Facebook: the Ongoing Narrative
because they're chareidi; because they're kind of anti-technology. Not
exactly of course, but you know what I mean - everyone has a friend
who refuses to get a facebook account for no particularly good reason.
And for those people, I'd like to say something about the facebook
phenomenon, and why I am a fan.
my facebook account was originally activated by a friend of mine, who
insisted on my getting one to keep in touch with. At first, I
regarded it as another technological obligation, and an annoyance.
Then I discovered what so many others do; that it's a wonderful way to
waste time. But even so, I kept myself to certain standards - I ignored
most activations and applications, actually used the damn thing to
keep in touch with people, and, one of my personal facebook prides: I
have no friends on facebook that I did not actually know at some point
in time in real life.
Now as the phenomenon grew, more and more people had facebook and were
getting in touch with me as well - people from elementary school, high
school, camp, seminary, and pretty much every other significant period
in my life- the fact that I actually knew everyone on my friend list
became mildly impressive to me, and I'll tell you why: I got to finish
a lot of stories.
Here's what I mean.
Daily life is an ongoing narrative, that other people walk in and out
of. We all know pretty nearly everything about our own narrative up to
the current point, and those of the few people we see and talk to
everyday and are generally close with. But then there are those people
that you were only friends with for a brief period of time. You might
have been quite god and sincere friends at the time, but now barely
speak. Say you know someone for maybe a year or two. If it's a close
friend, you get a good piece of that person's narrative up til the
point you met them - major life events, basic family details, that
kind of thing. And obviously, you're there for that piece of her/his
progression, so you know what goes on in that piece of the narrative.
But after you two part ways, you do different things, lose contact a
bit. Five years later you get nostalgic and think "Huh, I wonder what
happened next? I wonder what's up with him/her now?"
That's where facebook comes in. By being in touch with people on
facebook, you get to track their narrative in the bits and pieces they
let slip out in daily or weekly increments. Of course, most of the
really interesting details you can only guess at - especially if it's
one of those people you really never talk to, even on facebook. But
there are hints if you know how to read them. And then, the major life
events - engagements and marriages, births and aliyahs and other big
deals- generally are published biphairush. I davka like it more this
way about the people I never talk to. I like being able to follow
their narrative even without talking to them. Cuz I know that they
don't really want to talk to me, and I don't really want to talk to
them - but curiosity over the development of the human drama keeps us
tuned in to each others lives even from a distance. And there's
something oddly nice about that. Maybe something creepy too, if you
think about it too hard. But my fascination with stories, especially
real-life ones about people I know, can't really help but exult in
this. I suppose it is every good storyteller's dream come true; a
treasure trove of material right at your fingertips.The sheer weight
of all that human information is dizzying - kind of like get the feeling you get when walking into a
well-stocked used bookstore.
Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say is, that I love knowing how the
story ends. Obviously, we can't really know how most of them end for
years and years to come. But I like seeing the progression. There's something strangely satisfying in it.