Saturday, November 08, 2008

Facebookedness First Finale (part I): Naked in High School

Right around Yom Kippur this year, I did something on-line that felt really good. I was “social networking.”

Over the past several months social networking sites like Facebook have overtaken porn sites in popularity, according to Reuters and an article last week in the UK Guardian. The article has been posted a lot on Facebook profiles and received a lot of diggs at DIGG.com.

Everybody’s doing it, or at least “three in four US online adults,” according to a recent report by Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.

And that’s what is so amazing. The massive proliferation of Facebook and LinkedIn has brought it closer to the white pages than any earlier iteration of America On-line or other “services.”

I been doing things on-line for years, right? But something was different this time. What did I do on Facebook? I atoned. I made recompense.

And I reconnected with a group of old high school friends through Facebook about a stretch of time when we all defined ourselves together for a moment.

Together we attended a small, progressive, predominantly Jewish high school in Baltimore. It’s was the 80’s and we were very into politically progressive, grassroots punk rock music.

With all this necessary and remarkable talk about the growth in networking utilities, like twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn -- what really amazed me about this exchange was that I was accessing formative years in a way that was new and psychologically instructive. I learned so much about others, with whom I had been out of touch for decades, and myself. I made peace with my past.


You can now conjure up the past. It’s palpable, even dream-like.

But rather than reliving seminal moments and walking through your old high school naked, only to wake up and find it’s time to go to work -- now, with the new social networking tools so well "populated," you are there again.

With Facebook especially, you can really and truly uncover those once locker-bound legions and write them in a way that is new a rich with content.

There are no more six degrees of separation (LinkedIn likes to play of the “degrees of separation” concept). It seems like now you really can now connect to everyone you have ever known and everyone they ever told you about.

You can say, “Sorry.” You can convey a crush and thank them for helping to form your life. Long harbored resentment can now be released and redirected.

What unfolded from there was a series of discussions about relationships that might have been lost to memory and isolated recollection without Facebook.

To quote a friend who I share this story with, “This is SO much cheaper than therapy.” And in some way it is really. You are connecting with your past and actually exchanging information in a meaningful way, full of metaphor, scents, memory, confession and the wisdom to compliment and admire others.

*read on*

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep!

coworker Linda

marin camille said...

you totally rock.

springthyme said...

Great essay...completely true. Thank you for crystallizing this pop culture phenom into what makes it so personal and special.

Stephanie said...

Today 5 of my high school friends and I suddenly noticed a 6th friend being awfully quiet on Facebook. 60 minutes and 14 messages swapped between the 5 of us later, it was determined our former class president would email her directly to try and figure out what happened (she deleted her facebook page without so much as a peep to anyone). Basically, 16 years since we saw each other and we're still looking out for each other, caring and sharing and praying for one another's safety and happiness.
Facebook is an extraordinary thing.
You can also make new friends *goofygrin*

James G. Leventhal said...

love this...all too "real."