Facebook and Friendship

As time passes, I become happier with my decision to forsake Facebook.  Today’s news involves deep privacy breaches, about which Zuckerberg apparently lied to Congress.

Zuckerberg’s agenda was never to “bring people together.” In any case, experience teaches that a sheer volume of conversations serves no useful purpose.  His agenda is to harvest and sell personal data to advertisers.  One person, two persons…one dollar, two dollars.

That’s not my main point, however.

My point is how Facebook damages the normal flow of human relationships.

We have, or should have, friends at every point in our life.  It is natural and normal for these friendships to have a lifespan.  We meet, we get acquainted, we become good friends, and then, perhaps, life takes us in different directions and we let go.

There’s a picture of me on the day of my “graduation” from kindergarten.  I still remember that I was very emotional that day.  In the picture I am sitting beside another boy in the class.  Apparently we were the best of pals.  I cannot remember him, or his name, or anything about him.  Life took us in different directions and although the good will presumably did not die, the practical relationship did.

In grammar school in New York City, I had a best friend.  He is now in the public eye.  After that dreadful move to the dismal Long Island suburbs, he and I lost touch.  To this day I think of him kindly, though a reunion is impractical.  In any case my motives would be suspect (though they shouldn’t be).

On Long Island I managed to fall in with some other boys, all typically cocky and ambivalent in the Long Island style.  I lost touch with them, painlessly and permanently, after eighth grade.

Fast forward to the University of Chicago, where some of my circle of friends have gone on to impressive things, though the one I considered the smartest has essentially failed to launch.  They were good for coffee and though they held me in amused contempt for my religious faith, it was fun to spar with them.

The friendships ran a bit deeper than that:  there were times when we helped each other out.  I won’t dismiss them entirely as “feigning,” in Shakespeare’s word.

But when I came to Facebook, of course I had to “friend” all of them, in the typical Facebook psychological trap.  (Hey, they’re your friends!)  We hadn’t been in touch in well over a decade. I felt had fallen into a time warp.

I had no further desire for hostility veiled as banter.  Nobody was going to help anybody move.  Perhaps I was just older and less interested in putting up with BS.  This aspect got in the way of the memories of good times at Tipsuda in Hyde Park–our Thai place.

You can’t share chicken green curry on the internet.

Those friendships, whatever value they may have had, were now over.  Not hatefully, not despitefully, not in a quarrel, not in a conflagration of burned bridges:  but still over.  My lingering glow of good will was gradually extinguished by the forced continuance of digital intimacy.

I think of The Hunger.

Meanwhile, somewhere in a secluded compound in America, Zuckerberg’s mind keeps turning in its montonous groove:  one dollar, two dollars…

I have to add this before I close.  There are some friends you keep for life.  If you’re lucky, you marry one of them and stick close to the rest.

About Jonathan B. Hall

Keyboard artist, sacred musician, teacher, writer, working in New York City and State. Many interests include music theory and history, literature, astronomy, genealogy, philosophy and theology, gardening, and good food. Cat lover, too.
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