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Archive for October, 2010

     There’s an old joke in the South that “We don’t hide our crazies in the attic, we bring ‘em right out in the parlor for everyone to meet!” And it’s true. Everyone has that slightly-off Aunt or that crazy cousin or that not-quite-there nephew or that sister who Tennessee Williams should have written a play about… and yet, what no one ever mentions is the unsaid ending of that joke: “Of course we ARE careful who ELSE we allow into the parlor …”

     Enter The All-Access Electronic Parlor, aka Facebook, and therein lies the problem.  Suddenly the whole world is in the parlor with all your secrets. Just as videotape exposed the Kodachrome lies of Paul Simon’s teens, Facebook is opening the door to everyone’s Fibber McGee closet, shining a light on the dark family corners we distract our friends from seeing; FB is  making sure that everyone knows everything about us whether we want them to or not. 

     It doesn’t make life easy. Like most people, I try to shine a positive light on my public life. I do my best to at least maintain a façade of what I’d LIKE my life to be, and as long as those I’m not close with don’t GET too close, this works fine. But what can you do when your guilty secrets start popping up in the middle of the virtual parlor? Well there’s a new sticky wicket for our times.

     Facebook’s “unfriending” works well enough for those people to whom you owe no allegiance or maybe don’t even know in rl (real life): if they commit some kind of embarrassing faux pas (like constantly shoving their business solicitations in front of all your “guests”),  you can unfriend those guys without a twinge. It’s your secret crazies that are the problem … they burst into the “room” without any warning and … much as an unfiltered toddler would … proceed to say, do, and show the Things That Make You Cringe to all the world.

    They just don’t seem to have a clue … or worse, they have but they don’t care.  Or maybe they even enjoy making you squirm on the virtual page in front of God, friends, dead relatives reeling in their graves, and everyone.

     Ugh.

     Do you know how vigilantly you have to monitor your Facebook page to be able to immediately HIDE or DELETE those posts before half the world sees them?  Well, believe me; no one is that fast or that consistent. I know because I’ve tried and I’m here to tell you that it can’t be done.

     For a while I tried a different approach that I actually thought was pretty imaginative:  I set up TWO Facebook pages and thought I had carefully policed who I admitted to which page.  Think of one as the family room and the other as a formal or grown-up parlor, no children allowed … and it was working pretty well until the other night…

    I was having a nice conversation with a friend when, without a word of warning, one of the crazies burst into the room, lobbed a totally O.T. conversational bombshell into the midst of everything, and had engaged my friend before I could hide or delete them.

     My worst Facebook fears realized: The unmasking. Followed by the pm’s. (No not “PMS,” but “p.m.s: ” The inevitable private messages that result, expressing the friend’s sympathy and dismay: “I didn’t realize you had a ________ who ______!”

   Well of course you didn’t you idiot;  I’ve taken EXTREME CARE to keep people FROM knowing that.  And now that YOU do, everyone else will, within minutes.

     Damn.

     Might as well just knock down the wall and make it into one big WRECK ROOM (spelling intentional). Yes, just as videotape exposed to the world that the perfectly dressed children were being horrid between still shots on photo days, crazies infiltrating Facebook let everyone know what you’ve NOT been telling while incessantly posting everything you’re proud of and WANT to share. 

     Betty White was right: Facebook IS a huge waste of time.

     And energy.

     I think from now on I’ll leave it to those too young to have any truly guilty secrets.

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