Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

I remember being in 7th grade. Each home room had to elect a president at the beginning of the year (I think the major duty was carrying notes to the office), it was a scary time. The first year of middle school — just out of elementary school. There were many new kids from other schools that I didn’t know that well and I was separated from my usual crew of beautiful popular girls so I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I never really did well apart from my friends… I was the token dorky jock in the midst of the cool girls.

So, there, I found myself sitting in home room with kids I didn’t know, in a school that was new — hoping desperately not to be noticed while at the same time striving to fit in. The teacher called for nominations for president — silence, of course, was the answer he received. I remember looking down at my paper and doodling — wondering when the bell would ring to release me back out into the hallways and the comfort of my friends, then, a hand went up… “Becky”, they said, “I nominate Becky”.

“Yes!” I screamed in my mind while still doodling nonchalantly on my paper.

“I second it”, another voice said from behind me.

“Yes, yes, yes!” I screamed even louder in my head, “They like me, they really really like me!” But wait… I thought. I don’t even have any lollipops with notes attached that read — Vote For Becky! How could I win without those lollipops?

A few minutes later, it was official… I was the president of the dorks, the note carrier to the teacher in the room at the farthest end of the hall — and proud of it. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college.

Homecoming queen nominations were being sought — the fraternity that my sorority was paired with was going over possible nominations. I wasn’t paying attention because tradition had it that a senior officer in the sorority received the nomination. Then… I heard my name in the distance, “Punky”, I listened closely with all the hearing power of the bionic woman. “Punky would win”.

I tried desperately to pretend to be paying no attention to the talks in the adjoining room but let my imagination cling to that thought a little too long. I saw my picture on posters, I saw me sitting atop a convertible riding through the stadium, I saw me standing in the commons area passing out lollipops with little notes attached that read — Vote For Punky!, I saw… “No, it needs to be a senior”…


Fast forward to now. There’s a game on Twitter on Fridays called “Follow Friday”. The premise is, you send a “shout out” to the people you find funny and interesting and profound and mysterious (not necessarily in that order and not necessarily all in the same person), you tell others they should follow that person as well — a great big classroom presidential nomination.

I don’t participate too often, I always forget to give a “shout out” to someone and then I feel bad that I forgot them and then when I go back later to remember them it becomes very aware that I forgot them in the first place. The neuroses accompanied by Follow Fridays is complex. And… I think all of the people I follow are funny and interesting and dark and mysterious — that’s why I follow them in the first place.

But, still… I find myself checking in on Friday’s a little too obsessively, just to see. Once, maybe twice or 14 times — to see if I received any of those “shout-outs”, to see if they like me… if they really really like me. I think I should send a disclaimer each Friday morning that says, “I’m caught between not wanting to participate to avoid hurt feelings and desperately seeking a nod in my direction — also, I have lollipops.”

Classroom presidential nominations… homecoming queen nominations… follow Friday nominations… and of course, Facebook friend requests go in there somewhere as well. The yin and the yang, the ups and the downs… the virtual :::sigh:::

I think I’ll go check Twitter for those follow Friday’s, right after I look in on Facebook for new friend requests. But first, I’m going to finish getting ready to go out to dinner with a really nice person who knows nothing of Twitter or Facebook or the failed anticipation of a homecoming nomination. All he knows is I have a big bag of lollipops sitting on my kitchen counter.

Follow Friday, friend requests, or dinner dates? I’m pretty sure I know which one I like the best — maybe I’ll share my answer in a few hours. What about you?

In case you haven’t met her… let me introduce you to the next classroom president, the next homecoming queen, the next smash of Follow Friday and Facebook friend requests — this is the coolest of the cool girls.

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In Real Life…

I’ve been thinking about friends… how we meet, how we stay in touch, how we communicate, how we fight, how we make up, how we joke, how we laugh, how we let each other know that we love. I have many connections “in real life”. Friends I’ve known for long periods of time, friends I’ve known very briefly. I was trying to process the way in which we stay in touch. Is it face to face, is it by phone, is it by email or text or Facebook or twitter?

I actually opened my twitter account when my mother was in a hospice house nearing the end of her life (hospice can be a boring place, more on that later). I didn’t understand it and never looked at it — it seemed rather confusing. About four months later, I decided to give it a try again — still, it seemed confusing. But, I looked at it at least once a week and wrote little snippets in 140 characters or less. Then I began to connect with people and laugh and share stories. I would call it friendship.

