Planned Acts of Love:
Today I will be begin sending sincere messages out over Facebook to each one of my Facebook friends.
The Process of Loving:
To be perfectly honest, I did not want to do this.
The idea originated from seeing so much commentary on the ills of technology and how it is bringing down the social structure of society. However at the same time I am personally feeling removed from good friends and family (mainly location, but time has a lot to do with it as well) and find Facebook has actually been quite nice to keep in touch with people. I also get a lot of my news from my Facebook feed. I know, before your roll your eyes, hear me out. I am connected with organizations, movements, public figures who talk about the things I specifically want to know about. I get to keep updated from DemocracyNow.Org and Amy Goodman, the Idle No More and One Billion Rising Movements, Basic Rights Oregon and one of my favorite blogs Native Appropriations. I get to keep up with the work of Brene Brown, Everyday Feminism, and the Service Women’s Action Network. It leads me to believe that it is all in how you use a technology that reveals its benefits and/or detriments.
Therefore I wanted to show my Facebook friends that I value them, in a way I might not get a chance to in person (as some people I haven’t seen in years). So, I started writing. I was out to prove that Facebook can be used for good!
First, I deleted a few people I could not find nice things to really say about them. I can give the benefit of the doubt that these people have changed since I have known them, but I realized I would rather not be superficial friends and fake something. The honest sincerity is really the crux of this project anyway. I also deleted a few people I really don’t know at all, like haven’t spoken to since middle school and never re-connected via the FB, just having clicked yes to a friend request.
As I wrote I was present with the person I was reflecting on. Some I have only gotten to know over social media, others, like I said, I haven’t seen in years and only really know them through their status updates and pictures. This started to feel very odd.
I cannot deny that it is in fact quite odd. It is new for my generation, while definitely still being negotiating by younger more accustomed ones. Social boundaries are completely obscured and shared-space is slightly ambiguous with all the settings you can have to block, semi-block, subscribe, and semi-subscribe to people. Settings help us separate work friends from high school ones; trying to negotiate what parts of your shared online life you let each one see. But some of these out of context options can be seen in “real” life; I tune out some people in person in very similar ways I don’t have their comments come up on my feed (also a side note: it is not lost on me the stigma of Facebook, about being almost 30 and discussing this media, and using phrases like “come up on my feed”; I can advocate for its advantages, but I still get a pang from how utterly silly and trivial it can all seem. A paradox I know).
So, as I sat there with about 30 sincere notes written, I got the overwhelming feeling that I was being way too vulnerable. I think vulnerability is a good thing, it is required to make connections, but then again maybe vulnerability does not fit amongst the seemingly overwhelming other type of information put up. I guess I refuse to believe this, but that brings me no comfort in sending out sincere thoughts. Given, my expectations are not too high; I am hoping everyone receives it with the kind and honest intent it was given. That is all. No responses needed or return gestures. Still, a little nerve-racking. My lovely partner says this is a good thing; maybe I am on to something. Maybe. I have to have faith that I am.
What really recommitted me was an brief article I read about restoring empathy to our communities. A large argument is that Facebook erodes that; replaces genuine connection. Even with all the above said, I still have to stand by disagreeing. Me clicking the like button for your post isn’t a sign of apathy like many argue. I mean it. Many times it is to show support of someone who I might not know well enough to call; or to let people know I am thinking about them and wishing them the best. I think it can give us another forum to celebrate together, when a phone call might disturb a newly sleeping baby. For me, at least, I think it expands my group of people that I can show a little love, kindness, and support for. Does it replace face-to-face interactions? Or erode friendships? It surely doesn’t have to.
That is why each one of my Facebook friends, I will be writing you a note. No cutting and pasting. Genuine thoughts about you, said with sincerity. I hope you receive it feeling the kindness with which it was intended.
Since I have debated with myself all day, I have yet to post any of the notes (which will be done in the private messaging feature of Facebook, as there is the whole ambiguous boundaries of the wall). Some will be done this evening. The rest I hope to complete tomorrow (Day 10: WORK DAY!).