Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stalking Old Friends: Facebook, Google, and Daylight Savings Time

I have 8:00 a.m. church this year, which means that I had to wake up at what felt like 6:00 a.m. last Sunday on the first day of Daylight Savings Time.  It is lovely to get out of church so early and have the whole day ahead, but I couldn't allow myself to nap since I already needed to try to go to bed at what felt like an early hour in order to wake up the next day.

Anyway, the point is that I was sleepy, but unable to sleep, with lots of unscheduled time in front of me.  I was reading, but then I needed to look something up as a reference, and then I got distracted, etc., etc., so I went on Facebook, that vast portal of time wastage.  A friend popped up who made me think of some people I worked with about 10 years ago, pre-Facebook.  I searched for some of my former co-workers, but only was able to find one.  I find it so ridiculously frustrating when former acquaintances are not on Facebook, as if their refusal to have the intimate details of their lives published on the internet makes them somehow evasive and antisocial.  I know, it's ridiculous--but it does make that strange Facebook-stalking thing I do, where I make inferences about someone's life choices (okay, okay, I JUDGE) based on photos and quick "About Me" facts, considerably more difficult.

Anyway, while thinking about past friendships, I remembered a good friend from childhood.  I moved to a town several hours a way when we were seven.  He is, much to the detriment of my curiosity, not on Facebook.  Google wasn't much more helpful, but I did discover that he is now math department chair at a high school not far from where he grew up.  I feel so frustrated that I cannot find out more--this instant-gratification world has led me to expect to find the answer, the details, the dirt, with a few clicks and maybe just a lucky search term.   How did the ability to find any old video from the past on youtube translate into a sense of entitlement as to knowing the intimate details of everyone's lives?  It feels frustrating and strangely surprising to be reminded that all the social networks in the world can't change how people are ultimately not completely knowable.  The invasiveness of the internet-age--and stalkers like me--cannot get us any closer to the essential mystery that is another person.  Unfortunate for my curiosity, but in a sense, reassuring that some things will always be beyond technology's all-seeing eye.

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