Sunday, January 16, 2011

Facebook as a form of therapy

Within twenty minutes of joining Facebook, I received a friend request from the man who holds my V card. It just got weirder from there.

My phone didn't stop all night. Bzzz.. Bzzz... Bzzz... all Facebook notifications from or regarding people I haven't seen or talked to in years - in one case, since I was eight years old. It wasn't merely that people were trying to "friend" me. It was that they were wildly encouraging the befriendment of six or seven other people I am connected to in some tenuous way. Or in some major way, like, oh fuck it, the guy after the guy with the V card.

One of the ways I have always defended myself from too much reality is by compartmentalizing things and people. I don't mix my sports friends with my literature friends. I don't mix my work friends with my drinking friends. And I definitely don't cross eras. NO! If you are from high school, you stay in high school. Stay!

You must be wondering what purpose all this organization serves, how it protects me. I'll tell you: all those people from my past have expectations about what I am supposed to be right now. And all those ideas are different. The one from when I was eight years old is still confused and hurt that I didn't marry her older brother, but mostly she is just shocked that I didn't have the imagination to get out of New York City. And if I wasn't going to marry her brother, couldn't I at least married someone?

My literature friends are all aghast that it has been two and a half years since my dad died, and I haven't submitted a draft of the manuscript for them to read. WAIT. They WOULD be aghast if were not so pissed off that I disappeared into the ether for two and a half years without informing anyone that I hadn't died. Because for while there, I bore all the hallmarks of a suicide risk, and I was not polite enough to let the literature friends or anyone else know I wasn't dead.

My online friends are just in shock that I am on Facebook and revealing my actual name because hello, anonymous blog?! Well not for long, apparently. Anyone with an IQ upwards of 80 who reads this blog could find me, and my true identity, on Facebook in less than 10 minutes.

I am really uncomfortable.

How to continue?


Internet, I have decided that compartmentalization is mostly bad. It is not bad in and of itself - but the way I use it is absolutely wrong. I use it to lie to people - passively. To let one group of people think one thing about me and some other group of people think some other thing. I do it to keep people at a distance, and I achieve that by creating a life where no one can ever compare notes. Even as I write this, I am thinking: what's wrong with that? Why isn't it ok to be in-person friends with X person but compartmentalize Z person into the "online" category - and stubbornly refuse to budge?

Answer: Because it's total bullshit. It serves no purpose except to protect myself from some vague idea of disappointing people or not living up to expectations. I don't want my in person friends to know that I have a freaky, post-modern life that I would never share with them. This is the honest truth: the internet is a big part of my life and my in person friends HAVE NO IDEA I HAVE A BLOG.

ALSO: I don't want the online friends to know that, really, seriously? I am 40. I have told you all this, but if you met me you'd all be like, jeez, you really are 40. And you look it.

So I hate Facebook. I hate it. All my compartments are collapsing, and I hate it. However, much as I hate it, I think it'll help me live a more honest life. Who knows: maybe I'll be brave enough to actually meet a blog person in real life this year. Or maybe I'll admit to my sports friends that I have long arguments with other people about how indirect objects work - in Russian. Maybe I'll actually contact all the people I have let believe I have fallen off the face of the earth know I am alive. OH WAIT. Facebook is doing that for me.

Have I mentioned I am uncomfortable? I am. Please comment: does any of this make sense? Or is Facebook really evil and can I please unFacebook myself and get on with my tidy little multi-celled life?


Anonymous said...

Facebook made me uncomfortable at first. I joined it because I had a baby and I was lonely at 3 in the morning, with no one to talk to, and with friends who don't have kids and really didn't want to talk about it (it being things like blood and guts and diapers) ( also, is there is a deeper spot in the lake of pathetic? I don't think so).

Anyway, that was almost two years ago, and now I've mostly gotten over the weirdness. I'm also rooming at a conference with someone I know from blogging. WHAT?

Now I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable...

Avitable said...

As you know, I do NOT compartmentalize my life and, in fact, get annoyed if my friends who live locally ask me what I'm doing instead of reading my blog.

I'm glad to see you open up a bit too. And who cares if you're 40? I know I don't.

If I thought you'd actually meet in person, I would totally come up to NYC. Baby steps.

Kate P said...

I totally identified with a lot in this post. . . and yes, I am still holding out on the Facebook page.

My cousin shut down his page because the first person to find him was the ex-girlfriend who had torn his heart to shreds. I totally don't get the people on the lookout for people they heinously slaughtered. Are their memories that bad?

Eddie said...

I'm heading over to facebook to stalk you now.

Mr. Bingley said...

I only joined facebook to keep tabs on my daughter. I have ignored 99% of the 'friend' invites I get because, well, if those people really were what I define as 'friends' then they'd already know what I'm up to. I feel no desire or need to have acquaintances, even exceedingly cordial ones, know too many details of my private life.

Oh and I'm 47. Big freakin' whoop.

Catherine said...

I'm not a fan of Facebook, but I keep it because my beloved Redskins fan has an account to which he occasionally posts pictures. If it weren't for him, I'd have excused myself out of it long since.

I go look at FB, but I've never really done anything there, or said anything. I filled out the forms and 'liked' some stuff.

I'm a Twitter girl till the end.

Tracy Lynn said...

The Facebook is always trying to steal my soul, but I think trying to be one person instead of twenty two versions of one person is good. Otherwise the person you end up lying to the most is yourself, and THAT, dude, always leads to disaster of the cataclysmic kind.
I'm glad you're back.

Maggie said...

Facebook is why I stopped blogging. I could post my random thoughts and enthusiasms on my wall, and it was so much easier! But truth, I had to do it as myself, not as Maggie.

And then I realized the same thing that you have, the compartmentalization and false privacy which is really just dishonesty is weird.

SO I'm checking out your blog after several years of being MIA, and I have missed you, lovely Nina. We should catch up.