Sunday, January 9, 2011
“Your husband is a Facebook Whore!”
These not so kind words were told to my wife Laura at her 30th class reunion this last summer by one of her former classmates. Not that I disagree with the general idea that one might say that, at times, I am committed to frequent communication with this very popular social media place but these words sounded harsh. Whore? That term is usually reserved for persons acting promiscuously with some sort of indiscriminate nature. That very term might lend one to think I do what I do without purpose. And when this unflattering term was used to describe me, I wasn’t even around to protect my honor.
As it happens to us often, fate had double booked this evening for Laura and me. The night of her 30th reunion was also the night of one of my oldest friend’s daughter’s wedding and to me our friendship meant that I needed to attend. Laura would head to her reunion; I would go to the wedding and then meet up with her. I graduated from the same high school just a year before Laura so I know much of her class and call some of them friends. I also figured Laura going alone for the first part of the night worked well as this would give her some quality time with her fellow alumni. Little did I know that my Facebook activities would be such a hot topic for her chatty friends. She mentioned that many of her friends commented on how often I post on FB.
Now Laura couldn’t care less about being on Facebook. She is not on and she says she has no intention of joining. She is a fairly private person so she doesn’t get why we want to share the intimate details of our lives OR read snapshots of others people’s world. She loved watching recently when the 88 ½ year old actress Betty White bashed Facebook on Saturday Night Live as “an incredible waste of time”. The feisty Ms. White had the audience roaring when she joked that in her time it was a punishment to have to view your friend’s pictures from their last family vacation. So when Laura heard from her classmates that I was “all over Facebook”, this was fuel for her eternal teasing me of what I think she views as my love of the spotlight. She loves me but she has always mocked me that I have never met a stage or microphone I didn’t love. So hearing that some of her former school chums told her that I am “always on FB” was cause for what I can only imagine as the world’s biggest eye roll.
When I heard the term whore used to describe me I was taken aback just a little. Was I over using Facebook? Could I be the butt of many jokes about those that are addicted to posting the trivial and boring sides of their lives? This last year there was a hilarious TV commercial for Verizon that depicted a family intervention. But it was two teenage kids that were confronting their parents about their insistent and relentless trivial and inappropriate Facebook and Twitter posting. Could this be me? It made me examine and at least re-evaluate to myself why I do what I do and why I am here. As I always say, one must look in the mirror first.
Those that know me know that I want to have a purpose in life…I want to make a difference. This drive can be good and it can be bad. I hope that my kids are better off because I tend to have a reason for what I do and what I teach them but the bad side, for them, is that life is sometimes “one big learning opportunity”. I tend to over explain why I had them do what they did and I tend to give “lectures”. Of course, this is how they explain it and I think what I do makes sense. To me, I want clarity and I want all to understand why what was done, was done. To ensure this I communicate and I communicate often. I have said for years that 95% of the world’s problems can be solved with better communication. So it would seem that this natural tendency to communicate makes my FB contact easy for me. But my reason is more than just big communication.
Have I mentioned I like to make a difference? I don’t know why we feel the way we do but we are all driven by something that is actually bigger than who we are at this very moment. I read a book years ago called Now, Discover Your Strengths that explains we are wired the way we are by a very young age and that for the most part we have no control over it. Environment does have something to do with who we become but our core inner drive is written into us like some sort of never changing computer program. So my deal is being influential and I think I enjoy using Facebook to do just that.
My wife says I am a bit of a control freak but I think that most people don’t realize how much they can control the world around them. I am not talking about world domination here but we all have the ability to control our world to some extent. If you don’t believe me then try this experiment. Take a week and be extremely nice to everyone around you…your work, your friends and your family. Be helpful and kind, patient and go out of your way to be a really good person. Listen closely to those in your life and really show them that you care. Now, in the second week, do just the opposite. Be short and unfair. Don’t help others and make their life difficult when they are around you. Then tell me you don’t control the world… your world both positively and negatively. How we act in life helps us, to some extent, control the world around us. We all have influence and how we use it is different for all of us. But what does this have to do with FB, you say?
I am a very social person and I love keeping in contact with my friends. I also like to entertain. And of course I like to make a difference. Bringing a smile to someone or at least giving them some sort of positive inspiration makes me feel good. FB gives me a chance to fill these needs. Sometimes I make myself the butt of my own jokes but it’s all under the banner of entertaining and hopefully brings a chuckle to someone.
I also like to brag up my kids. But I do that for me as much as I do it for them. I am proud of who they are and I want them and everyone else to know. To me, recognition is very important. If you want someone to do more of a positive thing, make a huge deal about it. But there I go again with that control freak thing.
Facebook is its own incredible reality and it is now re-defining our world, even as we speak. But really what makes it special is what we do with it. Who thought years ago we would have a way to give so many others so much information about us and we think that they want to know. I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg is a genius for inventing FB but I do think how he has capitalized on its success is brilliant. It’s not what is there but what you do with it.
So I am ok with being called this less than flattering name about my use of Facebook. And to be fair, if this application wasn’t available on my phone I wouldn’t be connected nearly as much as I am. But I love being in contact with my friends and hearing about their lives. It’s great to hear about my friend Eric’s hunting trips to Texas or stories of flight delays due to an erupting volcano for my friend Zaira on her way back home to Costa Rica. Sure, there are those occasional updates from people telling us about their intestinal problems or complaining about their husbands but for the most part it is people just sharing their world and wanting to connect.
I will continue to share things about my life, my family, my job and my friends. I am sure there will be more attempts at entertaining my FB friends and I am sure there will be more tries at being humorous. There are many people in my life that regularly remind me that I am NOT as funny as I think I am. But that’s ok. I will still try to make a difference because that is what drives me. But I admit I like my FB world and thanks friends, for letting me share.
Getting up from my seat in the audience, I walk to podium. Nervously, I begin by looking out on the crowd, forcing the words from my mouth.
“Hi, I’m Scott…and I’m a Facebook whore”.