Carol Scudder

Open To Stuff....

No. It's not like "face to face" - sheesh! (Facebook series - part 1)

And now - I shall vent.
But does "venting" mean I'm "angry"? -- I don't feel angry. (To vent) 
So maybe I'm just "sharing"(To share)
Though I do admit that I feel a groan coming on, followed closely by an eye roll, so, take it as you wish.
Let's talk about Facebook.
"OH crap!!" "Argh!" "It's SO shallow." "HUGE waste of time!" "SO fake!" "They're not "real" friends." "SUPER LAME  replacement for face to face contact!"
I've been hearing this sort of thing since I joined the Facebook - way back in 2008. (I like calling it "the Facebook" - it amuses me, don't know why. )
So I've been hearing this - and finding it to be ... what ... annoying? Tedious? Whiny even? All of the above - and I also find it to be untrue.
Let's start with "lame replacement for face to face contact".
Comparing the Facebook with the Face to Face is like comparing airplanes with cars.  As in: Flying sucks! I can't see any of the "roadside attractions" between NY (where I live now) and NC (where I'm from). Well - yes - that's true.
If one wants to see roadside attractions then one ought to drive there. Preferably opting for local roads. You'll see way more stuff. Horses, cows, truck stops, maybe a Reptile House/Chicken Shack - any number of potentially cool or funky things. Or - maybe you want to "just get there"- in under two hours - so - you'll fly. Or - maybe you've got to take a U-Haul with a bunch of stuff down - so you're driving, but you don't want to dawdle, so you'll take the highway, which also limits sitings of roadside attractions.
Is any one method really better than the other? Or is the best way to get from NY to NC the way that best meets your needs at that time?
Now - would I rather take a walk, grab a glass, share a meal, and so on, with my closest friends, or even my favorite "casual" friends or acquaintances? Sure. Of course I would. Would I rather run into them on the street and have a great conversation spontaneously? Sure! (if I have time) I love it when that happens.
But because I love that - is all other contact, including that on the Facebook rendered "lame" "fake" - and "shallow" ?
Why? Why would that be true? Are cars lame because they're not as fast as airplanes? Are airplanes lame because they go so fast (high too!) you'll never see the roadside Reptile House/Chicken Shack? (or cows and horses) Isn't it all - how you say - relative?
I have had wonderful interactions with people - often unexpectedly - on the Facebook. I've gotten to know some people better, including people I didn't know well or hardly at all before. Do I know them "completely" now? No. Are we going to spend major holidays together now? No. Are they my "best and truest friends"? No.
But I know, now, that they love to cook. I know what their child looks like, or at least that they've got one. I know they're into a certain kind of jazz or that they play the harpsichord or that they're descended from a famous Civil War General or that they lived 2 years in the Phillapines. Do I need to know these things? No. But I enjoy it. It enriches my understanding of these people - new friends, old friends, and everything in between. And reminds me that the world is a rich place and that people are multi-layered and not as easy to "box and label" as we might think.
And then there's this. My husband and I have had several friends who've had serious illnesses - or recently lost parents, pets, or others in the "loved ones" category. Facebook has allowed us to stay "in the loop" as to what's happening with them. They can know we're thinking of them - we can send messages of encouragement, publicly or privately-  or even helpful information if it seems appropriate, about organizations, stress relievers, our own personal experience with said illness. We've had friends who've gotten married, had babies, moved or started school - friends that run in different circles now, but that we want to stay in touch with, but with whom it would be overwhelming to send individual emails or letters to all the time. We wouldn't do it. They wouldn't do it. It would be crazy to try. But we can still be part of the experience they've just had, in at least an adjacent way, thanks to the virtual village that is the Facebook. There is comfort in that. And that comfort is not "undone" by the various annoyances (LOL? Hate that - and all related Facebook acronyms)  any more than the occasional travel issue would make us refuse to ever leave the house again. Man up people! Nothing. Is. Without. The occasional hitch! And just like cake - it won't make you fat unless you eat too much of it. Oui?