I had a chat with a co-worker on the way to the parking garage the other day. Let’s call him, Scott. Actually, that is his name, so, yeah, let’s call him that. Scott admitted to a not uncommon childhood fantasy that I also had when I was in 1st or 2nd grade: that people in our lives are just actors and when we leave the room, they revert to their actual lives. AHEM, like I said, a not uncommon childhood fantasy!
The reason I bring it up is because it relates to a question I’ve been having lately. I’ve been questioning whether I should continue using Facebook. Should I just stop posting and going to the site, or should I delete my account altogether. I see more and more information about internet commercial privacy policies and I don’t like it. Mind you, I don’t care about posting information that my friends can see– I just don’t want Facebook, or Google for that matter, to cross reference any usage stats about me and sell them to third parties…or use them to market to me themselves.
Thing is, I can’t quite seem to bring myself to press the “confirm” button and delete my account and it has me scratching my head a little. What’s the big draw to Facebook for me?
I think a big answer is– it’s fascinating to see how lives ebb and flow when the, ahem, actors go about their lives.
Back in the 90′s, there was a reporter on a CBS Morning News program that would put a thumb tack in a map to select a small town in the country from which he’d report an interesting feature story. I loved having a glimpse into the life of a stranger, albeit, a stranger who was interesting enough to have part of their life packaged into 3 minutes of morning television. We live in a huge country with people from all different walks of life. Still, we all suffer the same human condition. When I take the subway, I look at fellow riders and wonder what their lives must be like. Their stories, their ups or downs.
And that’s what I love about Facebook.
Sure, it’s interesting to see people I haven’t seen since I graduated from High School. This person lives here. That person is there. So and so is bald. So and so hasn’t aged. So and so has had a lot of work done. Yada yada yada.
What I find much more interesting is to click on the link of someone tagged in a photo of a friend– the person I don’t know. What about the human condition sticks out from them. My niece would call that Facebook stalking. I think stalking takes it to a different level. Still, seeing the human condition play out in snapshots on Facebook is fascinating. Celebrations, slices of life, mileposts or as Jim McKay used to narrate, the agony of defeat.
Our worlds are, relatively speaking, very small. In some ways, as society’s pace races to ever faster speeds, our worlds have to be small just to keep up. But at least for me, I want to see more than maybe I can on my own, at least right now as a suburban husband and father.
So will I leave Facebook? Not sure. Would ya miss me, Scott? Or would I just be an actor who went home.