Friday, January 6, 2012

My introduction to Facebook: Feb. 8, 2009

I liked Facebook for a while. I thought it was fun. This is the column I wrote when I liked it. I don't really like it anymore. At least, I don't like it as much as other people seem to.

There will be a column about that later.

Ready or not, here comes the past to get in your Face(book)

My brother, who joined Facebook after I convinced him to do it after my friends convinced me to do it, sent me a message recently to let me know that some guy named Steven Kister was looking for me on Facebook.

"STEVEN KISTER?" I wrote back. "I haven't seen that guy since fifth grade."

Steven Kister found my brother because my brother is saddled forever with my maiden name while I altogether dropped my maiden name 10 years ago. So Steven found my brother, asked my brother if he knew me, my brother shot me the note and I went out on Facebook and found Steven Kister. Steven apparently wasn't nice to me in grade school and still feels bad about it.

"I'm sorry that I was a jerk," he wrote. "I remember getting ketchup on your dress one day when we were all outside. OH, and I also dropped books on you when you were lying under a desk. See? I have held on to that guilt for YEARS."

I told Steven that I don't remember any of that (and I wonder why I was lying under a desk) but that I DO remember making fun of a girl's Dorothy Hamill haircut because I was jealous of it, and the girl cried. I still feel bad about that.

"I'm having a nostalgia heart attack," I told a friend at work the next day. "I haven't thought about these people since we left Charlottesville when I was 10. I am having a little bit of a freak-out."

I'm pretty sure this whole Facebook thing is the end of the world in terms of being able to move beyond your past, leave a place forever, never look back. As an Army brat, I specialized all my life in closing doors and moving on. It's still part of my DNA, an almost pathological forward-looking. I don't really do nostalgia.

Didn't. I didn't do nostalgia. But Steven Kister (Steve now, though I cannot make that compute) directed me to a picture posted on Facebook of my kindergarten class, where I peered out from under my 5-year-old bangs and sat next to first boy I ever really 'liked' -- Travis Johnson, with whom I starred in the fifth-grade play.

I also found a whole slew of other pictures from good old Jackson-Via Elementary in Charlottesville, Va., and a facebook page established for all these people. Us people, I mean. Because, yeah, I joined it.

And I reconnected with my two best girlfriends from grade school (Laura Stott and Liz Shipe) and spent an evening perusing photos of people I haven't seen and places I haven't been in 27 years.

I found out where everyone is and what everyone is doing and then, since I was at it, I went out and found my best friend from eighth grade and dropped her a note. She was ecstatic, wrote me immediately in ALL CAPS and said she'd been looking all over Facebook for me but couldn't find any women with my maiden name.

My husband, who joined Facebook after I convinced him to do it after my friends convinced me to do it, and our 8-year-old son were over my shoulder for some of this, peeking at pictures of me from kindergarten, learning all about my best friend from eighth grade. Which was kind of a weird collision of past, present and future.

Another friend I work with told me that this sort of thing is the whole reason she's not on Facebook; She's not interested in being found. I would have said I wasn't either -- I only really joined because so many of my real-life friends were having so many conversations I didn't understand about writing on each other's walls and status updates. I wasn't looking to find anyone, or to be found. I just hated not knowing what the heck everyone was talking about.

But now that the past has appeared in my inbox, I'm kind of enjoying it. I think Steven Kister probably feels better knowing that I don't hold any grudges about the ketchup or the books. And now I wonder if I can find that girl whose haircut I ridiculed.

Because, honestly, I really am sorry about that.

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