Even though I have not joined, I do not see anything wrong with Facebook. I am even jealous of my wife's growing circle of friends and resigned to the fact that I will soon give in. It already feels the same as five years ago when I had to start giving out my cell phone number because people expected you to use it for more than just emergencies.
Facebook has not left just me in the dust. My good friend Joey is another holdout. Joey is a social worker in Minneapolis. Like me, he is not technophobic. He recently played in several rock bands that seemed to hang out together on MySpace. It looked like one big fun inside joke. Google's Street View shows me where he and his wife just bought an old bungalow. From my home in Durham, I can see the shade cast by the trees of his neighborhood. Instead of virtual voyeuring, I could be in the game, updating a Facebook profile or friending that dude from Kannapolis who offered to get me high at summer camp in 1994.
I won't speak for Joey, but if we reconnected via Facebook, I am afraid our friendship would change. There is a lot we could catch up on, which sounds like a good idea. But my problem with Facebook is that I tend to wrap up memories in gilded paper and put them in places where only I can see them. I kind of like it that way.
I am imagining myself Facebooking in the basement some Sunday afternoon and shouting up through the floor to my wife, "Joey saw Gran Torino this weekend, and he said it was awesome!"
Thanks, Facebook. Tell me something I don't know. Tell me instead that Joey was looking onto his snowy yard last Thursday, and thought about another afternoon in very different weather. He remembered March in Baton Rouge, on the heels of a Mardi Gras season and the lull that came from finishing a 40-minute run in 70-degree weather. In that short hour almost a decade ago, we would have walked around the front yard of our rental house saying nothing, drinking water, thinking to ourselves. I could see the vacant lots southeast of our house, over a chain link fence to an under-used bus stop. There, my eyes would focus on the busy road we used to jaywalk across on our way to a neighborhood bar. It was called the Old New Orleans Bar. It wasn't old, had nothing to do with New Orleans, and there was no sidewalk to get us there. It is amazing how memory's most mundane replays get the most airtime.
A pleasant barrage of status updates could never dilute the almost potent nostalgia I have for those two short years we were housemates. If Joey and I join Facebook, my brain will not wash out the random yet important clips of everyday life remembered. At least that is what I keep telling myself.