Friday, February 27, 2009

you CAN go home again

I been thinking lately that facebook is really affecting our lives (at least the bazillion or so who are using it.) If we don't all get bored and replace it with virtual sky-diving or whatever, the patterns of our lives will continue to change. We know that we are more mobile than our grandparents' generation, but the Internet is facilitating a more subtle change from our parents'. We used to be able to think of our lives as phases, or stages, mostly broken up by school, family, etc.

For instance, my life can be divided into: childhood, spent mostly with Mom, elementary school, high school, college, the drifting you do after college, adulthood, job1, job2, job3, etc. My parents moved quite a bit when we were kids, so these divisions are even geographical in some cases. With each "stage" there was also a new group of friends. As I moved on (or was moved) most likely those friendships petered out or were forgotten. This is a sad, but typical part of growing up, which I had to get used to. But I am on facebook now, and miraculously have been put back in touch with people from my past that I had lost track of or who had lost track of me.

So what will this do to my sense of the past being the past?

If I am nostalgic for college, I don't have to try and root out some old photos and notebooks and sigh and think, whatever became of...all I have to do is check my updates and see that one friend is making chili for dinner, another is feeling frustrated about something, and another is making travel plans. They can look at my status and see that I just had a hot chocolate. I can even compartmentalize my friends by each period of my life or by location. And what about that one cool person from the not-so-cool job you both left years ago? Never going to see her again - but no, there she is, living in Florida. We can have a virtual Margarita together. With salt, if you please.

Facebook is even infiltrating into my family history. My Uncle John was always talking about his grandfather's brother, and how they both left Italy. Apparently his grandfather got on one boat, which landed in New York and that's where our branch of the family settled, and the other brother took a boat which headed for South America, possibly Argentina, and was never heard from again. A big family mystery that no one could ever solve, until...I don't have the full story yet, but I have been, through facebook, in contact with a whole new, young generation of folks with my same last name in Argentina, Chile, Spain and Italy. Pretty amazing.

What will this all mean? Will our lives become just one big blur, with past, present, and future all smushed together? Well, they probably already were, but facebook facilitates the blurring. I can't see anything really bad about any of this, but it is a little freaky sometimes to post an update and generate comments from a co-worker, a cousin, in Spanish, someone I haven't seen since high school, and an old college chum. But this is my blurry, modern, life.


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