Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Artifice of Intimacy

Social networking seemed at first to me like its target audience would be the tweens and teens who clatter away, communicating with their flying text fingers instead of their mouths. But since my husband is a teacher, we wanted to see what the younguns were up to on the old internets. We each got Facebook accounts, and we have officially joined the swirling, hyping horde.

And I love it.

I love that my kids' classmates moms are on there and I know what they do when they're not being "moms." I love seeing what former classmates are up to, who's married and who had kids and who moved. It is like a huge online reunion.

Which is also what makes me squirm.

When I accept a friend request, suddenly, someone I haven't seen in ages knows exactly what I'm doing, what I'm thinking and where I'm going. My friend can't imagine anyone would care that she is now shopping for doggie diapers or listening to piano practice. Writing my status updates, on the other hand, are the highlight of my day.

That is until I realize who has access to it. The cute boys I crushed on, the popular girls who loathed me (or vice verse), the friend who fell through the cracks, the drifter no one really knew.

It seems strange to me that items intended for people who know me now are being passed along to people who knew me then. And yes, they are two different people. Same name, different ideas. The mommies I talk to in pickup line want the deets on the new yarn store I checked out. And so do the friends from science class who didn't know I know how to knit.

Does having someone in your friends profile mean they know who you are?


  1. Having someone in your friends profile means they have some connection to you, however slim or ancient.
    I laugh at 25 year olds I know "reconnecting" with college friends on Facebook.
    The nice thing about these interfaces for those of us over the age of 35 is that we are so many years removed and most of what we chat about are the happy and proud moments of our lives and theirs.
    It's fun to share our nicest photos of ourselves and our adorable kids.
    Facebook and other sites let us go back in time to those we knew when we were kids and show them that we turned out o.k.
    And it's alright that they see our good side.
    I don't want them to see me hollar at my kids or my many failures.
    And I don't want to see theirs.
    I'm too busy sharing those things with the people I've chosen to spend my day to days with.