Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Facebook Foibles

Early this morning before I began to create breakfast At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn, I was listening to the radio while gently coming into the morning with a delicious cup of coffee.

The radio announcer was commiserating with caller regarding the trouble she had brought down on her head with a Facebook posting she had penned concerning her employer. In the aftermath of her employer reading her post, this woman has been "invited not to return to work." She seemed unclear as to whether this was a permanent decision or a cooling off period her boss needed before he could "face her again" after having reading her post. She assured the listeners that the post was taken out of context.

It seems that, much to her chagrin, the mother of one of her son's friends at school had made a copy of her posting and forwarded it to her boss. She seemed at a loss to explain the reasons for this action. She stated she had "friended" the boy's Mom on her Facebook Page though she really did not know her well.

I am not of the Facebook generation at my nearly 58 years of age. Quite honestly I have no understanding of the allure that this social interaction brings to its fan base. Further, as in the case described above, I see serious immediate and long term, occasionally of the very sticky nature problems associated with this type of social networking.

This woman is now unemployed. She is unemployed due to conversation with those she "friended" (her employer, clearly not one of the friends). Clearly, she felt free to share details of her life and work that were not well received by her employer with these people. I have seen much more sensitive data, with far greater implication than this, shared on Facebook pages.

Let's be honest. Though in those teen angst years we believe these are our "friends for life" many of us don't remain in contact with those we graduated high school with. I would say most of us, save for our very closest friends, don't even remain in contact with those with whom we graduated college. Time moves on, we mature, our geography as well as our personal paths diverge, we get married, have families, they have families. Time is finite. Most of us have a difficult time juggling our social agenda between working, responsibilities to our immediate families e.g. and just getting on with the business of living in real time.

As we enter 2010, the demographics of Facebook users break out as follows: 40% of Facebook users are under the age of 25
60% are 26 or older.
20% are 45 are older. ... I note the final decreasing number as the member population ages.

I get that. These people have been alive long enough to know that "real relationships" of long duration function best with "face time." Those with whom we have a vital thread and truly love deserve our time and we deserve the gift of that too. People don't live forever.
Folks that you knew in high school have lived whole lives of time in which you have not been a part. Having no knowledge of what that time has brought and what effect it has had on them, their lives and how they morphed into the people they are today may give you pause about sharing very personal parts of your life, your spouses life and certainly your childrens lives with who they are today. You don't have any idea who that person is currently and your vacuum of insight could prove a problem for you.

Friend is defined by Webster as: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

I for one, do not believe this definition or any real definition of this word can be achieved in snippets of discussion about one's life.
A life and the person describing it is a much more complex form than this venue could possibly enhance understanding of.
I will liken it to the difference between a diamond and a shard of glass. As long as one understands and appreciates the difference.... a good outcome would be no harm/no foul. A failure to understand the difference could cause you to settle for so much less. In the end, the context is important. It is the substance of our lives. It is the weave of our existence and to relay it in small, fractioned parts is to diminish and distort it into meaningless, vacuous one liners.


Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers 

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