Monday, October 17, 2011
I've been thinking about Facebook a bit lately.
I love it really. It is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with my many nieces and nephews who are at that fluid age where they're either travelling the world or changing jobs, boyfriends and flats as often as the weather changes. If it wasn't for Facebook, the fact is that for most of them (I have somewhere around approaching 30 nephews and nieces) I'd just be the Aunty Rachel they have somewhere on the family tree with no personal relationship. Which for me, coming from a close family and one with Maori heritage where family relationships (no matter what the connection) are important, is difficult to accept that in the modern world, these relationships are not so vital.

So I love facebook for the way it keeps them in my life, and me in theirs.

But Facebook, for me, has also bought up many conflicting emotions, especially when it comes to having contact with people that I thought had dropped out of my life. Like highschool friends or old boyfriends.

The trouble is that it conjurs up so many feelings and emotions and memories that were stuffed at the back of my brain-files and bringing them out for an airing can be conflicting and disturbing.

The other problem is that I have a terribly good memory. I think it's probably better than most people's memory. I know that my childhood friends who are still my dear friends have relied on me to recount events and things they have forgotten. It's fun to remember the good times, the wildly hilarious things that we used to do and say - like remembering how we once thought (at 12 years old) that shaving your legs was a sin! Most of my friends had forgotten that, but remembering it for me is like thinking of a conversation we had yesterday. We are sitting under a tree at Marlborough Girl's College having our lunch and a healthy debate with some of our non-church school friends. We thought ourselves so right and so pious!

Those are good memories and those are friends that I expect to have all my life. Even outside facebook we still maintain contact.

But then there's the friends from school who now live very different lives and our common interest has disappeared; and what about the old boyfriends? Good memories, but sometimes painful memories, like the boyfriend I had right through highschool and into my twenties but who, in the end, broke my heart.
The other boyfriend I dated because I thought it would be a 'lark', not because I liked him. He was good to me and I feel embarrased to see him on facebook now even though he's quite obviously moved on now that he's married. But I remember everything from that time and what I thought of him and what I said about him.

Then there's the work colleagues - and I worked in a christian ministry - people you shared long hours with and deep conversations and moving experiences with. So many of these people live overseas, but I still think about them, remember how it was when we were together. But there was a time (before facebook) when we had very little or no contact. Now, suddenly, they are back in my life. How do you deal with that? How do you accept the fact that they were ok with you not being in their lives for quite a few years? One very old friend from the USA asked to be friends with me on facebook, but when I replied with a little 'hello, how are you" message and said I'd like to send them a copy of my children's book as we'd shared some writing experiences when we were in the ministry together, I never heard back from them.

And then there are the people I've never met - I have penfriends all over the world which is so much fun, and blogging friends who I love but have never met in person who are as much a part of my life, if not more so, than some of the people who live in my street.

What a funny old world it is, and what  a funny place Facebook is really. But I struggle with these conflicting emotions, memories and feelings that Facebook conjurs up in my life. How do you deal with that? I'd love to hear what you think on this.


Diane N. said...

Hi Rachel, Thanks for bringing up this topic. I've never joined Facebook in part for issues you mentioned - and also because my time is so limited. I'm concerned it'd become another thing to check daily.

So far my answer has been not to join, and maybe not ever to join! But there are old friends who've tried to find me there who I would like to hear from, but they won't email instead. Oh well!

Glen and Andrea said...

Hi there,
I've been reading your blog for a while now. I found it when I was reading a sewing blog I love in my google reader and read your comment and saw that your title said 'far side of the world' I was intrigued and wondered if you were also from NZ or maybe Aus. I was very surprised to see that you live just down the road from me! I blogged for several years but have stopped now as life has become extremely busy. But I wanted to say hi and that I enjoy your blog and love your sewing creations!
On the topic of facebook - I completely agree with you. I joined about 4 years ago and found it not quite right for a few reasons. It also uses so much of people's time that I think is being taken from time with their children or other productive things.

Cate said...

I really hear you on this one Rachel! I need Facebook as a means of staying in touch with my far-flung nieces and nephews too. I get a bit freaked out though at being approached by random people from places I've moved on from - it creates a real dilemma of not wanting to reject them, but also not wanting to "go back" to that time again.

Sandy Addison said...

Facebook love it or hate is a part of our world these days. I do love the aspect of how it keeps you in touch with others old and new. You still have the power to choose who you accept as your friends so if you have closed that chapter of your life and do not wish to revisit then you still have the power to say no to their request. But I thing most people do not say no a request out of curiosity of to where that person is and who they have become, are they still the same or have they morphed into someone else. I found my best friend from high school on FB after loosing touch with her 15 years ago and trying very unsuccessfully to find her via conventional means. How much time do you guys spend on it to find it takes so much time from your family - I find blogging takes more time (and reading them) as I am on once a day for 5 to 10 minutes, and usually when it is a time when the kids are not here. I suppose what I am saying like everything embrace it but do it so you are in control not your friends or old friends!

Anonymous said...

Has been some time since I came by, but had to say, I so agree with you on Facebook. There were ways, good ways, to connect before Facebook. We also have the situation of our children who will post stuff for the whole world (including kin who have been less than good friends) and not tell us. We knew this was a liklihood prior and that had much to do with our choice to NOT go there. We are still glad we made that choice. In fact, recently at work they put out a memo of the dangers of Facebook (hacked numerous times weekly) and did not want their empolyees on there. With good reason seems to us. I am reminded of people who upon getting a computer years ago (and email) said we can stay in contact more closely now. Has not happened yet, these many years hence. So we are not missing a thing staying off of Facebook, twitter, etc. The cell phone, email, and the mail work just fine...still. And I have "met" some lovely folks online in their blogs, etc. Many opportunities. Enjoyed your thoughts on this!!

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