Friday, April 17, 2009

Fear of Facebook

It all started, interestingly enough, with Morry Roach. Morry Roach was a kid from Pleasant Hill Junior High in California. We were both in seventh and eighth grade together and if memory serves we both took the same Spanish class with a teacher who looked something like a combination of Pee Wee Herman and Tiny Tim. I don’t know if we were friends, and I don’t even remember what he looked like so I dusted off my Jr. High yearbook. According to his picture Morry was an average size kid with that long shaggy hair style so popular with teenage boys in the seventies. I can’t explain why his name has stuck with me all these years, but it has.

So, anyway I was playing around on the internet a few weeks ago, doing random google searches on people’s names. I searched myself, my kids, a few people I remember from high school, and I noticed that the chances of pulling up information on the right person increased dramatically if the name was a bit more unusual. There are hundreds of John Smith’s and Bill Browns, so locating my high school buddy and first kiss Mike McMahon in this manner is next to impossible.

After running through all my families’ names, I searched through my memory for a name that was more unique and low and behold, Morry Roach came to mind. Sure enough, Morry showed up in google as a member of the online community, Facebook. Clicking on the link I was shown a microscopic photo of a man in his mid forties who may or may not have been my long haired classmate of yesteryear. However when I tried to gather more info, I was informed in no uncertain terms that Mr. Roach and his information were part of an elitest community that could only be approached by signing up with Facebook and then requesting the honor of being on his list of legitimate friends.

Yeah, like I was going to do that. I’m sure Morry not only doesn’t remember me but would find it strange if not a little stalker-ish to know that some kid from his awkward adolescent years was trying to look him up. In fact, the whole point of the internet is to gather information from the safe position of an anonymous outsider not actually make contact. So I left the computer for a more wise use of my time, and turned on the TV.

Then, yesterday a really amazing thing happened. Out of the blue, I got an email from a good friend I’d known in college. She said that her son was recently married and that there were pictures of the event on Facebook.


But what choice did I have. I was willing to live my life without knowing for sure if the Facebook Morry was my Morry, but I really really wanted to see those pictures. I would have to bite the bullet and get on Facebook.

It was strange and surreal experience. I entered my personal information and then suddenly I was bombarded with toenail sized pictures of people I knew and people I didn’t. Relatives and neighbors popped onto the screen as if somehow the program had crept into my brain and accessed all my memories. The boy who takes care of our dog when we go out of town, was right there next to my sister-in-law in California and my daughter who lives upstate. And intermixed were people I never even heard of from places I’ve never been.

Then Facebook asked me if I wanted to look up any people from my past. I thought again of Morry Roach. Sure I was curious as to where life had taken him in the thirty plus years since Jr. High but I didn’t want to actually make contact. No, all I really wanted to do was see my friend’s son’s wedding pictures.

At last I was an official Facebook member, and happily, I entered my friends email and waited with anticipation. Sure enough, up popped a tinsy tiny photo of four itty bitty people, and a note that if I wanted a better look, I’d have to apply to be my friend’s friend. Ahhhhh

As of this writing, I still haven’t seen the pictures, but the kid down the street just asked me to be on his friend list. So I guess that’s something.

PS I've decided I'm just not a facebook kinda girl and have taken myself off. Oh well

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tebo my Life – Please

We live in a day and age where technological advances verge on the magical. I can flip open my cell phone and talk to anyone anywhere on the earth at the push of a button, (that is of course if they are awake, choose to answer and I am within my calling area). I can send and receive emails at the speed of light to anyone I choose. That means my daughter can tattle on her husband to millions of people all at the same time, and those poor Nigerian Bankers can solicit help from every shmuk who owns a PC. (See blog from last week). And last but not least, I can core and slice an apple into eight perfectly shaped wedges all in one firm push. (That may not be a technological devise, but I think it’s pretty cool).

Other amazing advances make our lives longer and healthier. Tiny cameras assist with heart operations, medicines cure diseases we thought we’d never cure, and of course laser hair removal which is a marvel in and of itself. But perhaps the biggest boon to the average American was the invention of Tebo.

Can you imagine going back in time and running into Benjamin Franklin, the great statesman and inventor? Imagine his shock as you explained things like microwave ovens that allow people to create nacho’s in almost no time. Mp3 players that allow people to record more songs than they even know and watch full length movies on tiny little thumb nail sized screens. And then you could tell him about Tebo.

Granted, Tebo wouldn’t make a lot of sense to him at first, being that the founding fathers hadn’t invented TV yet, not to mention the TV station. And the idea of having the leisure time to sit in front of a screen for hours at a time might also seem strange to people who had to cut their own fire wood for warmth, carry water from a well to drink and if they over did it on the beans and bacon, they’d be trotting back and forth from the outhouse all night. But Franklin was a smart guy and eventually he would get the idea.

Then you’d spring it on him. In the twenty-first century we don’t miss a TV show, not even when we aren’t home. Our TVs can watch multiple shows all at the same time. We can be asleep but old Tebo never rests recording hours and hours of The Simpsons, Law and Order and Cooking with Emile. In one day, Tebo can record more television than we could watch in a month.

Of course technology doesn’t come without a price. We are much wider and lumpier than our counterparts in the seventeen hundreds (thanks in part to the microwave nachos). And TV does become so addictive that people put them in every room in their house, including the bathroom. But those are relatively minor compared to what I like to refer to as the Tebo snapback syndrome.

You’ve all experienced curling up in front of the tube, and scanning through the channels till you find something really good to watch. (like an old movie starring a very young Pierce Brosnan and Twiggy). Then about forty-five minutes into the program a notice comes on the TV telling you that American Idol and Sponge Bob Square-pants are scheduled to record in five minutes and you either need to cancel a recording or turn off the TV. What a moral dilemma that puts one in. Which family members TV viewing tastes are more important, and what are the repercussions of choosing one family member over another. It’s mind boggling, and I suspect that even old Benjamin would be stumped.

I've given this issue a great deal of thought I think I've come up with an answer. It is that...

Whoops. I just looked at the clock and I only have a forty minute window in between I Love Lucy recordings to catch last week’s Wheel of Fortune, so I’d better run. Bye!

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