I Read It On Facebook...

Eric Renderking Fisk - December 10th, 2009 Bookmark and Share

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 gum.

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.

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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 the "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 last names.

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 another time.Bookmark and Share