Facebook Debutante

So, I finally made a facebook page.

Over the past few months I’d become increasingly frustrated to hear about events only after the fact because they’d only been shared on facebook; events I would’ve been glad to know about: readings, shows, workshops, and gatherings.

This was after years of already feeling sheepish and mumbling ‘no’ when asked if I had a facebook page, this being the replacement for phone numbers and/or emails.

I still had my reservations, but I began to feel hemmed in.  How much longer could I hold out?

Meanwhile, many of my younger friends are already dropping out of facebook, sick of the impersonal, recognizing their own tendency to waste time, finding it invasive, etc.

But then, the biggie happened: Egypt, preceded by Tunisia, used facebook and other “social media” to facilitate a Revolution!

If you’ll forgive the analogy, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I mean, if Egypt can have a revolution on facebook, I guess I can have a facebook page.

Of course there’s that important flip side, not to be underestimated, that facebook was actually cut off by the powers that be, whoever they were/are – and we must remember that:

“they” are in charge of the grid, not us (not yet!).

(Can there be facebook/internet that belongs to “the people”, is run by the people, that we the people control?)

Nevertheless, the fires were stoked – Wael Ghonim, who was a major player in the online aspect of the protests, claimed he was not a hero; said that all he did was sit at a keyboard.

Well, there must be something to that social keyboarding thing, eh?

Time to join in.

Not knowing the territory, I began minimally.

First came the all important profile pic: I don’t have many photos of myself, so I chose a somewhat blurry picture I’d taken in my full length mirror while dressed as a witch last Halloween.  It was too long to fit in the allotted size, so I cropped myself from the waist up, wearing black with my pointy black witch’s hat.  Not bad, but okay for now.  At least it’s my face.

Within 24 hours I had an onslaught of friend requests, including some from people I don’t know, some really cute guys…How very tempting.  It made me wonder what I’d posted that got them there; was it ShahRukh Khan as someone who inspires me? or Jon Stewart?  Who knows what goes on in the geographical moonscape of facebook…

With my new facebook access, I got to see all these other profile photos, and quickly got discouraged with my own – too blurry, too black.  The full photo was more interesting: below my ruched black skirt, I’m wearing bright orange socks with black and white striped tights, and Dickensian lace-up boots.  I decided to post this lower half instead – essentially posting only my outfit.

This caused me to think about how much more the bottom half of my photo – that is, my outfit – represents me than the photo of my face does.

We can take far less credit – or blame – for our faces and bodies than we can for our clothes.  After all, what is my face but a turn of genetics? Something I cannot really alter without lots of cash and lots of surgery – and certainly not on a daily basis  Whereas my clothes really are more of an expression of me; they are my artistic statement, my daily moods on my sleeves, so to speak…

The boots and the tights would work for awhile.

Then, within days, I had what I would call my first true facebook experience.  Someone I am friends with in physical life, though not in regular contact with, posted on facebook that he was coming to town but had no idea where he was going to stay.  Having plenty of spare room in my house at the time, I emailed him to say he was welcome to stay at my place.  We proceeded to spend a lovely evening catching up and talking philosophy.

There was no denying: something had happened that would NOT have happened without facebook; A human connection had been made from a virtual one.

Another week went by and I began to desire a more purposefully designed profile photo.

I happen to be immersed in studies for a short story full of Persian carpets, so I took a pic of myself lying against a lovely russet rug of my own which is not Persian at all and is undoubtedly machine made, but felt just right, especially in my present state of mind.  I tweaked it a bit, and there it was, my new profile.

The next day while walking down the street I actually felt different, and I knew it was because of this picture.

I thought of something I’d heard recently, that spending even a short time as an avatar in a video game can enhance a person’s confidence for up to 24 hours (Jane McGonigal on Colbert).

When she said this, my mind traveled in a more menacing direction than she was heading in:

I thought of Jared Loughner (who now has his own wikipedia page – killing people publicly, always one way to get famous).

I also thought of the one time I’d seen Grand Theft Auto (the video game). It was over the shoulder of a man who was my housemate at the time, with whom I did not have good communication.  The clip I caught was of his ‘avatar’, armed with a high-powered rifle, running through a city landscape shooting people; a woman jumps up and screams, the avatar says “Shut up, Bitch”, shoots her and keeps on running…

How’s that for boosting a man’s confidence?

Still, after I’d posted that photo of myself, I really did feel like I was strutting differently. I’d framed something about myself, and now it was my public identity for everyone to see…There’s something intimate about it, and it marks this moment in my life, the story I’m working on, and even Egypt having a revolution before the eyes of the world, which is part of what I want to post about.

As for that, I also began to notice that I was almost the only one of my friends posting about world events.  The ratio of my concern with “what’s happening out there” to theirs was drastic, and I was confused. I’d expected to find myself deep in conversations on fire with the world, but…no.  Just daily doings around the house.

I began to infer from this that I have yet to find my ideal community.

I suppose one day I will start being in conversation with people I’ve only met in cyber space, people who are thinking and writing about what I’m thinking and writing about.  I’ve already run across blogs written by these kinds of people, people often from other countries, people I can exchange ideas with only because of the inter-net.

Will we one day be “friends”?  I hope so, though I worry about what will happen if the whole net goes down and our “friends” all live too far away for us to get to.  But in the meantime, simply connecting and finding others with like minds is a mighty thing.

With all its pitfalls and evils, I must say that so far my facebook experience has been illuminating and even exciting, especially as I’ve gotten connected to news pages that are important to me.  It allows me to continue being the one who brings up what’s happening even when others don’t want to know. It allows me to share new ideas, and whatever else I wish everyone knew about, even if they don’t take the time to look in depth.  And it allows me to be exposed to all kinds of things my friends share that I would know nothing about without my facebook page.

I guess I’m finally part of the social media mix.

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