“I Read It On Facebook...”
Eric Renderking Fisk - December 10th, 2009
I'll admit to some hypocrisy on my end to some extent. I like to look
as if I have some aspects of my life stuck in The Golden Era with the type
of movies I like to watch and the music I listen to. But when it comes to
some of the latest and greatest in gadgets I'm far from a technophobe. I
like the look and feel of the bootlegger decades and I'll bend over backwards
trying to find away to make my laptop's desktop theme find it's vintage
vibe even before I've learned how to use it right. A man has to have his
priorities and I have a reputation to maintain.
When it comes down to it there are something's that need the traditional
approach. Like news that occurs in families - both good and bad. There's
nothing worse than hearing about something that happened second hand, followed
up with the phrase: "I read on Facebook."
A few months ago I was four states away enjoying the flu while at my
in-laws house and I was oblivious to what was going on in the rest of the
world sans the news about entire western civilization was either celebrating
or shunning the release of the new operating system from Microsoft. The
only reason why I know this is because I had to run out to the store in
my somewhat inebriated state after a few Nyquil and Vitamin C cocktails
to find my father-in-law a gift.
When I went to buy him his own Terabit External hard-drive, I couldn't
swing a dead Pentium over my head with out hitting some advertisement for
Microsoft's new OS. The world also sighed a technobable sigh of relief:
That's it, Windows 7 is finally released and we can all live happier knowing
that Vista is dead. Even though the long national computing nightmare is
over, I'll get more excited when I stop hacking up a third of my entire
body's supply of moisture with every cough.
Were it not for the trips to Staples or Best Buy, I wouldn't know or
even care enough to be tempted to take the plunge into the world of 64 bit
Operating Systems. I'm still getting used to the idea that I can fit more
then 20 compact disks into a storage device smaller than a pack of chewing
Meanwhile on the same weekend and back in my hometown, my nephew had
a horrible accident and hurt his back really bad while playing hockey. Then
again, it's hockey and maybe it was intentional on the part of the player
on the other side. My nephew fractured a couple of vertebra, the same type
of injury that almost killed my wife more than a year ago. (My wife's car
was "checked" by another driver from behind. Again, it's a long story.)
I had no idea that happened. Nor did I know that something horrible happened
to my sister's boyfriend, cut his finger pretty bad. My sister spent a horrible
weekend in the ER room without even getting a lousy T-Shirt. (I'm sure she
could pick out a wonderful gown with the straps and the back missing...
those can keep you busy on those slow nights at home.)
Like I said, I had no idea what happened. No phone calls, no text message
on the cell phone. Not that I could have been much help being so far south.
I would have liked to have known. I felt horrible for not knowing, like
it made me a bad uncle or a horrible brother. Or maybe even more horrible...
depending on her mood and her narrow view of me at any particular moment.
I could have known, if only I had access to a computer. I don't like
to spend too much time on my father-in-law's computer. I really hate checking
on my email, my MySpace, Tweets and of course Facebook. The only time I
like to be on the computer is when my father-in-law and I are doing something
together on it. Like showing him new things to do with it. The idea of doing
my own personal things on someone else's computer is just as cozy as using
someone else's toothbrush or wearing a strangers dirty underwear. (I have
no idea what that would be like, I can only imagine... really.)
This weekend it was Father/Daughter time while my wife and her dad they
were resetting the factory defaults and making his system run like new again.
Meanwhile I was listening to an audio book while switching back and forth
between consciousness thanks to the flu and the aforementioned drugs.
When I did get home a couple of days later (while using my own tooth
brush and wearing clean underwear) I checked all the services I read what
my sister had posted on her Facebook account. I was pretty mad that I had
to find out this way. I have no reason to be, she did tell everyone who
mattered through the fastest and most efficient way.
Maybe one of the best things about Facebook and other social networks
is that you can easily discover people whom you've lost touch with
and you can easily. Rekindling old relationships is just a click
away. Or just check up on them...
While I was doing one of these searches, I
typed up a name from long ago, the person who was responsible for
"Rick Cafe" rant. Did she ever clean up her act? Or at least
catch up on her laundry? Was she still a man-eater?
Fact is, there are some secrets that should
remain buried. I found out that she's claiming that 19 or 20 years
ago she lost a baby girl named "Angelia Lynn." who was born December
8th, 1988. Elsewhere she's claiming that she recently lost an almost
20 year old daughter who was born on December 8th, 1988...
Same first name, same middle name... different
I knew this woman back then. I can tell
you that none of this is true. It would have been impossible to
hide a baby, even from someone who can be as obtuse as me sometimes.
People who knew her back then and still know
her now are vaguely aware of this thing that's happening now. She's
a liar, or she has a really bad mental illness and this is a really
sick attention getting device.
There're one more thing you don't want to learn
via Facebook or other sites - that someone you used to share
your life with is yet another kind of cheat. The kind of cheat who
would lie about losing a child to garner sympathy from other moms
who really did lose children on their on social networking sites...
[Return To The Top Of This section...]
I'm trying to think of a good reason
why I think that this should torque me off. I thought I had the angle
when I asked our mother if she heard anything and I was the first one
to tell her. She asked me how I knew and I told her "I read it on Facebook."
She laughed - is this it? Is this what we've come to? You have to find
out everything like everyone else on Facebook?
I didn't have the nerve to tell her that at that moment I was eating
a burger at my favorite retro-joint and reading all of this via someone
else's Wi-Fi that I hacked into while updating my Twitter. On my brand
new laptop. With Windows 7.
Is this such a bad thing? Is getting your news about your friends
and family via social networks on the internet so bad? There was once
a time when you could just e-mail everyone. Before that, you had to
telephone people one at a time. You would call someone and they would
call other people. And before that, telegraphs or telegrams. If you
have important news now, you can do so via a couple of services. Everyone
who needs to know everything now can know as long as they have a computer
and a connection. Which is one of the reasons why I have my own laptop
that can go anywhere I can. The only people who don't know are those
who chose to live in some type of digital exile.
I want to say that it's kind of cold to tell everyone that something
good or bad just happened. I can't even say that. There is some kind
of warmth spreading news this way, your own way with your own words.
Maybe even use a picture.
The only way that finding out something via Facebook would be cold
or inappropriate would be if there was something that you should be
the first to know. Like you find out your wife or girlfriend was pregnant
through a Facebook announcement. Or finding out that someone you loved
died via Facebook. Or that you're breaking up through your significant
other's status. How would that feel, checking up on the one you love
and seeing that he or she is now "Single" under their status?
One of the things that I'm discovering yet again is that the technology
isn't bad. It's what we do with it. A hammer can be used to build a
home and provide shelter for a family - or can be used to break open
someone's melon. All of this technology and connectivity can be used
to build people up or tear people down. How can we better use this technology
and not exclude people? I maintain that the internet should be used
to bring people together and teach each other that we have more in common.
Many of us need to look at ways of using this technology in ways that
don't alienate people or highlight our differences.
At the same time, we also need to remember that not everyone uses the
same services, nor will ever want to. There are still some people that need
a phone call or a direct e-mail. Would it kill you to call your mom first
before you update your Facebook status once in a while, especially when
it counts? We should all use a little class and tact when going on line.
Sometime in the near future, I'm going to have to write a rant about
how there are something's you have to tell people in person. That's for