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Face that book with a smile

I just finished reading The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. It’s a much more subtle read than the title might imply. He’s not actually saying that my brain has been taken over by Facebook. He’s only implying it.

Or something like that. I’ve been having trouble with my short-term recall these days…

But seriously, I use Facebook for business purposes only. I am completely serious here… sort of: I have been using Facebook to publicize my writing. (Hey, sign up here if you’re on Facebook, too!) And I have found it an amazingly friendly tool for getting notifications from groups I want to hear from, such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.

For a long time, I felt very guilt-free when my son would say, “Facebook again?” upon glancing at my screen and I’d say, “I’m working!”

Then the Midlanders got to me.

No, not the fans of my short-lived duo with a friend who was also born in that far-away land.

I mean all those kids I grew up with. Except “those kids” have turned out to be adults (how did that happen?) who have real lives (all over the place), jobs (even ones that make money), and political affiliations (no comment). They’ve cut their hair. They are obsessed with football. They have opinions.

It started like this: One of my childhood friends that I have actually communicated with a few times since childhood “friended” me. And that was OK. We’ve actually talked on the phone. I know where she’s living, what she’s doing, and her husband’s name. (Though I’ve forgotten that. See aforementioned memory difficulties.)

Then, somehow, her “friends” found me. I remember Suki, they thought. And they “friended” me, too. I didn’t want to be rude. I accepted their friendship.

And that opened a whole new can o’ worms.

Am I using Facebook now for business purposes? Or have I gotten sucked into the new, mind-numbing void of The Shallows?

It’s hard to sum up his main thesis, except to say that he thinks we should all be pretty careful about how much of our brains we dump into the Internet. We think we’re using it as a tool, but it may, in fact, be using us. (Are you out there, Hal?)

I have to admit I’ve had to “hide” some “friends.” If you post numerous times during the day about what you ate, the cute thing your kid said, and the gum you found stuck to the bottom of your shoe, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that most of your “friends” have “hidden” you. Let’s be serious, here: They tuned you out long ago. Being able to “hide” you on Facebook is just so much easier and more convenient than writing up their grocery shopping list while talking to you on the phone.

“Hiding” friends is the modern equivalent of “uh-huh” and “really?” and “tell me more.”

Occasionally, I must admit, I get caught up in the drama of Facebook. I know that I shouldn’t reply to something a “friend” has posted, but can I resist? Usually, yes. I’m using Facebook for business purposes, you know.

But sometimes you have to wander over to the water cooler.

So I respond to a post and then someone I haven’t spoken to for thirty years snarks back at me and I have a bad night’s sleep.

Well, actually, I don’t usually remember it at bedtime. Go back to short-term memory difficulties, above.

But seriously, although I use Facebook for business purposes only, I get why people have gotten so “into” it. Their “friends” are so much easier to manage than their friends. Their “friends” won’t run into them at the grocery store or at the school play. Those pesky friends do that sort of thing all the time! Their “friends” can be turned off. Those darn friends will insist on seeing you and getting to the bottom of why you’d criticize their political affiliations and their favorite football team in one 5-word post.

See, with “friends,” you can just say, “Oh, I’m sorry — you must have misunderstood.” And by the time they read that, they can’t actually remember what you’re referring to (return to aforementioned short-term memory deficits), and it’s easy to forgive you.

For all you know, they weren’t even mad enough to “hide” you.

Not that you’d ever know. Not like that real friend you sent a snarky e-mail to, and now when she sees you on the school campus she looks right through you like you’re a… like you’re a…

…like she doesn’t “like” you anymore.

OK. Maybe “friends” are better than friends. Bye, everyone. See you all in Facebook, where it’s so much easier to be me.

I mean, “me.”

Posted in Culture.

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  1. The Midlanders (1920) - Movie linked to this post on May 15, 2011

    The Midlanders (1920) – Movie…

    The Midlanders is a Drama Movie of 1920 made in USA. Director: Joseph De Grasse, Ida May ParkCast: Bessie Love, Truman Van Dyke, Sydney Deane, Frances Raymond, Curt Rehfeld, C. Norman Hammand, Lloyd Bacon, Jack Donovan…

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