Friday, November 20, 2009

Facebook and What If….

[This would be a rambling blog, rather than a writing blog, but it may lead to thoughts on story ideas… so I will go with that.]

I’m mostly happily married, approaching my 18th anniversary with my husband. One of the things that so bound me to my husband was that he was not a jealous sort… didn’t mind that I had friends who used to be significant in one form or *cough* another, because… well I collect people. At our wedding I had three friends who were ‘former loves’ of varying significance, all clearly only friends by that point, but it still takes a rather significant level of acceptance and confidence to not have been bothered.

One of those, I’ve kept in touch with. Our lives have other overlap, so we’ve always at least exchanged a note a couple times a year (much like many of my girlfriends), but for the most part, my move across the country extinguished any residual… well… anything. I’d just lost touch… with everyone. Not so much anymore, and I’ve been pondering…

Facebook Tiers

My first Facebook friends were friends I had from other online communities… early adopters of online friendships… fellow Harry Potter geeks mostly…

Among the first of my classmates though, was a serious crush from Jr. High… It was ALWAYS only one-sided—any girl who DIDN’T have a crush on him clearly had questionable taste (he was THAT cute). We never even had a class together until senior year. We had communicated around our 20-year reunion though (I did a survey of classmates because that is the geeky thing statisticians do before class reunions), and in reality had talked more via email than we EVER had in person, so that was comfortable, old crush or not.

And then ANOTHER rather obsessive crush (high school now… emotions ramped up a little)… this one lasting longer, and actually containing a handful of dates… still more serious on my end than his… But our families are friends, so there is common ground for a plain old friendship… (he’s one of the three who was at the wedding, actually)... so all was good.

But since that time, the trickle, then onslaught… I found a few, so was prepared, but a few found me… I had completely forgotten how regularly I used to fall for people… the flirtations involved, even with 'just' friends… It is this mad rush of memories I had plum forgotten.

Friendship Faces

It is strange now to reconfigure relationships. The online friendships are more about common interests… with one it is microbeer, with another it is Harry Potter, with another it is common aged daughters or politics or fitness plans… A huge part of me thinks this is a fabulous way to get to know people… you know… were I single… were they single… but nobody is single. Yet there is this layer, this nuance, this connection…

Maybe normal people always had these pieces of friendship. I grew up the only child of a widowed woman, so was sorely lacking in the lessons about boys being people. In fact I was pretty sure they WEREN’T until college when I had my first serious, monogamous boyfriend which freed me to actually see I could be FRIENDS with other guys (they were NOT all oddball possibilities from the dating pool, but rather…people—no need any longer to flirt or impress. I could finally be me)

And now… married… I am still me and am baffled by the common ground (men really ARE people!), but also can spot how easily a person… dissatisfied… might slide into how COMFORTABLE this level of relationship is… might have the all-positive banter of the online (because people don’t tend to come chat when they are crabby—they CERTAINLY aren’t saying ‘is that where that goes?’ to me AGAIN (did you see my eyes roll?). They can’t see the extra thirty pounds or the new wrinkles (I don’t POST those pictures). And so there is this fantasy self, talking to fantasy people (or is this our honest self, once past the physical us?)—you see, there lies the conundrum… it is both a better and a worse place for honesty…

Chat box opens [note: I don’t know those people, I just googled FB chat for an image] and suddenly it is LIVE. On my writer’s profile when someone I don’t KNOW opens a chat (I always find that odd, unless there’s been an interaction first) I try to quickly mention hubby or kids in convo… that profile is about networking and anyone looking for a date is wasting both of our time. In real time though--and on MY profile, it is really fun to visit (depending on how busy I am—prefer it from home)… but another layer is laid in this strangeness of all possibilities at once… a candy box of ‘it might have beens’.

Are writers seeing the potential for stories here? Are the rest of you seeing the temptation and danger? Probably a good thing I generally avoid frunk* posting or I might do something stupid, eh? I have a friend (maybe more) who had marriage problems exacerbated by the online thing. I think the best advice I can give is that in real life you are going to have to deal with the crap. That is how relationships go. Take that online person and pull him into real life and there would be JUST AS MUCH crap you’d have to deal with. Yes, the online is all pleasant… but it isn’t real. You can’t compare and shouldn’t try, even if it is fun to try the samplers…

Back to the writing potential... So I’m envisioning devious people, coming online to seduce lonely old classmates, leading them off naked somewhere… wait… that last part is me… maybe devious is only in the eye of the beholder.

[*note: FRUNK is a word derived from coming online DRUNK and trying to share that information with the people you’re talking to… inevitably a key is hit wrong…]


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This very thing *has* occurred to me, Hart! But then, I'm always thinking about murder. :) It wouldn't fit with the kinds of books I'm writing now, but I think it could play a realistic part in many books.

We all show our best side online. If we showed our hacking, icky, early-morning selves to the world, it would be a whole different story!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Watery Tart said...

I just used it (a little, and only barely started) for my NaNo--the FB suck in of somebody one has targeted! (did you hear the spooky music?)

But yes... definitely get to pick and choose our persona!