Like many people, I gave up my landline a few months ago. No phones are plugged into any wall jacks in the house. However, there is a bell on the outside of the house connected to the landline that was installed by the original owner, so he could hear the phone ring in the back yard.
Last night, it rang.
I wasn’t sure I’d heard it, so I listened.
It rang again.
It rang a third time.
I opened the back door to take a look and didn’t see anyone back there. I called my old number to see if it would ring through and it wouldn’t. Creepy.
Two nights later, it did the same thing – three rings and nothing.
I have an abrasion on my scalp. Last weekend we took the kids to the Hands On Regional Museum in Johnson City. On the bottom floor, there is an exhibit which simulates a coal mine. I followed Max into the mine. Most of the tunnels weren’t tall enough for me to stand upright, so I stooped and followed. On my way out, I stood up too quickly and scraped the top of my head on the mine.
So when people ask how I hurt my head I say “coal mine accident” which sounds better than “old guy stumbling around children’s museum accident.”
I love Facebook. I didn’t think I would because of my inherent distrust of anything too popular, but I love it. One of the reasons I love it is because I now get the many of the jokes I see in pop culture that are based on that experience. References to status updates, vampire requests, Farmville . . . it makes sense to me now.
Another reason is the same as why everyone else likes it – I’m reconnecting with people I haven’t seen or heard from in years. There are people from my high school with whom I’ve had longer and more interesting conversations on Facebook than I ever had in real life.
Facebook is also, apparently, the place where bygones become bygones. People I disliked throughout my life are suddenly my best buddy. That’s cool. I’m a peaceful and forgiving man and never one to hold grudges to too long.
I also hate Facebook. There is plenty about the site to be annoyed at – the seemingly constant redesigns, the Farmville/Vampire/Mobster/Pillowfight stuff and the uncertainty about who really owns the information we post. But that’s not what really gets to me.
I’m learning too much about my friends’ and family’s politics. That may sound weird coming from someone who has been spewing his own politics all over the web for more than ten years, but there is a difference. Let me see if I can explain.
I write a lot about politics (more so in the old days than now) and I do research and I try to back up my opinions with some good information, cite my sources and do everything to maintain my credibility. That’s not something you can do easily in a Facebook status update. Instead, you get snarky comments without any sort of context. It leaves the reader thinking 1) this person is an idiot and 2) well . . . there is no No. 2.
I’ll give you an example. I have a relative who I see at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Until we became Facebook friends, I had no idea of his politics. We never discussed it (or much else). The day of the Senate special election in Massachusetts, he posted this as his Facebook status:
I would like to say thank you. Thank you to the voters of Massachusetts. Thank you for punching the democrats/liberals square in the mouth. Maybe the next punch will knock that stupid smirk right off Nancy Pelosi’s face, actually knock some common sense into that errant boy Henry Ried, and bring the dali bama off his high horse.
Leaving aside my usual snarks about the spelling/punctuation errors or the fact that I think the word he was looking for was “errand” boy or that the Senate Majority Leader is Harry Reid; there is nothing of substance in that at all. It comes from a place of hate and it’s hard to believe a guy I’ve known as long as I’ve known him, has this much bile in his heart.
My first instinct is to engage:
Hey, I hope you realize that the voters in Massachusetts elected a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, liberal Republican who supported health care reform in Massachusetts. I’ll take all of them I can get. Also, the polling shows that one major reason the Massachusetts voters were unhappy was that health care reform wasn’t going far enough to help people who need it. I’m all for giving Scott Brown his due, but he’s got 13 months to make something happen and his party doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything.
But too quickly the comments filled up with more hateful, violent rhetoric from his friends like some weird right-wing echo chamber. And while I’m not one to shy away from a political squabble in which I am outnumbered, every rebuttal triggers a notification and an email to my account and I don’t want to deal with that end of it.
Dollie just hides his updates so she doesn’t have to see them. I’m tempted, but I’d rather go into these things with my eyes open.
So I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I encourage everyone I know, both friends and clients, to get on board, but I’m not going to be all that sad to see whatever will be next to come down the pike.