, it took me forever just to edit the photos on this page. I tried using Photo booth to edit out names and personal info from the photos, but then the quality of the images went way down. In the end, I had to use dry erase markers all over our family Mac, combined with post-its and tape. Luckily, Smart Guy (the new moniker for Hubby. His former on screen name never really fit him, or me) is away for the weekend. Watching me draw all over our computer screen would have caused much ado about nothing! (So, if you’re reading this now Smart Guy, the screen is cleaner than it’s been in months!) I am not tech dog. I am an old, junky dog.
So, the New Trick: Well, much to my horror and frankly, mental undoing, I came home from my book group reunion last night and my Facebook page was completely changed. No notice, no warning, just a big, fat shove down the Rabbit Hole. Our book group of nine years disbanded three months ago and we all decided to get together and do what we do, but a little differently. We brought all the usual yummy pot luck things we bring, but this time we just shared books that we’ve been reading on our own. Freeform, with food. I drank nothing, nothing people, but water! I was stone, cold sober when I got home, cleaned up some messes and then went directly to my computer. (The cleaning up messes was my way of proving that I don’t need to go directly-directly to the computer) I clicked on my FB wall and POW! Instant acid trip. Instant world upside down. Instant “What the hell is this?!!” Facebook, in all it’s wisdom and let’s mess with the old dog’s head mentality, had switched me over to their new Timeline (good info link, btw) format. Just. Like. That. Well, actually, they kindly informed me (to mess with my head even more!) that only I could see it, not my friends. (Did I mention tripping? Seeing things that no one else can see?) They are giving me the opportunity to look at it and get used to it, and then I can choose to switch over, or… Well, or they will make me do it on February 2nd anyway. I’m sorry Facebook, but Tony Soprano might as well have delivered that message. Seriously, read that message: it’s a direct threat! Do it, or we’ll do it for you! Frankly, in the super paranoid state that I was thrust into (seriously, if you come home and your computer tells you that only you can see what you’re seeing, but it’s real… what else is there but paranoia?) I had to wonder if those young
dickheads geniuses at Facebook actually targeted me, because I’m one year away from 50… and because they keep track of my birthday (while my nieces, nephews, sister/brother in laws, children don’t)… and they knew that I was already on the edge of a mid-life crisis. Or, were they keenly aware that I am a junky, and they’re switching up the drug, to make me need them more? What better way to push me over the edge than to switch around my whole on line world, and then tell me that only I can see that it’s there? (It’s a lie! I do not actually live on these items. ^^)
<— Do you see how big Dolly’s image is here… you thought I was gonna say something else, didn’t you? wink. wink. If you look closely, smaller than Dolly, you will see the good causes I believe in too. Some of them, I actually leave the house for.
I could not go to bed. How could I just turn it off and sleep, with Smart Guy away and the sudden upheaval of my social networking world turned all upside down and sideways and bolder and out of order and distorted and frankly, looking like a hoarder’s dream? It is all of those things people, I kid you not! For instance, how did the FB engineers determine that one stupid posting, by my brilliant daughter, about Dolly Parton was somehow worthy of expanding and making it VERY big on my new Timeline page? I am not a Dolly Parton fan. Neither is my daughter. As I said, brilliant: shoe posted it, just to make a political statement, but see if I’d get it first (I did). I did not delete the post, so as not to hurt my girl’s feelings, but now IF you could actually see my wall, you’d think that I am a huge Dolly singing about Jesus fan. I am not. You would also think that I spend hours on Pinterest and that I am following a whole bunch of people, that for the record: I have never, ever checked out. I simply Googled Pinterest last night, because my book group friends told me I must (and a blog follower told me they were going to post my blog on there) and this morning, you would think that I had checked out all kinds of things on there. I did not. If you scroll down far enough, you can see that the death of Sarah Burke (touching video here), is clearly dwarfed by my illustrious addition to my 14 year old niece’s Tag a Friend poster (I’m the one that loves her…which I do, Facebook says so). If you scroll a little further, what was meant as a joke now looks like I only drink Ruby Red Vodka and only eat Ritz and Cheez-Its. I deny that. It may be partially true, but it is not as true as it appears on my new Timeline.
