Sunday, October 05, 2008

Redemption via Facebook

Yes, yes, I've got a whole post about the wrap-up and triumphant turning-in of the tenure package, which I know you've all been waiting to read, on pins and needles, but it's going to have to wait, as I'm dying to talk about the mindfuck that is Facebook.

For the record, I only got on that damn thing because a colleague made me realize how useful it is finding out where alums have gone---not in a "creepy, I'm looking at your binge drinking pics" way, but in a "hey, didn't G. go off to some snazzy grad school, and wouldn't his input be useful for our current students?" way. And so with great caution, I waded into the (cess)pool. And thus the mortification began.

It's been discussed virtually (hah! "virtually." Get it?) everywhere that the social interactions on Facebook are tricky. Who's your friend? How do you treat your students? How do you maintain a professional face? Blah blah. Complicated, no doubt. [Basically, I try to stay out of people's faces, unless I know them pretty well, or they approach me first. I'm an advocate of Facebook passivity.]

So there I am making careful choices about who to friend and why, what kinds of applications to add [What philosopher am I? Check. What sexual position am I? Not so much.], and then they blow the doors off Facebook. There was once a time when it was a pool limited to institutions and businesses. I felt okay with that. Now it's a giant swirling cataract of everyone with computer access. Thanks for upping the ante, Facebook. There's nothing I'd like better than for my students to see what my high school boyfriend wants to say to me after 15 years.

Aside from the complications raised by self-presentation, however, there was also the question about social networks and friends of friends. Because Facebook is the Amazon of social interaction: "other people who like Jack also like Jill! Do you like Jill?" And if you and Jill share 20-25 friends, you see her damn face every time you go to the site. don't you think if I liked Jill I would have friended her by now?!!

And here lieth my 3 month seething social dilemma, and its surprising culmination, pace blog post title. It goes something like this: my hippie college has a thriving Facebook community. Like, there are more members for the teeny tiny program than there are for the entire college of which it is a part. So there's a whole lot of friending, wall-writing, good karma sending, picture posting, etc. The problem is this: once upon a time, I had an ugly, ugly run-in with a friend (Nutsy) and her ex-boyfriend (Werther). You know the kind. Like the two of them break up, he and I hook up, and then she threatens to kill me? In great detail? Like she's written up a flow chart to make sure she recalls what comes after the dismemberment step? Meanwhile, he's suddenly decided that I've betrayed him, and then the two of them get back together? [Lauren Conrad's SO got nothing on me.]

That was pretty much the last I saw of either of them, for a decade. A decade in which I periodically beat myself up for being such a horrible person, a bad feminist, a wronged woman, etc., etc. ( You know, writing it out like this makes it seem like so much less of a big deal. But it was! I was the worst person in the world!!)

So it was particularly horrifying to see Werther pop up on Facebook, daily, as friends of friends. For months. And I just kept thinking: cripes, he must be seeing me all the time too. How uncomfortable. Obviously, he's barely containing his hatred of me---however does he stand it?

You see where this is going, right?

Long story short: last night, for god only knows what reason, he friends me, and we've been having a delightful little interaction ever since. WTF, I say unto you, dear reader. WTF?!! Option A: he's decided to let bygones be bygones. Option B: he was perhaps also embarrassed about his behavior? Whatever the reasoning, the bottom line is this: I've been flagellating myself over this for the past 10 years, and now suddenly, it's no big deal. Think of the time and energy I could have saved myself. Dammit!!

New resolution: get some perspective about your behavior.
Try not think that your at the center of the universe.

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Blogger Ashley said...

What I think is totally fascinating about Facebook is which of my colleagues/other faculty-member friends friend students. I would never in a million, million years friend a student. Yet one of my colleagues with whom I am friends friended a student who I haaaaaaaaate, and now I'm paranoid about what he can see about me via my interactions with her. Fucking facebook.

Sr. Fluff has totally not friended me back, by the way. He obviously hates me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008 2:24:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

I'm with you; I totally avoid the friending of students. But then, of course, they friend you, and I feel as if it's rude not to accept? Hence, my passivity theory.

Sr. Fluff is a totally sporadic Facebook participant. He gets all excited about it, and then forgets it exists. Much like the way he forgets how iTunes works, and so I do a little downloading demo every two weeks. Sigh.

I'll tell him to get on top of it!

Sunday, October 05, 2008 2:34:00 PM  
Anonymous The Bittersweet Girl said...

And once again Facebook proves itself to be a means of furthering human understanding and world peace!

I share with you the whole getting-to-know Facebook trajectory: initial disgust followed by half-hearted participation followed by horror at skeletons appearing out of long closed closets followed by appreciation. Yes, I've arrived at the "I actually kinda like this Facebook thingee, afterall" stage. I never knew that reading little updates about people I barely knew in high school would be so fun!

Glad you were able to achieve some resolution!

Friday, October 10, 2008 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Friends of mine describe FB as akin to being in college and walking down the hall of a dorm---you kinda get a sense of what's going on with everyone, without knowing them or having to talk. There's a special kind of interaction going on there. And I mean "special" in at least two ways...

Saturday, October 11, 2008 12:17:00 PM  

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