Joining and getting involved in community-building with Facebook has been both cathartic and unsettling, and it has taken some time to get my finger on what about Facebook is both wonderful and horrifying.
Recently I was reconnected with a cadre of terrific people that went through elementary school with me back in Encino, California – at the time (through 6th grade) we had spent half of our lives together, and dispersed – never to be in contact again until we were brought back together with Facebook. It has been a delight and still puzzling, or as my friend Lynne Annis put it in one of those long Facebook message chains (commenting on one of our class photos), “I feel like I know all of these people, yet really know nothing about them.”
A number of years ago, I had the honor of delivering the Best Man speech to my best friend John Yeh at the occasion of his marriage to Theresa Reilly, and in it, I describe a dream where everyone is happy and we are all together and I name them and of course they are all of our dear friends at the reception, and I end with a metaphorical Shehecheyanu – the traditional Jewish prayer thanking the Almighty for life, sustenance and being brought to this occasion.
Similarly, I have always had this fantasy about the end of my life, where everyone significant in my life are brought together as adults, which is not that dissimilar from Philip Jose Farmer’s brilliant series about Riverworld, where everyone in human history is resurrected on an artificially constructed planet, and he tells stories about their interaction. I’ve linked to a Wiki about that world:
I guess it was being contacted from Laura and Lynne from my elementary school that made the circle of my Facebook complete – a complete compendium of my life – being surrounded by folks from the elementary school world I was immersed in, then we moved and the middle school/high school, college, New York City, classical music world, Austin community, technology world, ex-girlfriends, family/relatives, etc. A thrilling yet bizarre cross-section, as though I have been resurrected on the Drapkin Riverworld.
Even stranger is that this world has been constructed solely though technology, and in a way that none of us could have imagined when I was growing up through high school age – an age before the ubiquity of computers and the internetwork that ties us all together now.
Yet here it is, and Laura and Lynne from Encino Elementary have made it complete. Several times when I have gone back to Los Angeles to visit, Suzy and I have driven by our old home on Weddington Street and Encino Elementary – relatively meaningless to her, but a flood of memories to me.
So, is Facebook the Apocalypse? Has the Messiah returned, not as an air-breathing man, but as an interconnected internetwork of souls from our lives that get brought back together and force us to face ourselves as the sum of all of the relationships we have made across the vastness of our being?
It certainly bears pondering, doesn’t it? Stay tuned.