Friend Me, Tag Me, Call Me in the Morning

Posted on January 6, 2012

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(The following is the tenth in my new series, “Old Posts to Dredge out on Slow Weekends Because When I Posted Them Originally People Cared More About the Economy and World Peace Than My Blog.” Although nothing has changed, it’s the start of a slow weekend, blogging-wise.)

London Daughter has asked that I write about Boomers on Facebook.  I’m not sure how she phrased it, but it might have been “Gee Mommy, since your generation, especially the Class of ’69 of which you were such an integral part, is so much more fascinating than mine could ever be, what with your superior music, activism, hairstyles, and recreational drugs, you should write a column about how your generation does in the World of Facebook.” Or maybe she said, “Hey, why don’t you write about old people on Facebook.”  I can’t remember.  Either way, I’m up to the challenge.

The obvious answer is that Facebook has given us a way to communicate with each other that is dramatically different from anything we have ever done before.  We grew up with three modes of communication at our disposal.  We could be in the same general area as another person and either talk to them face-to-face (if in the same room) or yell (possibly with cupped hands, if we were out of eyesight of each other).  We could write letters. We could use the telephone, and, since a lot of phones had “party lines,” in which more than one person shared the same phone line, we could, anytime we wanted, listen to another person’s conversation until that person started yelling “Ged offa th phone before I tell yer mother!,” which was especially interesting because we didn’t know who they were and they didn’t know who we were.  Now, Facebook gives us the ability to talk with countless people at exactly the same time, and we can inform them of our deepest, most private and profound thoughts, things like “I have just finished an entire quart of Ben and Jerry’s ‘World Conference of Every Possible Ingredient That Could Go Into Ice Cream Plus Avocado and Nacho Extravaganza.’  Can someone please call 911?”

A bonus is how Facebook has expanded our lives.  We grew up in a diminished world where the only people who cared about livestock were farmers, ranchers, and Upton Sinclair.  Many of us lived for decades without experiencing the joy and satisfaction of raising pigs, trading pigs, worrying about pigs, begging for pigs, or ignoring people who were begging for pigs. We mostly concerned ourselves with eating pigs, or, in the case of having two parents who maintained a kosher home, not eating pigs and wanting to. Now, through the miracle of Facebook’s Farmville, we can live in urban high rises, carefully manicured and maintained 55 and over communities, and adorable little cottages at the beach, and still spend all of our time building and running our farms and trading pigs.  And cows.  And chickens.

Facebook gives us the ability to have many more friends than we ever had in real life.  It doesn’t matter that we have no idea who most of these people are, since we are starting to have no idea who the real people in our lives are.  And, unlike the real people in our lives, our Facebook friends are always giving us things: bouquets of flowers, fortune cookies, horoscopes, hugs, hearts, angels, cakes, jewels, elves, beams of sunshine, disposable trashcan liners, and the ever-present livestock.

Another change is that, mostly, like dinosaurs in the days before Jurassic Park, the people from our distant pasts used to stay in the distant past.  Unless we married them or attended a class reunion with them or ran into them on a bad hair day when we were wearing sweat pants and sneakers and had just come from having dental surgery, we probably didn’t have any contact with them decades later.  Now, people from kindergarten class through high school can find us and worse, post photos of us online at a time in our lives when our teeth all assumed different sizes and shapes and when we had not yet grown into our noses.

Old boyfriends are an especially fertile territory on Facebook.  I haven’t been contacted by any old boyfriends, mostly because I married my one-and-only boyfriend who gradually, through the miracle of modern science, morphed into my ex-husband. But many of my friends have contacted or have been contacted by ex-boyfriends.   I realize that younger people can track down old loves or be tracked down by them also, but it’s so much more exciting when this happens after several decades and various body part replacements.

When I first joined, London Daughter told me that if a lot of people my age joined, people her age would drop out.  I haven’t seen any evidence of that.  And it’s gratifying to know that women my age are the fastest growing population on Facebook.  It’s either that our generation still wields enormous power and influence.  Or maybe it’s all that farm animal activity.

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