Friday, June 8, 2012

Lemons & Cherries on Facebook

I read that in the not-too-distant future, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will merge to form one giant, idiotic, super-sized, time-wasting, non-productive, mind-numbing, do-not-need-to-know website called YouTwitFace. 

I read it on Facebook.   

There’s no denying, so much of the stuff that shows up on Facebook is inane:  “‘Share’ if you love your kids more than anything.  It’s a shame how few people will take this simple step to show their love for their family.”   

So, you mean if I don’t ‘share,’ I don’t love my kids?  Uh oh.  On penalty of not proving my love for the requisite thing, God, country, or bar-b-qued beef, I decline to repost pretty much anything that tells me to repost it.  Just on principle.  Or obstinate defiance.  Quit telling me what to do.  Share this if you agree. 

Too many posts manage to shrink the trivial from microscopic to subatomic:  Sandy changed her profile pic! – Hello Kitty!  Or:  Sherry “likes” Target.  Or:  Boating - 1,948,515 people like this.  Be the first of your friends! 

So many people post pictures of their food!  Who knew that lunch with Dad would warrant the effort?  And so misguided!  The pic includes salads, sides, and entrees, but no likeness of the man who raised the photographer and most likely bought him the camera.   

Then there’s the unbearable cuteness of dancing doggies, piles of kittens, ducks rescued from drainage pipes, and deer touching noses with goats.  Oh my.  But full disclosure is in order:  I look forward to a video posted daily from  This morning I frittered away 1 minute 29 seconds on “A pig and his oatmeal.”  So worth it. 

And I confess; I smile at the pics of people with their pets.  All that unabashed love and foolishness.  Count me in.  Grandbabies?  Oh yeah.  I grin and coo at the screen every day, time after time, with each new wobble or burp.   

Here’s how I see it:  I’m experiencing joy that would be out of my consciousness had little Markie Zuckerberg chosen to compose music instead of computer code.  A rationalization, you say?  So be it. 

When I was a classroom teacher 100 years ago, (1990), I traveled to the (then) Soviet Union with a couple of other teachers and 25 high school students.  What a great experience.  I’ll tell you about it sometime.   

One of the best things about the trip was our courier, Tatyana, a teacher from Grodno.  She spent three weeks shepherding us through that conglomerate of contradictions.  She knew everything, translated everything.  Because of her, everything was possible.  

You form a bond after 21 days of total dependence. 

After that trip, Tatyana and I wrote back and forth the hard way.  I just couldn’t bring myself to use Microsoft Word when she didn’t even have a computer!  Ten years or more of beautiful, enlightening, tedious, handwritten letters.  Then alas, we fell out of touch. 

But lo and behold, thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev and Mark Z., Tatyana found me last week – you guessed it – on Facebook.  Say what you will about hoodies and IPO’s, you’ve gotta admit that’s pretty cool. 

A young woman whose family moved back to Cairo before she graduated from the high school where I was principal friended me on Facebook.  (Isn’t it great that “friend” became a verb?)  Through her postings, I had the privilege of witnessing the Egyptian revolution from her personal, life-altering point of view.   

She’s now a university student there majoring in political science and journalism.  Most recently, she posted pictures showing her interview of former President Jimmy Carter.  That’s my girl!   

Another alum posted video of himself rehearsing with John Legend for an upcoming episode of “Duets.”  You’re not going to get that on Gmail.   

So instead of slamming Facebook in its entirety, I embrace it like a weekend in Las Vegas.  It’s the nickel slot machine of my online gambling experience.  Mostly my deposits earn mismatched cryptograms and lemons.  They tax my time, threaten my dignity, and even chip at my self-respect.  If my husband walks into the room, I must have my justifications ready for time ill spent.   

But just often enough, it comes up with a few cherries and the jingle of a payout.  So I keep going back.