Thursday, January 16, 2014

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, She Loves Me...

This describes perfectly my relationship with Facebook.  

I'm on my third page with...I've lost count of the screen names, my own twice, Inne Cogneeto and Pham Ili.  I was attempting to go incognito with Inne Cogneeto and my 26-year-old son told me Pham Ili, get it--family--was a bit ridiculous, that people realized who I was.  It was my effort at keeping a page limited to family members.    

My latest evolution on Facebook is trying to keep the people on the friends' list to relatives and closer friends, whereas in two previous pages, it was an ongoing virtual reunion of my childhood neighborhood and my high school. The childhood neighborhood, I relished that reunion.  The high school one--not so much.  

I still am delighted every time I see someone from the "old neighborhood" and exchange Christmas cards with a number of them to this day.  The Facebook high school reunion was a little odd at first because people who once didn't have the time of day for me, let alone a hello in the hall, were, after thirty years, my friends.  And in full disclosure, I was once confronted about that myself.  For the record, I didn't remember high-hatting the man in high school, I told him I was sorry, and I was happy to see and talk to him now.   I realize the short explanation for that is we grew up, and that's a good thing.

What wasn't so good was the day I posted about my stance on issues regarding the homosexual community, I disagreed with the hate the Westboro Baptist types spewed, (and I detest that they tarnish the name of good Baptists) but I agreed with the Bible, that the relationships are not ordained of God.  No one turned on me, but two classmates, incidentally a couple I had seen in recent years, turned on each other and virtual fists were swinging for two days.  

The second day, I deactivated the account, deciding that perpetual class reunions weren't such a good idea, especially considering I'd not bothered going to my real ones.  Many folks agreed with my stance, which I intended to be bridge-building yet not denying core beliefs, but the fallout that happened when two people disagreed vehemently wasn't worth it.  I vowed I wouldn't host something like that again.   

I've unplugged from Facebook twice, once for a year, another time for two years.  And in a technicality, from the page where almost everyone I'd ever met in my half century life was my Facebook friend, it's been over a year-and-a-half since deactivating that page.  There is overlap between leaving the fallout page and creating one for closer friends and family.  

My current page has 87 friends and family members, I'm not trying to drive that number higher, and it just dawned on me that the three people on the "face" of this earth I'd call if/when my world was falling apart don't have a Facebook account.  The last three women I had lunch with, one of the aforementioned close friends, and two more, also do not have Facebook pages.

I realize I'm overthinking Facebook, but I'm 50 years old, a former SAHM, now a SAHW, kids are grown and launched, so I have time to think.  I'm a word nerd and I recently ran across a word which spoke to me, integrous, rooted in the same Latin from which we get integrity.  The context in which the author used "integrous" was being the same inside and out, something I think requires integrity to do, but it can also get one in a bit of trouble.  

Someone with whom I'd had a strained relationship sent a friend request, I accepted without careful consideration, and the inevitable happened, but not on Facebook for all eighty-something of my friends and family to see--I told the person privately how I felt about repeated infractions which drove a wedge in a number of relationships.  I "unfriended" this person in my need to be integrous, then I was blocked by this person, apparently indignant I'd address hurtful behavior privately rather than play friends publicly.  My honest reaction to being blocked was a chuckle, the absurdity of two people in our age range communicating in this juvenile manner.

The disagreement is not entirely my point.  My point is I want any time I spend online to be pleasant.  I'm not one to moan about being old, though I'm getting there and I do marvel at the speed of life, but I'm old enough to desire some drama free zones.  Can I keep this area of my life positive, productive and upbeat?--the way I'd prefer the life I live in this warm flesh as opposed to plastic keyboard and untouchable screen.  (I realize iPads and iPhones defy the latter comparison.)  That said, I've not won any popularity contests in person by my willingness to take one by the lapels when their behavior infringes on my peace.  Or as my late brother once said of himself, "I'm just dammit me."     

I want to be integrous in my online relationships.  If we're Facebook friends, I want to be comfortable enough to give or receive a telephone call, have lunch, or at least enjoy a visit once a year at family reunions.

Family is what keeps drawing me back to Facebook.  In the last several years, I've had a niece move to Italy, a son and his girlfriend move to Colorado, a nephew to Illinois, and my honorary granddaughter to Texas, all places which, to spin Jerry Clower a little, (if you know who he is, I know how old you are) "When you live in Valdosta, Georgia, you don't just drop by Italy, Colorado, Illinois or Texas."  

I want to see my niece's babies and my honorary granddaughter grow, my son climbing mountains, the places he and his girlfriend visit, and my nephew's photographs of banks of snow in contrast to the ponds, lakes, rivers and ditches filled with water of his childhood home.  I've enjoyed reconnecting with a branch of my family tree from my maternal grandmother, the DeLoaches.  I was delighted when, on the last deactivated page, the page following the one I deleted outright, my older son's girlfriend, now wife, sent me a friend request.  

It was a given we were destined to be family, but that she would associate with me online was heartwarming.  She gives great gifts, too, though that's not why I love her--it's the thoughtfulness and observation behind them that touches me.  Give a book worm a journal and her very first Vera Bradley (almost typed Vera Wang to show you how familiar I am with designers) bag to put her books in...that's a girl after my heart!  

I realize I took a bunny trail, but at my age and on my blog I can do that.  I am very proud of my daughter-in-love.  Older son said I shouldn't say that either, but daughter-in-law sounds so legalistic, so mandatory.  I love her and who she is to my son, so daughter-in-love it is.  Bunny trail finished.

There are a number of people on the pages I deleted and deactivated who I miss catching up with online, but rarely saw in person.  In person, there's the clincher.  I am old enough I still desire in person visits more than virtual ones and realistic enough to recognize I teeter between two worlds. I realize virtual is as good as it can be in a number of far-flung relationships, but when the knowledge one has more of their life lived behind them than ahead of them, it's quality, not quantity that counts.  I've had hundreds of Facebook friends and maybe that stoked and stroked the ego, but what I really want is to have someone over for soup and sandwiches or meet them for lunch.  

I don't want to go shopping with you, though.  I'm a lone ranger in that department.  I know what I need, seek it out like a mission, then go home. Another bunny trail, but it leads to home, where my heart is.    

Home is where the front porch swing at the top of this blog is, a place I enjoy visiting with someone more than anywhere else in the world.  When Baby Boy was home over the Christmas holidays, he talked a lot more with me out there than he does on Facebook.  The day he left for Colorado, his girlfriend, who remained behind to finish nursing school, and I sat on rockers...and cried and talked and cried and talked.  The conversations were real, the pictures of us aren't on Facebook, no one clicked like on them, and they can't be edited.  

They will, however, be treasured forevermore in my heart.

I also treasure the online conversations with a classmate who died shortly before Christmas.  For shut-ins, Facebook is a godsend.  I'm not shut in, though, and I don't want to let a computer website cause me to be one, connecting without touching, preferring the ease of online convenience to the effort it takes to see someone in person.  But there are those friends I've met in FlyLady and Proverbs 31 online groups, from all over the United States and even Scotland whom I wish to stay in contact with.    

Facebook, I love you, I love you not.  I abandon you from time-to-time, but manage to find my way back for a season, until it's time for us to go on another break.