But there I was. Still checking my phone. Still popping on Facebook at work to see what “so and so said” or to go through reams of invites for various parties and events (some invites from people I barely know). I’d like to say that this endless scrolling through Facebook was like watching reruns of Disney Pixar cakes on the Food Network: fun, mindless, something to wile away a few spare minutes.
Except it wasn’t like that at all.
I’m going to try very hard to not sound super creepy, but I find myself becoming embroiled in the lives of my Facebook friends. Not in a sinister Tom Ripley or Edward Cullen sort of way. My problem is that I really and truly care. I will go back and see if your truck was repaired for a reasonable price, I will check to see if that grandchild was born safely, I will worry about a vague-book status that seems depressed, I want to know if your kid quit puking and you got some rest, I want to see how that quilt turned out after you stayed up all night ripping out seams and redoing the stitches. I care. That sounds silly, but I do care.
This doesn’t apply only to my close family and friends. That mom at daycare, the teachers who teach my kids, people at church, neighbors, childhood friends I haven’t spoken to in decades, blog friends, pretty much everyone. I want to check up on all of you. Why? Why do I care so much? I think there are several reasons:
1. Introvert to a fault. I don’t talk on the phone. AT ALL. Okay, I talk on the phone to my mom about once every other week. I write letters and postcards, I blog, I do social media. God help me if I have to talk on the phone. I may just die. I could list all kinds of excuses, but I don’t really get out much. I go to church events, I knit with two friends once a week, occasionally I go see my friend Catherine. I set up all these meetings using Facebook and texting.
2. I’m a reader. I read novels. I like novels by Barbara Pym and Iris Murdoch where you learn what each character had for lunch or their views on the proper way to fold table linens and all of this details is tied up in some sort of drama that plays out in the daily and the mundane. Facebook is real time, real life details that could make up an amazing novel. At least a novel I would read.
3. I’m tired. I’m up with Persy Jane some nights. My eyes won’t focus to read Trollope. The meeting is boring. My knitting is allllll the way over there and I don’t want to leave my chair. So I scroll, like, quiz, comment. Over and over again.
4. I care. I’m tenderhearted and I worry about people. Seriously. I get stressed by your stresses and then I feel helpless and I want to fix everything. I hardly know most of the folks on my Facebook so it would be weird for me to call you. “Hey, I know we only talk in the school pick up line, but did that argument with your husband work out?”
5. I’m nosy as fuck. I don’t want to seem saintly, so I’ll fess up. I like to know everyone’s business. I just do. Because maybe I want to be the elderly, eccentric cat lady in the “between the wars” British novel (yes, yes I do).
Always the over-achiever, I’m going to kick it up a notch and once a week I’m going to do something in real life that I would normally do on Facebook. Here are some ideas:
1. Invite people to my home by calling on the phone or sending paper invitations.
2. Sending cards for new babies, deaths, illness, and birthdays.
If you’re interested in joining #99DaysOfFreedom let me know. I will totally like that status.