April 2012

Facing Facebook

By Suzanne Strazza

Let’s really talk about Social Networking.

This is not about how Facebook has changed the world, or how, when I was growing up, we had to actually dial telephones and then stand there next to the wall mount because there was actually a phone cord. This is not about how many people from my past I have connected with or how I am so much more globally aware since I can connect with people I don’t even know in places like Tanzania or Islamabad.

Okay, Islamabad might be stretching it, for obvious reasons.

No, this is all about me (of course) and my personal experience in the world of social networking.

I’m not even sure when Facebook began. I know that I was against it, just as I was against sport climbing, plastic ski boots, cell phones and automatic transmissions.

Eventually, someone set up a page for me that I ignored for a very long time until enough people were talking about it that I decided to check it out.

I dabbled; nothing serious, posted a really bad picture of myself, moved on to posting a picture of my feet, which apparently isn’t nearly as clever and unique as I thought, then I tried putting up some information about myself and that’s where the trouble began.

Not too long after I dabbled, I received thousands of birthday well wishes. I don’t tell anyone about my birthday, so this was utterly horrifying and I couldn’t figure out how everyone knew. It took another year for me to catch the little thing on the right side that tells you whose birthday it is on any given day.

Then, I tried to respond to something someone said and my words were, “I think you are totally hot!” And this, my dear friends, I posted on my “wall,” which, I have since found out, is different than sending a message to an individual. I guess wall postings go to everyone on your list. At least I made some old friends’ days.

But the real test of my naiveté regarding the reach of Facebook was the day, shortly after my husband bailed that, while killing time, I changed my status from “married” to “single.”

The shock waves were felt around the world; I was bombarded with queries, disbelief and speculation. It was a learning experience, almost greater than the divorce was.

So I decided that the whole Facebook, communicating with the world at large via computer, was not my cup of tea and I thankfully closed the door on that chapter of my life.

Until the day when a published author friend said to me, “If you want to be taken seriously as a writer these days, you have to have a blog. Then she listed the various reasons why and they all sounded pretty convincing, so off to WordPress I trotted.

When I first set up my blog page, I used one of the existing templates – I figured I’d let “them” design my page. I put in my name, a little bit of information about me and cut and pasted one of my columns into the text box and hit, “publish.”

And there it was. Right there, on the WordPress page, with my name spelled incorrectly and several of the sample template photos which were really quite lovely although it was a bit like buying a picture frame and hanging it on the wall with the photo that came in the frame of lovely, happy people whom you’ve never laid eyes on in your life.

I have since fixed it up a bit, my own photo is on the page and I managed to change the spelling of my name – now it’s just one long word: suzannestrazza.

And I write quite frequently. I have found that sometimes people complain when I don’t.

I have also found that sometimes people complain when I do. Particularly, my exhusband.

Sometimes I write about him. Sometimes I write about my day at work (but usually nothing so mundane as a day at the office), I often write about my sex life or lack thereof, or other people’s sex lives, or my friends’ personal lives, or my children.

But I do keep getting into trouble. Like the time that I wrote about my son’s first real breakup and I used words like “sniveling” and “fetal position.” Who’d have guessed that one of his friends actually read all of that?

Then there was the time I mentioned some trouble they got into and their auntie on the East Coast read it and called their father, who then called me and you can only imagine where it went from there.

So I promised to stop including them in my literary pursuits. I try hard to keep my friends’ identities a secret, but when you live in a town as small as this one, that’s not so easy. For instance, there was the time that my friend and I killed the badger – I didn’t have to name names or anything. Folks thought about me and who my friends are and it took all of 30 seconds for that mystery to be solved. So absolutely no anonymity there.

My writing has raised some eyebrows, so I try hard to be really careful and thoughtful around my friends’ lives. Like I wasn’t when I wrote about my friend (who worked with teens and alcohol prevention) and the days when we were sneaking into bars when we were barely 14. That was almost a friendship- ender.

I do so love to blather on about my ex – but only when he has done something so outrageous that it can’t be kept quiet. Alas, he would prefer if I didn’t do that.

I love to pontificate about my view of the world, because obviously, not only is it a great view, but everyone should hear it.

And I am obsessed with myself. I check my blog “stats” every day, sometimes more than once a day, to see how many people have read my wisdom and if they left any comments. I often re-read what I wrote, also, just to gauge if the number of readers for the day coincides with the quality of the post.

In a desperate attempt to reach out to more people I finally combined the two forms of social networking that I have not mastered. I figured out a way to get my blog posts to show up on Facebook!

Talk about advanced techno geeking.

But that too brought a whole new round of issues. I’ve had to figure out how to limit who receives some of my posts. For example, my children do not need to get the message that their mother, once again, wrote about The Fallen Angel or about their father.

I was friends with all of their friends – it was a great way to keep tabs on what everyone was doing, but then I realized that that worked both ways and that their friends (and therefore, my children) could keep tabs on what I was doing. So the “unfriend” button became my good friend.

I also do not connect with certain people (my boss for example) for obvious reasons.

But some of my childhood friends are finding out that they never really knew me like they thought they did. I’ve even had one (married of course) actively pursue a weekend away. Perfect strangers call me up and ask me out and I have a fan club of one, whom I adore without having ever met the person.

I am sure I’ll f--k this one up too – post something accidentally that will cause me to lose my job, my best friend and the trust of my children all at once. I am that technologically hampered.

But until then, I will continue to share my views, my opinions and the details of my fairly dull life with anyone who will listen.

Suzanne Strazza writes from Mancos, Colo. Her blog is at http://suzannestrazza.wordpress. com/