I’m not knocking it, Facebook that is. Of course I like faces, and I’m very fond of friends. But I’ve just de-activated my account on that great worldwide “hold hands around the campfire” site, because I am totally convinced that Facebook is not for me.
I joined Facebook a few weeks ago, inspired by our son Eric who said: “Mom, you should do Facebook just to see the precious pictures of your great-grandchildren. I love photos, and my great-grandchildren are indeed precious as well as highly photogenic—as you can see from the 4 faces (4 of 15!) pictured above.
So I did. I signed on—creating yet one more password based on the cuteness of Pembroke Welsh corgis. What a shock I received when I “arrived” on Facebook and discovered a raft of individuals evidently just floating around, waiting to be my “friend”! I knew most of these folks, and I’d really thought they already were my friends. But then there were some I didn’t recognize. I guess they were friends of my friends.
Over the ensuing weeks, I kept getting emails saying “So and so wants to be your friend.” Not wishing to be offensive, I accepted these people—again, most of whom already were my friends plus some relatives who are also friends. Trying to get in the proverbial swim, I even asked some people if they would be my friend!
A corker was one email I received, containing a long list of unknowns who wanted to be my friend because—like me—they’d attended Colorado U. at Boulder. I wonder if they had any idea I’d ”been there, done that” way back in 1951-1952!
Then I got an email asking me if I would receive a hug from a young friend. Now this person is very special to me, and if I were to run into her at the supermarket or anywhere else, I’d certainly give her a huge hug. But a cyber hug? I didn’t know how to do that. Anyway, again being my pleasant (most of the time) self, I agreed to the hug. I had to access Facebook to do this, and behold—I was confronted with a string of names and the caption, “Would you like to give these people hugs?” Is that silly, or what?
One day I decided to use the Facebook facility for one purpose which is tremendously useful: that of locating a long lost friend with whom one has completely lost touch. I entered the name of a friend from the late 1940s and early ’50s. This young man had been born in the USA so he was an American citizen. But he was raised in Switzerland by his Swiss parents, and then returned to the USA during his high school years. He had a distinctly German Swiss name. All Joe and I knew, after last seeing him, was that he’d joined the air force during the Korean war and finally settled somewhere over the rainbow in California.
I entered the man’s first name (Hans) along with his last name (___________________) and up came a page of men with that name. One of them was about the age that our friend Hans would be. The Facebook Hans was pictured with his smiling wife. Indeed it was a Germanic type face, but much different from that of the Hans I remembered. Our Hans was tall and angular with deep set, brooding eyes. The Facebook Hans had a full, jolly face. He looked more like a knackwurst and beer-garden Hans.
How much can people change in 60 years? A lot, I thought. Maybe the smiling wife had something to do with Hans turning plump and jolly. So I clicked the box asking Hans if he would be a friend of Margaret Been. Somehow, I then meandered to a page where this Hans’s activities and other friends were listed. That page was all in German, and so were all of Hans’s jolly friends.
Ooops! Our Hans would have been all in English. As a young adult he’d refused to return to Switzerland to claim Swiss citizenship. He’d chosen to be an American! I have to grin when I think of the Teutonic Facebook Hans wondering who in the world is this American woman who wants to be his friend! As far as I know, I never did strike up a relationship with him!
Finally, there was a place at the bottom of the page where one could click on info about more people with the name “Hans ____________________.” I clicked, and alas. Our Hans came up on the top of a GOOGLE page—or rather his obituary came up.
The obit ran true down to every detail we’d known of him until we’d lost touch, and the remaining information fit. Hans died in 2007, of a rare cancer. The rest of my day was poignant. I mourned the loss of a person I hadn’t seen in decades. Circuitously Facebook had made the connection.
After all of that, and a few more forays to see those darling great-grandchildren’s photos, it dawned on me that I simply don’t have time for Facebook—as efficacious as it may be for many people. I see the great-grandchildren in person! I have photos of them, given to me by their parents! I take snapshots myself!
Blogging and shopping comprise all the time I want to spend staring at a monitor! So, late last night, I de-activated my account. The screen indicated that many hearts would be broken because I was leaving. “Your friends will miss you,” Facebook said. As if that were not enough to germinate a guilt trip for turning my back on all these friends, I then had to give an excuse for leaving.
All my life I’ve taught children never to make excuses. “Just say yes or no”, I’ve said to the little people in my life. But that wasn’t enough for Facebook. Facebook was so smitten with me that I had to give a reason before it would let me go!
Whew! Now if any of you Facebook buddies happen to be reading this, PLEASE know that you are still my friend. Email me. Snailmail me. Call on the phone, or just drop in! I’ll give you a hug! You know where I live—as well as where I went to college, etc. Please stay in touch!
But if you look for me on Facebook, you won’t find me—or my face. I’m outta there!
Margaret L. Been ©2011
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