I’ve been on Facebook for a few years now and have come to know it as a river that runs through my life. By that I mean it’s nice to know it’s there, but I don’t go swimming all the time.
I like Facebook because it allows me to wade into this river of information that runs continuously an
d curiously alongside my real life. On occasion, I dip my net into the river to get a sample of what’s going on in other people’s lives.
In a way, it’s like voyeurism, like lifting the shades into somebody’s house and getting a peak at what they’re doing, what they think, who they’re mad at, who they love, who they’ve lost, and how they feel about life in general.
While not everybody swimming by is a close friend, I usually have some idea of who they are or how they’re connected to somebody I know. Some, however, are friends I’m yet to meet, even though I already know a lot about them.
After a while you get to know who’s dramatic and who’s thoughtful and who’s funny and who’s distraught and who’s got kids going off to college and who’s just had a new baby or grandchild and who’s watching it rain and who’s going out on the town with friends and who’s at a ballgame and who’s on vacation and who’s still angry about the latest election. All in about a minute.
By dropping this dipnet into the river I can check the pulse of the community (more than 3,000 friends) and learn things I didn’t know before, even if they are things I wish I hadn’t learned.
Some people have no shame when it comes to sharing their intimate details about their lives. But you always have to remember what Facebook is all about – what we see is only what that person wants us to see. We all get to portray ourselves in a certain public image on Facebook. Nobody, for instance, looks as good as their profile photo. And if there is no profile photo, well, you can only imagine.
So instead of obsessing about what I might miss on Facebook if I don’t drill deep into the depths of all this information, I’m content to sit on the bank and watch it flow casually by, checking the net every now and then just to see and be seen, then nodding off in the shade of anonymity.