Tuesday, May 08, 2007

On Faces: Facebook/False Intimacies

(Some preliminary and still gestating thoughts)

I hate social networking. Only after much scorn and derision and coercion did I relent and place a profile on Facebook. Naturally it was under a fake name with no picture and no likelihood of activity. Not so, it seems. It began with a little gravity, things pulling themselves to me, disparate pieces of a life left behind shifting orbit, coming closer. People I had no intention or desire to ever talk to again started "poking" me, importuning, insisting that we be "friends", again. And who could deny a classmate from elementary school, who's heart is so cold, so closed off? Who could begrudge us that innocence, that naivety, of secret hand shakes, ashen legs, red faces?

No one. Not then. We were young then. But now? What are we after? No one is denied; everyone must enter your life again, and enter with a crooked smile and false bonhomie, or you will pay with psychic dread. Am I a bad person? Is my network of friends inclusive enough? If she is on his list and I am on his list, will she understand why she can't be on my list? And then thought collapse on itself, to the subject: why am I not on his or her list? What is my worth?

And suddenly your social currency is only validated, or not, when you check your inbox, your mind doing revolutions, needlessly, about people you may or may not ever see again, physically. But they will haunt you each time you visit your page, their words will bleed through your wall, offering intimacies to strangers, to you. This person you went to Univeristy with; this person you meet through an organization; this person who knows this person you know; this person who knows far too much about you.

Anything pushed to its extreme winds up having its opposite effect. When at first you wanted everyone closer, just at your finger tips, just in case, just to type those easy wittcisms and then return to more important things--you are now bound. Either be online and not reply; be busy and not reply; or disappear entirely. This is not a community of fellow travlers; this is the tyrany of the group.

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