Saturday, August 16, 2008

a rhetorical value of Facebook for Generation X

A good friend of mine and I were talking about Facebook recently, and how it's not only become a connection/networking tool for our generation (the Xers, if you will), but also as a means of re-connection. What's more, she observed with that re-connection comes reconciliation, in some cases. Now that we're all grown up, the petty things that separated us in the first place seem to disappear. In some cases, these reconciliations happen in actual writing, notes on a Wall or in a Message that say, "So what the hell was that all about twenty years ago?" or actual "I am so sorry I was so stupid back then." In others, I think the water under the bridge is just that, and it remains unspoken.

It took me years to even get a Facebook page -- as a teacher, the last thing I wanted was for current students to be Friending me, checking out my page, and god forbid I posted something that pissed someone off. My other fear was the banality of it. I didn't want to Friend anyone that I didn't already have some genuine investment in. I didn't want my relationships to be reduced to snippets of pictures and winks and nods and one hello and nothing more. But when my aforementioned friend showed me her page (and how many of our colleagues are also on it), I changed my tune, although I put every privacy setting in place that I could.

I'm glad I did, though. It's one more way to keep up w/ my Massachusetts friends (and a couple of former MA students), not to mention some of my family -- cousins, nieces, and nephews. Additionally, a half-dozen people from high school Friended me (one of whom was actually a really good friend of my twin brother's -- I actually Friended him -- and another whom I'd had a short-lived crush on back then); they all sought me out. And of them, two were girls with whom I'd been best friends and had a massive falling out before senior year. One of them I'd been best friends w/ since junior high. And when I'd lost their friendship, I was devastated, despite the fact that I'd contributed to the demise.

I have thought about writing to both of them and officially apologizing, telling them straight out: The truth is that I was so messed up back then that I couldn't have a healthy relationship w/ anyone. Forgive me. But I haven't, because I'm afraid they might think I've been dwelling on it all these years; or, even scarier, that nothing's changed. I hope that it's water under the bridge for all of us. That we just know that we've all grown up and we've all become more than who we were back then. That the forgiveness was exchanged silently, spiritually, in our sleep.

Writing in the electronic age has crossed so many rhetorical boundaries that it's hard to keep up. I heard someone on NPR remark that because of blogs, podcasting, ebooks, etc., email, Facebook, etc., more writing than ever is being exchanged, published, read, written, etc. But what is its substance? I don't have an answer for it. And when I started my other blog, my private blog, over a year ago, I constantly questioned its rhetorical value, it's audience and purpose (was it for me, an audience of one? or was it for someone else? did anyone really care about my love life?) Even now, at this moment, I question the rhetorical value of this blog. But as long as it has an audience (even an audience of one?) and a purpose, it has to count for something.

No comments: