Friday, October 02, 2009

Feuding on Facebook

I just finished reading a private message from now a former Facebook friend who cease and desisted me due to an apparent feud he had over political views posted on his wall and the wall of at least one other. He was thoughtful in his shut-off notice, citing the all-too-common position we all find ourselves in when getting requests for friendship from folks we don't really know, have rarely if ever spoken with, and may not recognize when passed on the street. Do we confirm or ignore?

We don't want to be rude.
Confirm or ignore??
We truly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
Confirm or ignore??? C'mon, make a decision!
How can we ignore a request for friendship??

It's really all about high school, isn't it? I mean this whole idea of accepting or ignoring friendship, of counting how many friends another person might have listed on their profile page, of fishing their list of 5 - 300 friends to catch someone not listed on ours.

I'm not dissin' my high school days, mind you. LOVED them - no, I mean, I LOVED THEM and anyone associated with them. I am quite confident that heaven for me will include that large and wonderful cast of characters walking the high path and the low path between the two Grand Blanc High Schools.

But I digress...

My initial entry into Facebook came with great enthusiasm. I suddenly found people I have not seen nor heard from in many, many years. I found family members. I found former colleagues. I found parents of my kids' friends. I found old crushes. I found my kids' teachers. I told people Facebook was like a great big party where you could dip into conversations at any time on the homepage or slide off into a more private conversation from your profile page. Shoot you could have completely private conversations on the balcony of Facebook by sending a direct message from the inbox!!

Nothing but love, and more love... Love, love, love ... What a great world... Thank God for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, YOU ROCK!

What I failed to consider while hangin' 10 on the love wave was that people are people, even in this wonderful love bubble of Facebook. After all the virtual huggin, poking and looking at family photos, we settle back into the unfinished business that sometimes separated us in the first place. Family members ask questions of those that may have unknowingly hurt them years ago. Old high school friends finally tell how ignored they felt as others passed them in the halls. Former crushes of days gone by become dangerous flames that can threaten the stablility of our day-to-day lives.

And that is just the unfinished business!

What of politics and our passionate support of issues that sometimes spark just as passionate responses from others attending the party on the Home page?? What of issues of faith, and religion and morality? Yes, we have been taught to avoid discussions of such in public; should the same rules of civility apply to this sub-reality of fb? (I think the power users simply use fb for Facebook!)

I am beginning to realize that perhaps Mark Zuckerberg has not so much created a utopian cyberworld as much as a cybermirror of life and the souls of those of us who use it. Of course there is going to be hurt feelings. Of course there is going to be anger and disrespect. Of course there is going to be friends deleting friends over something someone posted on someone else's wall.

Of course.

So why do I feel so hopeless for mankind?

In the fb world where we very actively pick and choose to accept or ignore our friends, where we publicly engage in discussions for those accepted friends to see and read...where we can literally surround ourselves with handchosen friends and family ...

In the same fb world where we can literally ignore those who might hold opposing or troubling views that are different from our own...

there remains fighting and bitterness and division...

We needn't wonder of the wars being fought in other countries...

Dark as it may seem, I suspect the problem won't go away with a more judicious use of the ignore button on fb.

We. Just. Can't. Get. Rid. Of. Everyone. Who. Disagrees.

Believe me, I've tried!

But we can - but I can - become more tolerant of those who don't agree with my "obvious wisdom." (joke, it's funny, laugh. Please laugh.) Why can't we let Crazy Aunt Sue be crazy, act crazy, say crazy, write crazy without risk of being cease and desisted? Why must we shut off the voices that are different from our own? So what if it gets a little personal? Who doesn't like a little spice with their Chimichanga? (def: dish typically prepared by filling a flour tortilla with a wide range of ingredients, most commonly beans, rice, cheese, ground beef.)

It was the spice that made me love high school. It's the spice that makes me still love living in Flint, MI. It's the spice of my 10 friends left on fb that keeps me coming back to the party, dippin into conversations where I learn more about my friends and family, to be sure,

...but also about life.

Party on, Wayne!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's it really like growing up in Flint, MI?

My daughter has started her own blog. She's 12 and spends most of her time writing anyway - no, seriously. We have three or four computers in this house and in total, she probably has 100 unfinished stories - and that is not counting the many, many spirals she has filled with her thoughts, her opinions, her fan fiction, her teen romance marvels. It's incredible. I keep pushing for her to get even ONE of them finished so we can sell it. There is little doubt in my mind that she will earn FAR more money as a writer than her mother ever did.

Her blog, "Growing up in Flint, Michigan," will likely feature many thoughts very normal for a soon-to-be teen in any city in America. I suspect she'll mention Glee and the brothers Jonas; she'll likely yap about school though keeping location unidentifiable.

And friends.

And love.

And maybe that will be the most telling thing about her blog, that kids growing up in Flint aren't necessarily experiencing the shootings, the crime, the drugs - the fear that too many adults have come to accept after hearing the news or the gossip at the Rite Aid down the street.

Not that she or any of her friends are unaware of the dangers. They can't help but hear the sirens throughout the night, learn of the double shootings just 10 miles from their homes. My daughter doesn't exactly live in the war zone of some of her friends; some of her friends undoubtedly hear gun shots regularly at night. In fact, it's fairly certain that some have suffered some form of emotional and/or physical abuse in homes where families are losing medical insurance, jobs and homes. At her young age, she already has learned of two others her age who have taken their own lives.

Living in Flint, Michigan, ain't your Father's Oldsmobile!

I guess that's why I think she has something to say that is quite likely different from what Michael Moore has said, as an adult, drawing from the memories of when he was 12 instead of being 12. I don't fault his memory, mind you, I just think the potential for a new fresh perspective from the mind(s) of our youth could be telling, if not interesting, if not helpful ... if not fun.

I'm looking forward to reading her thoughts - and helping her spend her money if she ever finishes even one of those blasted stories eating up space on my computer!