Goodbye, Facebook

I first signed up for Facebook in 2008 shortly after returning home from my 20-year high school reunion. At the time, I was emotionally transitioning out of my job in the U.S. Senate. Facebook represented a fun and easy way to remain in touch both with old friends from high school I didn’t call or email regularly and colleagues whose daily presence I wanted to keep in my life.

Then my family got on Facebook. After a brief period of not putting my kids’ cute faces on the internet, I embraced the convenience of posting their photos and the funny things they say so my siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins can keep up with their lives. All without my having to write a single letter or schedule a time to talk on the phone.

Like most users, my roster of “friends” ebbs and flows. Occasionally, I unfriend (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg, for adding this vocabulary word to the English lexicon) people who I don’t think would recognize me if we collided with hot coffee. But then I meet a new person, enjoy our brief conversation and five hours later, Facebook deems us official friends. The world feels brighter. Smaller. More accessible.

Facebook has been great for distributing my writing. (Shameless plug: you can sign up to get blog posts delivered to your inbox.) Facebook connected me to Latvian cousins living in Canada. Facebook makes it possible to ‘chat’ with friends abroad. But Facebook is no longer just a quick sharing of our current condition. I miss the days of status updates in the third person. Remember? Chelsea Henderson is listening to Hamilton. The Facebook of today is perfectly filtered and cropped photos of kids, meals, pets, projects, outfits, and sunsets. Facebook knows when we’re celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, changing jobs, drinking wine, entering or leaving relationships, having babies. Facebook is who we tell when we’re on vacation. With our humble brags, we invite a constant invasion of our privacy.

Facebook gave me a false sense of closeness while enabling me to drift farther apart from my core.

And over the last month, we’ve used the site to engage in new level of political debate, which is healthy. I don’t think it’s good to shroud yourself around only those who think exactly like you. So I sucked it up when people I don’t know wrote hate-filled comments on my public posts. (By the way, I’m what’s wrong with America.) I resisted the urge to write my own frothy responses because hate begets hate. But then news of the pervasiveness of fake news shared and re-shared on the site sent me over the edge.

I need a break.

Goodbye, Facebook. I’m taking a hiatus from now until the end of the year, at which time I will reassess. In the meantime, I vow to call friends and family more. I might write a letter. I look forward to filling up time usually sucked away by Facebook with reading, sleeping, writing, and preparing wonderful foods that I’m sorry you won’t see pictures of unless you come over to share a bite.

I look forward to this journey and encourage you: post less, connect more.

 

 

try a little tinderness

A man, his pool and his pug
A man, his pool and his pug
Broad shoulders. Itty bitty man shorts.

I tend to come to Internet trends late. I initially rejected Facebook and more recently, divorced the site. I never followed a blog until I after I started my own. I avoided Twitter as long as I could, and I’m a self-diagnosed Instagram stalker, just posting enough photos to be legit but preferring to ogle at other people’s meals, outfits and sunsets.

“Try online dating,” my friends pushed. Love? Like I’m going to find that on the World Wide Web. But they coaxed, and I tested the waters.

Match.com was a disaster. Not only did I go on zero dates, but their algorithm is broken because I kept getting paired with men whose profiles declared my single biggest deal breaker: wants kids, definitely. But the final subscription-canceling straw came when one of my daily matches, the 10-12 carefully selected true love potentials I was thoughtfully sent everyday, was a 62-year old school bus driver.

“Hinge is the way to go,” a twentysomething told me. It sounded kind of dirty, but I gave it a go. I met a guy, respectable enough. Hinging on the boring side. We dabbled in dating before I admitted to myself we had no spark.

Of course, everyone brings up Tinder. But why would I sign up for the hook up site? That’s certainly not what I want, and if it were, I’d find other ways to meet eligible men.

“Tinder is different for people in their 40s,” I was assured. “I know a woman who met her boyfriend on Tinder,” one guy friend told me.