One of the arguments I’ve heard about twitter and Facebook and texting or other forms of “hands-off” communication is that possibly, the people who communicate primarily this way have an inability to form “in real life” relationships. They have barriers that remain intact due to the lack of “hands-on” contact. That possibly, they lack the ability to form lasting quality relationships. The implication here was that I too was one of those people. So, I thought that maybe this was true. Possibly I was fooling myself into believing “in real life” connections inevitably could not form unless the primary mode of communication is “hands-on”. But, then that meant that not only was I flawed, many others were flawed too.

So, I investigated. I started looking at myself and the friendships I have. And to be perfectly honest, the relationships (mind you there aren’t many but they do exist) I’ve honed on twitter or Facebook have given me a power… a confidence to speak more freely with my “hands-on” friends. I speak to my friends on twitter or Facebook far more frequently than I do my friends I don’t share this connection with. All my friends are “in real life”. The one’s I get to actually sit down to a meal with or watch a movie with aren’t anymore real than the ones I talk with by email or text or twitter or Facebook.

I have a best friend that I’ve known for 36 years. We haven’t seen each other “in real life” in almost three years. We text more often than we talk on the phone. Yet, no one would question our friendship. No one would question the validity of it due to a lack of “hands-on” time.

So, I live “in real life”. I’m not sure where else you can live. And “in real life” I have many friends that I cherish. Many friends who shine a light on me. Many friends who I can sit with on a beach somewhere  and watch the waves and talk and be together — “in real life”.

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The age of social media has given me new access to friends and I love it. My friend Mark got me started on Facebook about a year and a half ago. He told me about all the friends with whom he had reconnected. So, after a short tutorial, there I was — full into the obsession of Facebook. Within about two weeks, I had “friended” all the kids with whom I had gone to high school (our 20th reunion had been the year before so this was perfect timing — I graduated high school in ’86, you can quit calculating it now). After that, I started working on the college friends. They were a little harder to find. But, pretty soon I became “friends” with the college kids too.

It’s so strange. Some of these people I hadn’t spoken with in over twenty years — and I would bet that I have more contact with some of my “friends” now, then I did back then. But, whatever the case, the new age of social media led me back to them. There was Emily — we were the best of friends in college but had lost touch with each other. And there was Louann — she and I were on the tennis team together in college and inseparable our freshman year. If it weren’t for Facebook, we would have continued to only remember each other and wonder what had become of our lives.

Now, there are downsides to Facebook. Sometimes the people you really had no intention of bringing back into your life are regurgitated up like a bad burrito. (I am probably this person to some of you — it’s ok, I can live with that.) But, we can wish each other a happy birthday, or grieve a loss together, or just say “hi” — at the push of a button. Now, I’m sure this isn’t as personable as it should be (what would Amy Vanderbilt say about this new age etiquette?). But, it is better than not knowing, isn’t it?

There’s also Twitter, a recently discovered obsession. It isn’t nearly as intimate as Facebook, but equally time-consuming to be sure. Twitter has given me new friends — 140 characters at a time. They are, most would say, complete strangers. But the reality is that I have laughed, shared recipes, and grieved with these “complete strangers”. Wouldn’t you agree that makes us friends? It’s hard to imagine that out of the millions of people on Twitter, I found the ones I did — I’ve always had a knack at spotting the cool girls I guess. I reconnected with my love of reading and writing and sharing because of those strangers I met, 140 characters at a time. These are my friends.

My parents had lifelong friends. There was the Cozean’s, with whom they had gone to high school and remained friends through all the years. And the Strite’s, neighborhood friends they had never lost touch with — even during a variety of moves. My mother had Ms. Bratten from work — they were great friends for years. And then there was Twerp, my mother’s friend from high school that she always talked about and had kept in touch. My father had Mr. Harrelson, his friend from down the road. My parents shared phone calls, letters, cards, and the occasional in person visit with these people they met along their life journey. These were their friends — it didn’t matter how often they saw each other in person — the in person contact was just a bonus.

The new age of social media gives me the chance to share with friends, old and new. (Not to mention, I’ve weaseled my way into some of my oldest daughters “friends” list — parents, use what you can!) My eighty year old uncle is on Facebook as is my tennis coach from college — how often would I take the time to share with these people if the only option was for me to send a letter? I can remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would always tell me to write her a letter. I wrote very few.

So, the new age of social media may not be the most ideal way of keeping in touch with friends — but, it’s better than not being in touch at all. Except, of course, for the occasional embarrassing photo tag — which reminds me, time to go through some photos.

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