I’ve decided to revive Coaster Punchman’s World, not that I ever took an official reprieve. But I miss writing, and CPW was a convenient outlet.
Things have gotten shaky on the family front, with my elderly parents having a variety of health and other problems. The stress I’ve felt from dealing with it is now settling into a semi-debilitating depression. Not the kind of depression (yet) that keeps me from leaving the house, but the kind that slows down, significantly, my ability to tackle anything even remotely challenging. The thing suffering the most is my work.
I am almost completely unable to concentrate, and the effort that would be required to do the things that I know would help (exercise, bathe, declutter my surroundings) feels overwhelming.
I am able to get myself out of the house for non-stressful socializing, for which I am grateful. For the moment I’ve just lost interest in almost everything else that requires any amount of planning or effort.
Enough whining about that for a few minutes. I just wanted to get that out of my system.
Next on deck: some of the quandaries of Facebook and its implications on social interactions.
I read with interest the following Miss Manners submission, and find it fascinating. People do have different takes on Facebook. With the exception of a few odd celebrities, I generally do not friend or accept friend requests from people I wouldn’t care to socialize with in person. Not everyone feels that way, though. I’ve noticed not a small number of people who merely enjoy some of the online banter, and who want to know what people are up to, but who otherwise don’t really want any kind of relationship to speak of.
I’m not sure how I feel about that – but, thankfully, decisions don’t need to be made every day on that front. I’ve made peace with the quandary by interacting with people I care to interact with, and not worrying too much about the rest.
Some people actively “unfriend” people they find annoying, but I don’t see the need to do that since it’s easy enough simply to remove someone from your newsfeed so that you are not bombarded by posts and images from a person you’d rather not see.
Still, what I find rather problematic about Facebook is having “friends” who live nearby. For a while I had a policy of not friending people in my own city, since it can make social interactions awkward. For example, not everyone in a particular circle is always invited to every dinner party or outing – which means it is not a good idea to post photos of local events for fear of insulting the people who were excluded.
Same goes for major events like big parties and weddings. When these things are made public on Facebook, it becomes obvious who is valued enough to an individual to warrant an invitation and who is not. On the one hand, it’s useful information to know where one stands with specific people, but in my opinion it’s easier and certainly more convenient to do things the old fashioned way. If Billy is having a birthday party and Bobby is not invited, the party should simply never be mentioned to Bobby. The kind of stuff we (should) learn at a young age about basic manners. Facebook complicates all of that to a maddening degree.
On to the Miss Manners letter and reply to which I referred earlier in this post:
Dear Miss Manners: I joined Facebook when I had cancer, as a way of posting my current status. I was following others’ suggestions and did not like it for this use. I do, however, like it for other reasons. I can keep an eye on my daughter, as well as my nieces and nephews.
I can also reconnect with old friends and, as a nostalgic person, I enjoy this. I also enjoy the ability to share photographs of said friends. I befriend only people I have fond memories of, or whom I just liked.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean I actually want to resume an old friendship! As a mother of young kids who works part time and volunteers, I have a hard enough time finding time for my friends and myself as it is.
Now an old friend in a nearby town has befriended me. While I enjoyed her company in my 20s, the friendship ended when I realized how badly she was an alcoholic. Still, there were things I really enjoyed about her.
Now, 15 years later, she mentioned on Facebook that she would like to get together. I don’t know if alcohol is still a problem, but I just can’t extend myself that far, both in terms of where she lives and the potential for toxicity.
Can you think of a polite way to tell her (or others in similar situations) that I really enjoyed hearing from her and seeing her occasional posts, her family, etc., but that I don’t particularly want to reconnect with her in person? Am I kidding myself about the possibility of a polite way to convey such a message?
Gentle Reader: No, there is no polite way to tell someone that you want to know their personal business but don’t actually want to talk to them. This phenomenon used to be known as gossip, and in Miss Manners’ opinion, Facebook has ruined its fun for everyone.
When you want to avoid human contact, the usual social rules apply. Tell her that this is an extremely busy time for you, but that you hope to connect in the (unspecified) future. To make it more convincing, for goodness’ sake don’t post your social life on Facebook for awhile.