I am an avid Facebook user. I check into FB several times a day. If I’m waiting on a website to populate, a file to upload or download, or just waiting on the computer to do what computers are supposed to do, I click over to FB to see what’s going on. Sitting in traffic, waiting on someone or something, or anytime that’s down-time, I’ll hit the big white F on my cell phone. Some nights I’ve even begun my unwinding process by scrolling through my timeline. Yes, there’s a lot, a whole lot of nonsense to be seen on FB, but my circle of “Friends” is not that great and I’m pleased to say that they are, for the most part, pretty sane. We are not a monolithic group, but whatever insanity that exists among us, is a mutual insanity; we all have our stuff; so, my timeline is pretty civil. I must admit, however, that it is civil by design; I have ignored my share of Friend Requests and unfollowed my helping of impostors.
While on FB, I spend my time:
• in lively, but respectful discourse with those interested in sharing and comparing ideas, not converting anyone to their way of thinking. Having been a debater, for a minute, and a debate coach, I know the art of debate and what some would like to drag others into is just ego pissing competition, not debate. I refuse to participate.
• in raucous, knee slapping, tear jerking laughter at animal, numb-skull, and bad singing videos.
• liking stuff, lots of stuff.
• sharing stuff I like.
• sharing, with my Friends, stuff I know they like.
• conversing (I really wanted to say “conversating”; though not a word, I like it) with family about absolutely nothing; making plans for family activities and events.
• blurting out odd observations, deep thoughts, heart-felt musings, pontifications.
• giving blow by blow accounts of what’s happening on tv, if I’m watching something really great.
• stealing pictures, quotes, and memes.
• following links to interesting articles.
I recently wondered how much of this stuff stays with me and how much do I, unknowingly, dispose of. Ever vigilant about what goes into the subconscious, what lurks about the energy field, and what rings in the ears like a melody to be sung on repeat, without conscious awareness, I decided it was time to check my filter. In so doing, I realized that it’s not so much the information that is shared, and processed, filtered or not filtered that matters, but the mere act of “sharing”. Facebook is not about the WHAT; it is about the WHO. What one “likes” or “shares” reveals something about him or her. It is that revelation of persons that my own filter revealed to be of most importance. Did Zuckerberg really know what he was doing?
Did he realize he was shrinking the world? We’ve heard it said, “It’s a small world after all”. We say it all the time, “hmph, small world”. The World Wide Web itself brought the world to our fingertips, but Facebook revealed to us that what makes the world, yet filled with mysteries, appear small, is nature’s little experiment with individuation. Us. We are all just variations of one another. On Facebook, there are toddlers of all cultures speaking their own language to their own parents with the funniest of gestures and expressions, and we all laugh, but do we get the joke? There are fathers from varying parts of the world, all reacting to the new that their teenage sons have impregnated a teen girl. Their reactions are hill-arious! So different; yet, so much the same. African Americans post memes that say, “You Know You’re Black If…,” rednecks (their word, not mine), Latinos, Irish, Asians, Africans each have their own “You Know … If …” Differences are celebrated by those who have no fear of difference, recognizing, embracing, honoring, and respecting that our individuations are what make the world, the world. There are African American mothers and fathers sharing their journeys with children, suffering from Leukemia; there are white families, Pakistanis. The same: they all need bone marrow transplants. The difference: they can’t all get it from the same source. When there is a national or international tragedy, the world responds with human compassion, but must remind itself, “Hey, show the same compassion and caring when it happens to the darker brother … to the Native brother … the brother from another mother”. Before FB, how did such dialogue happen? Before FB, where and how did we see the images, share the stories, reach out? We didn’t. Did Zuckerberg know what he was doing?
While the World Wide Web was teeming with information to be had at the drop of a hat, there was nothing that made anything outside one’s reality relevant, except a curious mind. There was nothing that even made one’s reality relevant and meaningful to another. My world was irrelevant to yours and yours to mine. Before Martin Luther King brought the world into the Civil Rights Movement via mainstream media, the world had no knowledge of America’s treatment of her former builders. Since that time, very little truth of American life has graced the screens for the world to see, for neighbors right across the street to see, for that matter. Technology made it possible for America to “wag the dog”. Then, Zuckerberg created a gathering place, a watering hole for all sojourners who desire to pass through and share “Postcards from the Dance Floor”. It is a rendezvous point, a connection for outgoing travels. It is a place where people are encouraged, inspired, and, yes, entertained. It is a place to get your laugh on, to reminisce, reground, reconnect. It is a place where we come to see that we are not alone.
It requires more words and space and time than are dedicated here, to dispel the myth that Facebook is for folks who have nothing better to do, nosey folks, folks who need attention. But so what if it is; even the Sunday morning church house hosts that crowd. That’s the whole point. Facebook put the lights, the camera, and the action right into the hands of average, ordinary people from around the world, and the world began to see parallel images of itself in different make up and costumes, with different mannerisms and gestures, broadcasting the same message. “I’m here.”
*Twerk on over to “Did Zuckerberg Know What He Was Doing?” part 2