Of all the odd things I trip over on Facebook, and there are many, the oddest is my own past. These incidents fall into three essential categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
THE GOOD: Remember all the kids that you thought were too cool to notice you? You don’t? OK, maybe you weren’t the petrified wimp I was, but for me these people existed. Now, thanks to the miracle of Facebook, I am in on the conversation and treated as an equal. Some of them have even started to become good friends and confidants.
THE BAD: What the hell does that say about my childhood? Am I learning that I allowed a piss-poor self-image to keep me from enjoying the company of good people who would have enjoyed my company as well? Or is it just that we have all grown up and the walls are gone? Did the walls ever exist? Does my therapist have time for me more than once a week? Arrrghh.
In reality, I came to grips with my youthful self-esteem issues years ago and have greatly enjoyed getting to know these people better and finding we share a lot in common – including memories.
THE REAL BAD is when you get a friend request from someone you prayed had been eaten by wolves. Well, not literally ….ok, yeah, literally. The odd part is not that they weren’t – that was a long shot. The odd part is trying to figure out why I got the invite. I don’t want to send them a message asking because a) that allows them to see my profile and b) I was really hoping they had been eaten by wolves.
I am not talking mild dislike, but mutual hatred. The kind that would lead one to at least expect an accompanying note with the request. Much can be left in the past, but when you get into “nearly killed me with your bare hands” or “intentionally screwed me out of my livelihood” territory, a note would be nice. In all fairness one guy did mention that he had missed seeing me at an art opening the night before, which I suppose makes up for beating his girlfriend. At least now, from peaking at their profiles, I know where they live . Anyone know where I can hire some wolves?
THE UGLY: By “the ugly” I mean the inexplicable cold shoulder, the opposite of THE REAL BAD. An old friend of mine popped up as a friend suggestion. I sent a friend request and got the window asking that you suggest friends. We had been and remained close to many of the same people, so I suggested him to 32 mutual friends. I got those little messages about how he and so-and-so were now friends as I had suggested. Within a week he had befriended them all, except me. Huh? Oh shit, here come all of those self-esteem issues I thought I had dealt with. I found myself wondering if I had done something hurtful to this person, or if they might be under some false impression. This was compounded as we started showing up on the same threads, commenting on the same things, often even responding to each other’s comments, but never addressing each other directly.
Finally it hit me; I was becoming completely neurotic about being snubbed by someone that I had made no attempt to contact on my own in years, someone whom it would still not occur to me to contact if not for Facebook. It is not that I don’t like this person – I do. I have very fond memories of our friendship. But we were never really very close, and it is odd that I would have expectations from this person who would not expect anything from me. Should I run into him one day it will be a very pleasant experience – just not one that makes Facebooking each other a requirement.
So in the end the good is good, the bad is just bizarre, and the ugly isn’t really ugly so much as just a bit peculiar. The real miracle is that people whom I did not know would again be part of my life or that I would ‘speak’ to now more than when we wandered the same halls are a presence in my world. With some it is just the occasional comment on the same thread, or a shared memory. With others it is a friendship renewed or finally born. However you look at it, Facebook has made each day one where my past and my present come together neatly; where my mother’s best friend speaks regularly with my friend from the local coffeeshop and my fellow high school political upstart chats with the author I recently befriended after having read some of his work. Facebook has married my past and my present in a way that was inconceivable not long ago, and for that I am grateful. Besides, amongst all of these people I have reconnected with someone has to know where I can find some wolves. Anyone?