I had to be pressured to open a Facebook account, and here I am, fingers cramping from holding my iPhone keeping up. I don’t know if I’m already hooked, but few free moments go by I’m not checking it out.
As it is, I’m snatching precious time away from other less enjoyable but worthy endeavors—like organizing closets, inventorying linens—to watch the cutest videos of children and animals.
I also savor those of modern and classical art, music and theater and feel the world a better place despite everything else that’s happening. Nothing beats Facebook for putting me through a whole gamut of emotions in one day.
Someone just sent me a video of the great pianist-comedian, dignified-looking Victor Borge, who obviously can still irreverently crack me up. All day long I keep breaking into chuckles whenever Borge excerpts pop to mind.
Inspirational quotations and prayers uplift me; a reckless comment from an old friend who does not agree with me politically saddens me. As much as I’m a believer in prayers, I’m not forwarding those that promise blessings only if you resend them to 10 people within the day, otherwise… Until someone complained, I had kept typing “Amen!” before dutifully passing it on.
My husband is probably one of the few holdouts. Facebook doesn’t appeal to him, well maybe because I already share the good stuff with him, but to him, it’s all in all a mere diversion.
Not that he hasn’t got his hand on his iPhone as often, if not more often, since he’s gotten used to writing and editing on it on the run, in the car, in traffic, in restaurants, and other waiting places like the doctor’s or dentist’s. Unlike him, I need to shut off my surroundings to be able to concentrate on writing—I need complete silence with my laptop at home—and other serious work.
But I do use my phone’s Notes to jot down ideas for this column, which I’ve been doing—and I’m surprised myself—for nearly five years. I see life in columns now. It’s my age; things make better sense.
Facebook allows me to reconnect and touch base with friends and acquaintances, especially those abroad or those I don’t see often enough. For close pals there’s Viber. I belong to a few Viber groups. I Facetime with a son abroad. There are excellent recipes and news and articles, as well as health tips for sharing.
Facebook comments and pictures can be enjoyable or interesting. I feel welcome to make a comment myself; I think I’m expected to. Facebook reminds me of birthdays and gives me a chance to greet celebrator friends.
But I don’t let the gadget come between me and Vergel, though. Whenever it does, you can be sure, it’s with mutual consent. I do Facebook mostly at home, while he is at work himself, which he is most of his waking hours.
Whenever he’s using his iPhone and I’m on Facebook, outsiders looking in may get the impression we’ve stopped enjoying each other’s company or have been married too long. Actually, we’re allowing each other to access space but remaining open to interruptions. He gets my full attention the moment he reads me what he has written so far, for feedback—as I myself get his when I can’t wait to share a video or quotation I know he’ll love.
But I can see how Facebook, and other similar technological insinuations (Twitter, Instagram) can consume someone younger—indeed, distract anyone of whatever age—to the point of neglecting more worthwhile undertakings, like reading—a book, I mean.
While it’s true that Facebook can connect us to people who are far, it can also just as easily disconnect us from people in front of us. Experts have now coined a word for it—“phubbing.”
I’ve seen it happen between teenage pairs and older couples. But phubbing isn’t new; couples were publicly ignoring each other before Facebook or texting.
In his time, Dad, while in restaurants, liked to point out silent couples looking past each other, and pronounce them “man and wife.”
William Zinsser, in his book, “Writing Places,” talks of people who miss out on the experience of the place they are in, because they are connected, by an electronic chip, to people who are not there. He laments: “Their thoughts are not on Lexington Avenue, or on the pleasure of being alive in that time and place…”
Still and all, it’s a pleasure to be on Facebook—better than playing Solitaire, another solo exercise I prefer to mahjong, a game friends of mine enjoy and have been at for years. With all the freedom and precious time we have in our hands, my generation’s priorities remain clear. I’ve never missed a deadline, for instance. There just seems nothing I cannot take or leave if it gets in the way of simple pleasures, little responsibilities, and time for my youngest grandchild who still enjoys her Mamita.
I hope the young will know how to maximize the use of Facebook and at the same time learn to limit its use. Listen to the excellent and wise writer Zinsser and experience being alive in the moment, with the person we are actually with, and the place we are at, Lexington Street, or wherever.