Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Salvation by Facebook

I don't do a lot on Facebook--a little Scrabble, a little wall-to-wall stuff. And I don't have many friends on Facebook, at least not yet. But sometimes Facebook really comes through and delivers. Last year about this time Facebook got me over my fear of meeting with the bishop to discuss renouncing my ordination vows. Facebook did that by making me laugh. It made me laugh when I got an email inviting me to be friends with the bishop on Facebook about six days before my appointment to meet with her. Being new on Facebook myself, I was a bit surprised that she was on it, too. But that's not the whole story.
Italic
You know how, when you get an email inviting you to be someone's friend on Facebook, there's a link to open, and then the text says: "Please confirm that you are in fact So-and-so's friend"? So imagine that the name mentioned is someone you're not sure you really are friends with, someone with whom communication has been slim to non-existent for over a year. And beyond that, that you remember very vividly in your gut that the last time you had a two-way conversation, you ended up curled in a fetal position afterwards shaking and weeping. And so Facebook's insistence that you confirm you are in fact friends with this person presents what feels like an ethical dilemma: you kind of feel as if you should be friends with this person, but you honestly don't know if you want to be friends with this person, or even if you can be friends with this person. 

So you hedge, and decide to wait a while, take some deep breaths while you think about it. And in the meantime, because you're curious, you open the next link offered. And that link declares in no uncertain terms: "You and So-and-so have no friends in common." 

"Duh...I could have told you that" seems an appropriate response. And laughter. Lots of laughter. Tears, too. You start to think that maybe you could call yourself this person's friend on Facebook just for the heck of it, just because this seems like quite a funny joke the universe has offered up just when you needed to lighten up. But not wanting to be too hasty about such an important decision, you close up the email until later, when you can share it with one or two trusted friends. And they too are at first incredulous, next totally skeptical that this person is on Facebook and that such a friendship might be possible or desirable, and then they too dissolve in restorative laughter. One of them is talking to you on her cell phone as she walks, and after letting out her trademark whooping laugh that turns heads in restaurants and libraries, she has to stop and lean against a tree because she's laughing so hard. 

So in the end, it just seems like no big deal to be friends with the person on Facebook and to meet with her six days later. And you chalk one up to Facebook, and you are also very happy when your daughter shows you how to give this person only limited access to your profile.

6 comments:

aderby said...

I love this story, along with she of the trademark whooping laugh... did you see the Pope recently came out against Facebook and the substitution of virtual friends for true intimacy...of all the worlds problems...

Sukie Curtis said...

Wow, I hadn't heard that. Really, Facebook is right up there with hunger, poverty, and climate change. That Pope always his finger right on the world's pulse.

Sarah said...

She of the trademark whooping laugh here! :) I still actually *remember* that one - rare!! And a delight!

Luckily we all don't need to worry about deciding whether or not to friend the Pope - phew!!

Thanks for this post!

Cori Lynn Berg said...

This is an awesome post!!!! Glad I found it! Sukie -- people are just people after all. Sometimes we forget that. And sometimes people want us to think they are more than that. :)

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