Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

I was recently called out on a social network by a woman I don’t know who has no clue who I am. It was over a man (isn’t it always?) who was “friends” with both of us. I’ve known “Bob” for 15 years and I’m friends with he and his wife in the real world. In addition to his regular full-time job, Bob is a part-time actor, mostly on a regional basis, but he’s been in enough stuff that he has “fans” (which cracks his wife and I up). That’s why this woman sent him a friend request. Because she’s a fan.

It started as a simple back and forth between Bob and I over what he’s got coming up for projects. Four posts in, the fan (let’s call her Alice) piped in. O.K., social networks are all about NETWORKING, right? Building relationships. So the conversation became a party line and it went back and forth innocently enough until Alice threw in something a bit provocative. Suddenly I’m getting a text from Bob saying, “WTF? What do I say to THAT?” To which I commented online, “I’m pretty sure his wife takes care of that already.” Alice was not amused and WHAP! Virtual bitch slap to the side of my head. The conversation rapidly grew nasty (on her end, not ours) and ended with her announcing “you may have won this time but next time, you won’t be so lucky”. Won? I didn’t even know I was playing the game. Bob has since blocked Alice and deleted all of her posts and I’m pretty sure somewhere in Pennsylvania, there’s an angry little woman who hates my guts.

Relationships. Are they so different in the virtual world? I get that Facebook and Twitter and blogs give us the opportunity to put ourselves out there and interact and engage with people we don’t get the chance to meet face to face. That’s why I participate. But aren’t there any rules in the virtual world? Courtesies? Boundaries? Or do we toss those out the window the minute we send that friend request or start following someone? We’re out there, they’re out there…maybe the gloves are off.

I approach these online relationships the same way I do the face-to-face ones. I seek out interesting, funny, creative, adventurous, thinking people, make that first contact (follow, friend, comment), develop a rapport, and see where it goes. I’m not in their face about it, I don’t comment on their EVERY post, and I sure don’t expect them to comment on everything I say or do. You don’t do that with your friends in the real world, do you?

But there are those among us who seem desperate for that level of attention. In the social network mosh pit, they’re the drunk chick in the middle of the room ripping off her shirt and flinging it over her head, shrieking, “Look at me! Look at me!” (I’ve got a true story post about something like that, better saved for another day). People who are so intent on building the relationship, that they grasp at any opportunity to be noticed. To be more than a face in the crowd.

I know a shrieker and honestly, this person is ticking me off. When they started liking and/or following some of the same people and things I do, I thought, “Great! Maybe I’m influencing someone to try something new.” When it became nearly everything and everyone I was expressing an interest in, I thought, “O.K., that seems sort of excessive and these things have never interested you before but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.” Then they began inserting themselves into one-on-one conversations I was having online and dropping my name to “friends” in an effort to get a response. When I got that first direct message asking “Do you really know this person? What’s their deal?“, that’s when I got pissed. “Get your own life!“ I wanted to scream. “Quit riding my relationship coattails, you leech!“ Then I wondered if I had a reason to be mad. The virtual world is open country; did I have a right to tell this person to get off my land? I don’t know but it’s still bugging me.

I like to think that all this online interaction is about exploring new ideas, sharing opinions, meeting new people, expanding our possibilities. If it’s really just a big battle for attention, for God’s sake, somebody set me straight. Because if that’s what it is, I’ve been hanging out in the locker room not knowing that my match has been called and I’m seconds away from a forfeit. I’m willing to come out swinging; shy and timid are not my words and I can pack a pretty mean punch if I have to. So tell me what the rules are, or if they even exist. Help me out here – we’re friends, aren’t we?

St. Nick, filled with holiday spirit...and a 40-watt light bulb

In the 1970’s in southern Minnesota, Santa lived in a little red house downtown. The place was small and fairly sparse, but with enough electricity to run the Christmas lights and a space heater. Even so, Santa sometimes wore coveralls when the Midwestern winters got too cold. Rumor had it that old Saint Nick used the biffy at Wallace’s Department Store and ate his meals at Jake’s Pizza, and maybe even indulged in some holiday spirits at the Blazer Bar on an occasional evening. When he wasn’t making toys or feeding reindeer or something.

In the days before shopping malls, Santa was a one-man show. He told you where to line up, called you in when it was your turn, kept track of your wish list, and handed you a candy cane before he hustled you out the door. And if you wanted your picture taken on Santa’s lap, that was your parents’ job. He didn’t need any bossy elves in pointy boots helping him; there wasn’t room in the little red house for them anyway.

