There are things I love about social media, not the least of which is the extent to which it feeds my need for attention. Sometimes that same narcissism is the foundation of one of the reasons I DON’T like social media: it occasionally makes me confront the fact that I need to be liked, and come to grips with how much it bugs me when I’m not.
I love the friendships I’ve rekindled on Facebook. I had no idea I’d ever reconnect with so many ex-boyfriends outside of a drunk dialing marathon. There are several acquaintances I’m happy to get to know better, and friends from the past I’ve missed dearly.
I’ll not pretend to be one of those people who doesn’t check her Facebook account several times a day. I don’t have a water cooler at which to hang out and find out what’s going on.
To all of you who like to rave: “ooh, Facebook, who has time for all that nonsense? Who cares what you had for dinner or what your cat threw up?” Whatever. I love it. The pictures of the toll-painted holiday crafts, the announcements of who read what fan-mag article, the restaurant where you enjoyed lunch. the pithy quote from Yogi Berra, the not so pithy quote from your kid. Bring it on. I’ll read it. Maybe twice.
I’ll sometimes block content that I feel is too political (rare) or offensive (even more rare), but for the most part, friends contributing to my news feed provide a refreshingly broad array of perspectives and insights – sometimes droll, sometimes funny, sometimes just a blur of color as I scroll quickly by.
Then there’s Casey. In the 9th grade, Casey and I were briefly an item, but only in the academic sense, meaning there was no kissing, a little hand-holding, and daily notes passed when we walked to fifth period. Casey was tall, with a gigantic Adam’s apple. He played the trumpet, or trombone, or some wind instrument that has a spit valve. He shared my affinity for unicorns and called every evening at exactly 7:00 pm for a 20 minute chat. That is all I remember about our relationship – that and the fact that I broke up with him in one of my pre-5th period notes.
When we reconnected on Facebook some 25 years later, I was happy to learn that he had a successful career as a music professor at a local private college, and had a wife and three children.
He also was a strident evangelical libertarian, and was the most vociferous of all my Facebook friends in his posts. Aside from quoting some of the most gloomy scripture I’d ever read, he didn’t say anything patently offensive. He also appreciated the humor in my status updates – especially those about my habit of sending the kids off to school while covering Barbara Streisand classics in my fuzzy white robe and slippers from our porch. Casey liked Babs, apparently.
Then one day the stream of hell-fire stopped abruptly. Casey had “unfriended” me.
Me: funny, irreverent, careful to screen out anything remotely depressing, negative or political. Me.
Casey: angry, Ron Paul supporting, pro-gun, pro-hell-and-damnation with a gigantic Adam’s apple. Casey.
Casey. Unfriended. Me.
My discovery of this kicked off an afternoon of forensic Facebooking the likes of which I had no time for. What in my funny, trite posts had offended Casey? Was he trying to get back at me for 9th grade? Didn’t I even warrant the courtesy of a note?
Since, as I’ve said, Casey had been kind enough to comment on many of my posts, I could go back through my news feed and more or less find where his feedback had ended abruptly.
Early this summer I posted a picture of a young musician playing on a park stage during an outdoor music festival. He had the kind of long blonde “do” that my friends and I used to swoon over while watching videos of White Snake on MTV. The photo I posted of him I had captioned “yum.”
Classy, huh? But not as much as the photo I was going for, which would have framed him beyond the large micro brew in my hand, with my painted toes on bare feet stretched out in the grass. My little phone wasn’t able to capture that particular scene.
Commenting on this cute musician was something that I thought would illicit comments from friends my age who had either swooned over long-haired hooligans or been swooned over because of the length of their locks. After a couple of beers, this seemed like a fun conversation starter.
A note on drinking and posting: Ever since I’d had the opportunity to rethink one of my more ill-timed and snarky comments about children in the Gifted and Talented Program (which mine aren’t), the morning after I’d made it on Facebook, I resolved to avoid publicly airing grievances after imbibing. My judgement is terrible after a couple of beers, and I hate making public apologies. I’d sworn off drinking and posting, until this incident.
So, here I am. Minus one less Facebook friend. I don’t know if I’m more intrigued by the irony of being shunned by the purveyor of the Prince of Peace, or irked because his threshold for taking offense is so low.
I’m also kind of sad because there is now one less person out there waiting to hear about my latest Funny Girl impression.