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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heartbreak & Joy via Facebook

I know that over the last couple of years I have vehemently voiced my displeasure with the mass exodus of blogger friends to Facebook. I dug my heels in for as long as I could, but found myself a bit lonely in the Blogosphere. Longing for the company of like-minded people once again, I gave in. Probably, much to the displeasure of the majority of my offspring. Kids, no matter what age, really don't much care for the company of their parents on Facebook.

There is still so much about Facebook that I dislike and probably always will. First and foremost is that I even feel the draw to be a part of that community. It makes me feel even more needy than I did in what I now call the "simple life" of the Blogosphere. Also, it is so fast-paced, that much is missed. The "leisurely" pace of the humble blog is a joy of the past. I loved having my coffee and sitting down to "visit". Blogs made you feel that somewhere, out there, someone was really listening and paying attention. It was like a conversation from afar. It felt good, and heartwarming, and even if the subject of someone's post wasn't a "warm fuzzy", you still felt like you were actually WITH a friend. Clearly, not many people seem to feel the same way I do, because blogs go untouched and unvisited for months at a time. I am very much guilty of this. Blogs have become that "Dead Mall" that I wrote about a few months ago. Replaced by the non-stop, ever-scrolling madness that is Facebook, and now Google +.

It isn't a new phenomenon of course, but it is one that carries with it a great deal of emotion. I've learned that I care TOO DAMN MUCH. I have also watched those around me and the level of fervor that these social networks elicit. Without trying to or meaning to, you can cause an enormous amount of hurt. I've learned the hard way. I measure and weigh every word that begins in my brain, goes through my heart, runs into my fingers to my keyboard, and ends on this page. I do my very best to keep a kind of Hippocratic Oath of the Internet; "First; do no harm." Especially as it pertains to family. It is sometimes, unfortunate for me on both ends of the spectrum because not everyone practices this AND, as I have been told numerous times, I am TOO sensitive. I take things TOO personally. As much care as I put in, I am not often the recipient of the same amount of care. People whom you were once very close to in the blog world, pretend that they don't know you in the Facebook world. Where you were once a welcomed visitor to their blogs, you now go to visit only to find they have closed it. I understand the need for privacy, I really do. But if you ask to join their reader list, and they do not respond, then what are you to think? What did I do? How did I offend? Did I even do anything at all? I'm learning to cope with that and it IS a daily process.

Something happened this week that really brought all of this to bear. It really made me think on this Facebook thing. I have already "weaned" myself from a few groups on Facebook, knowing that whether people mean to or not, they cause pain. Or to be more succinct, they are oblivious to how their words and actions hurt. I am trying to come to grips with the fact that, as my kids often remind me, that this isn't about me. But so many times, I wonder, where are people's hearts? Where are their minds? I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is really another forum for people to emotionally bully people and make others feel isolated. I almost believe it to be evil from its inception. Yes, perhaps I am being a bit dramatic, but aside from having the ability to keep in contact with family far away, I find myself wondering why I feel the need or want to belong. That's really the bottom line. A sense of belonging. But to what end?

On Monday, friends of ours became grandparents for the very first time. They didn't know. Until my friend's sister called her to congratulate her. She asked what her sister was congratulating her for, to which her sister replied; "The baby. I saw the pictures on Facebook." My friend doesn't have a Facebook account, so she didn't know that her daughter had given birth a month early. She was devastated. No phone call from her daughter or son-in-law. Yet they had enough time and put in enough effort to post on Facebook.
I honestly cannot stop thinking about it. If one of my children ever did that to me, that would be the ultimate heartbreak.

It is a fine line we walk in the social network. Right now, for this reason, and so many others, I feel a little shaky on the tightwire and I'm not really sure I want to continue.