Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Face It

I’ve been sucked into the vortex of Facebook. Or, as it is known by its friends, “fb.” I found myself missing “good old fashioned e-mail” yesterday. I thought I was so technical when I e-mailed everyone I knew. I would tell parting friends that I would “e-you” later. Today, that just sounds so “pre-millennial.” Now I tell them to “face” me sometime.

I spend a lot of my time lately treading water in cyberspace with the very real possibility of drowning if I let up my guard just a little. Just when I get competent in a technology a new one comes along. I think I may have heard my mother say that about the rotary dial telephone when push-button phones came out. My grandmother used to just pick up the phone and tell the operator at the other end who she wanted to talk to. I have a friend who can do that with her cell phone now. So times haven’t changed that much, have they? The only difference is that my grandmother had a live human being sitting around waiting for people to pick up their telephone and my friend has a computer with voice recognition waiting around for her. It all comes full circle eventually.

This Facebook thing has caught on. I’ve found friends I didn’t know I had. A kid from the Girl Scout troop I led 25 years ago found me. Actually, three of them from two different troops have found me. I’ve found a group for the friends of Pearlington, Mississippi—where I worked for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on Katrina recovery. Then I joined a group specifically for the planning team and staff for the Synod Youth Workshop where I spend the happiest ten days of July every year. There are just all sorts of interest groups available on facebook. I expect any day to find one for left-handed Lesbian Dental Assistants. Not that they would ask me to join --but they have a group for just about anyone and if you don’t find the one you’re looking for you can just start your own.

I found a couple of old boyfriends on the internet without much trouble. Actually, they found me. Which leads me into a delicate area of cyberspace. Pardon me for a minute:

ELLIOTT KAGEN: If you are out there—I didn’t mean to ignore your email last year. I left the next day to go to Mississippi and forgot to take your address with me. Then I didn’t come home until four months later and I couldn’t find your last message in my computer. And I just felt kind of funny asking my husband to help me find your address on my hard drive. SO—if you’re out there, write me again. Or face me.

Now, back to what I was saying. The world is just getting incredibly small now. I got a message in Spanish the other day asking me to connect with one of my friends from Guatemala. I just love this lady and was thrilled by the idea of being able to keep up with each other. The only problem is I don’t speak Spanish and Sonia doesn’t speak English.

So I spent an hour or so the other night with a Spanish dictionary trying to work the Guatemalan Facebook which is called HI 5. Almost immediately I discovered that one of my choices was to hit the button that said “borrar” and I found out that means “delete.” At that point every word started to have importance. So I stumbled through just a whole lot of words, scribbling the translations on paper. By the time I was done signing up to talk to Sonia I had learned a whole bunch of new words that are only good for computers. Like “leer el carreo” (read mail) and “Enviar mensaje” (send message)…..none of which tells me anything about Sonia’s grandchildren. But it’s a start. Maybe this will be a good way to learn Spanish.

Then I heard the Pope is on Facebook. Oh, come on—the Pope? At least that’s what our Parrish Associate tells me. How do you look him up? Do you just type in “Pope”? This begs the question: is he “in a relationship”?

Now that my daughters and I are on fb, the next step was getting Beaven on board. So any minute I expect him to hook up with every young cutie he ever knew from work ten years ago before he retired.

Email and blogs are just sooooooo 2008.

There have been great changes in the way our news is brought to us. And I’m not talking about CNN on TV; I’m talking about the print media. We’re texting and twittering all day long. My US News and World Report only comes to my street mailbox once a month now. The other three weeks a month I can download it to my computer….using my own time and paper to acquire what used to be delivered to me on by the mailman to the house. No drop in my subscription rate but at least the magazine is still solvent. I figure some will fade away from the economy. There is talk of some newspapers going broke and fading off into the sunset. But now you can get a book on Kindle instead of on paper.

I try to reassure myself that in the midst of all this change a few things won’t change. The means of delivering a message is changing –almost on an hourly basis, but the message, whatever it may be, is still no more and no less than a message: the message itself that we are communicating by whatever means. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? The thoughts, dreams, outrages, and serenades of words will still sprout, flower and spread out. No matter how we do it, we keep trying to communicate with each other. Maybe someday we will figure out whatever it is we’re trying to figure out.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Next time try "freetranslation.com"; it works for me when trying to help RT with German documents. Not completely accurate but close enough. And hey, I'll "tag" you on FB!
Hugs,
Vicki

nancy~ said...

In late night web prowlings I found this essay and couldn't help but send it to you...
"Joining Facebook has instead prompted a mini-crisis of faith, and a realization: Facebook is a better Christian than I am."
http://www.explorefaith.org/resources/blog/faithfully_reading/facebook_christianity.php

Anonymous said...

Here's a clever adaptation with Abraham Lincoln http://www.indyweek.com/pdf/020409/LincolnFacebook.jpg
nancy

jason_g said...

My wife has become obsessed with FB, joining groups left and right and finding friends from elementary school. Be careful. She has joined a group call, "Not now, mommie is facebooking!" Luckily, the kids are getting old enough that they aren't too concerned.