Fueled by wine and boredom, the other day, I joined. It literally took me all of 30 seconds to set up my account. Unlike Match and other dating sites, there is no long profile page to fill out. Just add some pictures and a 400-character description and voila. Immediately, I had hundreds of “matches” to swipe right or left. It took time to get the hang of it. I sadly left swiped the man pictured in front of his extensive wine cellar and my friend accidentally right swiped someone unacceptable who instantly became a match, leading to scrambling and un-matching.

I don’t think it’s 100 percent true that 40-somethings use Tinder for “real” dating, as evidenced by some of the profile photos I’ve seen. Readers, Nude Photo Exhibit A:

Lower half of photo cropped to protect the innocent.

The lack of a character description is telling. I’ve left swiped some handsome guys because they wrote nothing about themselves and I just don’t go for illiterate men. Nor am I interested in a “poly” relationship or to be an out-of-towner’s fling. I mean, it’s one thing if we meet at happy hour at Proof, but quite another if I have to prearrange sex on my iPhone.

I get it… you have to kiss a lot of frogs. And then maybe you find a prince. And he owns a hot tub.

Hot tub time machine
Hot tub time machine

blowing in the wind

A few of you have asked for the story behind my Dr. Zhivago inspired profile photos.

Well, it was a cold and blustery day on the Jersey Shore. I had arrived the afternoon before, hair looking good and perfect outfit packed. But torrential rains delayed the photo shoot, so Chris Meck and I opted instead to eat, drink and be merry, as two almost life long friends spending a night away from their kids are apt to do.

“Tomorrow will be clear,” she promised me, refilling my glass.

As you can see, it was indeed clear outside, but the part of the forecast lost on me in our planning was the wind chill of twenty degrees. So much for my new sweater and perfectly flat ironed hair.

Featured image
Photo by Chris Meck

With both form and function in mind, we added the fur headband to both keep my temples warm and hold my hair in place.

Featured image
Photo by Chris Meck

Part of my drive was to walk away with a book jacket author blurb photo, but Chris says we can try again later. In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the sandy tundra. You’re going to be seeing them until spring.

Featured image
Photo by Chris Meck

why I quit foursquare

I joined Foursquare a year ago when I got curious about all the “4sq” tweets I was seeing in my Twitter feed. What was this social media function? And oh, there are points so it’s like a contest? Sign me up.

I quickly became “mayor” (automatic +3 points) of places no one else checks into like my house and the kids’ bus stop. Then Nancy’s house and the gas station and our local farmer’s market. When I finally became mayor of Biker Barre, I felt a sense of glee.

I never had more than about 35 “friends” (followers?) many of whom I’d never met but was connected to on Twitter. I didn’t consider myself to be competing with them for the top spot on the leadership board but I was definitely competing with myself. One new coffee shop away from a new level of the fresh brew badge? Let’s go here. I loved being awarded +7 points or even +9 points sometimes for a new place I was checking into. My highest single check in (+12) occurred in Hawaii where I was first of my friends to check in said spot, it was the first of its category I’d frequented, the mayor was in the house and I’d already hit x number of spots that day.

Last week when I was home concussed, I didn’t go anywhere after checking in at Sibley Hospital that Saturday (only +1 because I’d been there before) until Thursday when I made the poor decision to try to return to work (+3) before my body was ready. My point totals for the week were near their lowest ever, my head was throbbing, and I thought: why do I care? And furthermore, why do I feel like I need to tell the world where I am at every single moment?

(In my previous bouts of asking myself these questions, I’d justify my addiction with the thought that if something happened to me and the DC CSI team needed clues as to my whereabouts, they could follow my moves on Foursquare.)

We live such public lives even when we aren’t public figures. With all the focus on privacy the last few weeks, I’ve been less astonished on how it might have been violated and more struck by how much we reveal of ourselves.

So this morning, I checked in at Washington Radiology (+1) where I waited two hours to get my mammogram. But I purposely did not check in for coffee afterwards. I checked in at work (+3) out of force of habit but that was my last official check in. As I sat outside Biker Barre tonight, waiting for the rain to subside before going in, I deleted my Foursquare account.

But not before I received an email telling me I’d just been ousted as mayor of Biker Barre.