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.


  1. Reminds me so much of your book it is u think Zuckerburg (sp) could have read it?!

  2. When I first read your question (“Which side of the door is real?” And if one side is real, does this automatically make the other side fiction?”) without too much thinking, I agreed that this certainly make the other side fiction. but than I gave it a second a thought… who said there are only two sides to a door, particularly a virtual one? Its starting to seem like the virtual world is not subject to the laws of the physical one (hence, your time sucking warp) at all. If one wishes to fictionalize one’s entire life here he could do it easily with a drop of a key.
    And now after a third thought, I think there is no door at all, or at least not a particular one, but rather a big round hall with many many doors (or maybe many many windows, since we leave our entire bodies behind but our minds) similar to the one Alice jumped into, only bigger and rounder than an igloo, with no straight line, no clear pathway outwards, it just curves around and comes back in again.

    The world will never be the same after facebook and the internet. just imagine what would it be like if it will suddenly shut down forever and ever (probably mass suicide).
    So maybe figuring out what is behind the door is not as important as figuring out where is the Exit. Or maybe it is only important now after we have figured what is really behind the door. Who cared about the exit when we first entered? Did you?

  3. Sarah, I like the idea of the round hall with many doors. A round hall which is constantly expanding and doors which continually shift their position. We go in one door and out the other, never going back or retracing our steps. There is no exit in such a world, for what appears to be an exit is simply an entry into another path unexplored.

  4. I also wonder which sideof the door is real. Actually, I wonder if either side is real. This doesn't mean that I think that any side is necessarily unreal. Perhaps reality comes into some sort of effect the further you move away from the door. But then, according to Sarah's round hall, we would be approaching another door. Perhaps, then, the only reality is right in the middle, where nobody sees us.

  5. So what we (or just the two of you David and Ronald) are basically saying that there is no absolute division between the physical and the virtual, between reality and fiction. And maybe its just me but when did “fiction” become synonymous with "virtual"? The more we explore and discover the harder it is to tell the difference between the worlds. So if there is no clear separation between the worlds then maybe they are not “worlds” at all but just parts of a whole. And if they are parts of a whole [an image of a cake cut into equal pieces comes to mind] does that mean that by exploring freely both worlds we actually eat the cake and leave it (whatever “it” means) whole? After all, isn’t that the purpose of life, eating the cake and leave it whole? (which begs the question: do we really eat the cake if we leave it whole? makes me want to study fractions again….)

  6. I have to agree - sounds a lot like your book!
    Makes me bless my decision to leave facebook years ago!

  7. I have been cutting back on facebook, just as I have been cutting back on other bad habits like coffee. But I can't see myself giving it up altogether. I admire your resolve.