Back before Facebook and Twitter and texting, Santa had to work to find out who was naughty or nice. He did it the old-fashioned way – with a complex network of spies, operatives and snitches. In the two months before Christmas, you suspected everybody of working for the Man in Red. Family members, neighbors, teachers, store clerks, complete strangers who looked at you funny. And that little girl Nora who lived in the big white house around the corner. You just knew she was ratting you out, payback for making her eat worms during the previous summer. Crybaby.Tattletale.

We’d spend the week before Christmas looking over our shoulders, making sure nobody was lurking, watching, waiting for us to screw up so they could tell old Santa, “When you get to the Collins house this year, buddy, just keep on going. Those girls don’t deserve nothing!” My sister and I even called a truce that week every year, neither of us willing to fight lest we ended up Christmas morning with an empty tree skirt and limp Christmas stockings.

These days, you can find Santa sitting on a throne in center court, surrounded by a dazzling Winter Wonderland display, assisted by an army of helpers who lead, direct, cajole, and charge you $10 for a digital picture of your smiling child bouncing on Kris Kringle’s knee. Compared to him, the Santa of 40 years ago must seem like just a cheery old bum in a little red house. God, I miss that guy.

Remember your first trip to see Santa Claus? Were you scared, excited, awestruck? Or (Eegads!) were you a non-believer?

 

The great thing about being Facebook friends with artistic people is that they turn you on to other artistic people. Such was the case today with actor Kirk Acevedo who shared a link to his wife actress Kiersten Warren’s blogspot “Ramblin Christian Gypsy”.  Fantastic imagery, diverse themes, quirky humor and some awesome photographs to boot. Personal faves are “Harlan”, “What Was That? Oh Nothing.”, and “I Would Call Her Krosgaard”. Pick your own by checking out Kiersten’s site at http://kierstenwarren.tumblr.com/

What Do You Take?

Posted: May 28, 2011 in Weather
Tags: , , , , ,

I ran into an old friend of mine today. She was standing in the entryway of her new home, arms thrown open as if in greeting, the chatter of others echoing from the rooms around her.  She looked shocked to see me and when I walked forward and she gave me a hug, she said, “How did you know we were in trouble?” “I’m intuitive that way,” I said. “Thought you could use some help.”

The “trouble” is the rising Missouri River, which is steadily overflowing its banks, driven by the increasing flows from the Oahe Dam which officials say are necessary because of the heavy snowmelts and record rainfalls coming from areas beyond our state’s borders. Shit may roll downhill but water doesn’t, at least not this water. It hurtles, rages, heaves as it comes out of the tubes at the stilling basin then weaves itself into the river and snakes its way downstream. Now it colors outside the lines, creeping over the edges of the land that normally holds it in check, flowing across lawns, pooling in parking lots, washing away roads. That’s what’s happening in Amy’s neighborhood and that’s why I’m there.

Her shock at seeing me was genuine; we haven’t talked to each other, in person, in a couple of years. Not that we’re fighting or anything (not that I’m aware of anyway); more just busy. You know how that goes. Jobs, family, commitments. Sometimes friendships fade over time, even if you don’t intend for them to. But we’re Facebook friends and when I saw her recent posts about sand-bagging her home, her new home that took years to materialize, I figured it was time for a reunion.

Amy quickly filled me in. They’d gotten the word this morning that the road to their housing development would likely be underwater and impassable by this evening. That meant not only did they have to reinforce the sandbags and quickly construct a berm but they had to get out – now – while there was still a road to get out on.

While I joined Amy’s family and friends in packing, hauling and tossing their possessions, it struck me that there are so many things you can live without that you never thought you could. When push comes to shove and you have hours to decide what has to go in the horse trailer and what can ride out the flood on an upper floor, what do you take?

Family pictures, furniture with history, the kids favorite toys, all find spots in the trailer. A desk too heavy to move, a pantry brimming with canned goods, decorative things that can be replaced, all will ride out the flood in the house. I watched Amy make a multitude of snap decisions today, choices I knew she never thought she’d have to make but when the water’s lapping at the back door and you’re looking out over the sandbag hill in your front yard at a neighborhood hurriedly working to save itself, you make ’em.

The residents and businesses in our area who are being impacted by the floodwaters have been preparing for days but it will be months before it’s all over and who knows how it will turn out? We’re fortunate in a way because we’ve had some advance warning, even if the information we’re getting is constantly changing. I think about the residents in Joplin and other communities devastated by tornados and I wonder: in times like that, when your choices are made in seconds or minutes instead of hours, what do you take? Yourself. Your family. Your faith that you’ll make it through this alive. And your hope that things will get better, however long that takes. If you leave with those things, you’ve got a fighting chance.