Saturday, February 18, 2012

Time according to Facebook

Last week I discovered that I got married in 2007. Which sort of turned my world upside down. How do you suddenly explain to your kids that they were born out of wedlock? And how do I explain the discrepancy between the young man that appears in my wedding photos and the aging soul that stares out at me in the mirror each morning?

It all started when I clicked on Get Timeline on a friend’s Facebook page. “It couldn’t hurt,” I thought. “Facebook is continually reinventing itself. This is just another tidbit”. Or so I thought, just before I was sucked into a time warp.

My suspicions should have been aroused when I saw that my personal history began in the year 2007 - the same year that I joined Facebook. And especially where it claimed that I got married on the same day that I joined Facebook - August 9th, 2007. Facebook certainly takes personal status seriously.

It is as if this social experiment, called Facebook, was not quite enough for its founders and they decided to have Facebook become a scientific experiment as well. They had already redefined our place in the virtual world. Why not also redefine our place in the physical world? Will I soon discover that if I attempt to leave Facebook, my marriage will immediately dissolve, and I may find myself fading - both virtually and physically?

Sounds like a page out of my own book - As I Died Laughing. But then, that is supposed to be fiction, isn’t it?

But what harm is there in all of this? It’s not as if Facebook is seeking world domination. ”Lower your voice,” I tell myself, looking nervously back over my shoulder. When it comes down to it, Facebook is a democratic organization. Except for the fact that it keeps making changes without consulting us, and forces us to automatically accept them in the end, even if at first it tells us we have a choice. And then there is the Terms of Use agreement, which even my lawyer finds difficult to understand. But the bottom line is that Facebook would have long ceased to exist had it not constantly reinvented itself. And if we hadn’t reason to complain, we would have gone somewhere else by now. We love to complain about what we have, but are not yet ready to do without.

Which brings us back to the timeline and the year 2007. I have been filling in the cracks. Yes, although Facebook seems to have made it needlessly complicated with very little explanation on  how to add events outside of the Facebook years, I have managed. And although these events didn’t receive the Facebook stamp of approval, they are now officially within the realm of Facebook. I have found my way out and back in again. I am reminded of Truman in The Truman Show who discovered the escape door which led him outside of his alternate reality. Although I don’t know if he ever found his way back in. And which also begs the question: “Which side of the door is real?” And if one side is real, does this automatically make the other side fiction?

Personally, I enjoy these virtual worlds. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I can sit here, down in the Negev desert, the wind howling outside, the rain beating down on the roof - and speak out to the rest of the world. You may not be listening now, you may not be listening today or tomorrow.  But my words will be out there, floating around. Who knows who will read them. How does that make me feel? A rush of social adrenaline, perhaps. Or maybe I just enjoy talking to myself. Beats solitaire. Or maybe it is solitaire, of a totally different sort. Play on. Drop me a line if you think I am not alone.