I hate you Timeline! I hate that you mis-represent me; albeit only to myself for now… when I go to my own wall… but you know what I mean. I hate that you sanctimonious, Sillicon Valley (I prefer to ignore that some of them are actually here, in Seattle, where I love living), techno-geek, wiz kids think you can get us all on board (I didn’t even know what Facebook was a few short years ago) and then just keep dumping the boat over, demanding that we swim along, or sleep with the fishes. (Ok, the Tony Soprano thing is clearly a theme here).
All the genius, that I’m so pissed of with today, is not entirely lost on me. I can also admit that I’m impressed and amazed by the Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniaks, Mark Zuckerbergs, Sergey Brins, Bill Gates, Jimmy Gales (could not live without Jimmy), and countless other brilliant minds who have brought us willingly or not so willingly into this amazing tech world that we now live in. I love that I can share news and info with family and friends all over. There is no doubt that my 30th High School reunion last August, was much better because of the pre-reunion group we had on Facebook (read: Friend Me). I’ll say it again, that reunion started way before the actual August 6th party, and has kept going because of our “page.” People who hadn’t hung out with each other, did. Classmates were open to making new friends, long after we’d all established very different lives. It was wicked fun. I love that I can see my niece’s and nephew’s plays, sports events, birthday parties, summer camp photos and hear that my friends and family are doing cool things… Facebook is not the Evil Empire (cue: my favorite ski music, Darth), but I don’t like being controlled, and this new Timeline thing feels like a big mafia style arm twisting. I feel like Mark Zuckerber slipped me a Roofie and now the whole room looks different, against my will. And frankly, looking at Mark Zuckerberg, that is just not right… he clearly looks like someone I could still ground. Just take a look at that face: clearly that is a child making me do what he wants. You are grounded Mark Zuckerberg! Go to your wall and ignore al notifications!
But, alas, I don’t stand a chance against the titans of the new world we’re living in. Yes, I hear you: Just quit Facebook. Don’t be their User. It’s too late folks. I actually am now the proud owner of two Facebook pages! Yep, my blog has a Page now too… so, in fact I am now a business owner on FB. A friend suggested that perhaps they sent me this trial Timeline page because I am in fact someone who brings in new business, via this blog! (Versus the: She’s an old dog, we’d better ease her into this gently theory) Yep, not only am I an addict, but it turns out that I am a Pusher, a Dealer, a Pimp… who uses their her own product. It’s the worst of the worst. My kids are convinced that I’m boring and lame, but they have no idea about this whole other dark side of me (Darth’s music, is my music people!)… I’m a junky-pimp-pusher-dealer-tripping-Alice down the Rabbit Hole-edgy woman, that’s “Yo Mama” to you kiddies! I may be lost on my Timeline, but I an in fact all of those things, if you read the small print… who just looks like an old dog stuck on a new trick.
So: now that you’ve stayed with me through this very long rant, tell me what you think? Do you have Timeline and do you like it? Do you find it as confusing and cluttered as I do? Does it seem like an over-stimulating hoarder’s nest to you too? Are you going to write to the Facebook powers that be and say something? I did. Of course, like everything they do, even your comments to them aren’t real. They assure you that someone is reading them, but me thinks that’s bogus. I’m sure they have a big @$$ Ignore button at Facebook headquarters, that allows all of our feedback to be promptly flushed. Mwhahah, look how many old people complained today! Flush. (I suppose that could be my paranoia setting in again, and some well meaning FB person is reading my comment right now, and running it down to Mark Z’s office to say: Hey! Mark, this lady has a good point. I think you’d better take a look at this. Or, do you not have this problem at all? Are you just reading some blogs on line, checking out the news, laughing at a few YouTube videos and wondering why all of us junkies are screaming foul? Share some comments here, or go over to my Tales from the Motherland Facebook page, and get a conversation going… come on, you know it will make you feel good. Just try a little.
Stop! Really. Read this. Please note: If you enjoy these posts hit “Like” and make me smile. It also helps my blog grow and that is the point. Go back and hit Like. Thanks. Then, be a good dooby and “Share” them with others; it’s nice to share. Better yet Like them; Share them and then do something nice for yourself: “Subscribe.” You won’t get any spam, you can sign up with an anonymous name (I won’t know who you are, unless you tell me), and you will get an email each time I post. Think of it as a free gift to yourself. You know you want to. Go ahead, make my day (sorry about the gun, but this is serious business).