Home March 2012 Just Another Community

Just Another Community

Mom declared recently that she’s going to “quit Facebook.”  That was on a Thursday.  By Friday morning, she was commenting on Sis’s photo album and re-posting Rabbi David Wolpe’s daily drash.
Facebook is not something you quit.  It’s a privacy-blasting, mind-numbing time suck.  But it’s become – for better or worse – the modern equivalent of a shtetl.  We know who is getting married, who is getting divorced, who is having children and what ridiculous names they are giving them, because you see all the people in your Facebook world, all the people in your shtetl, on a daily basis – the way our great-grandparents probably saw the butcher, the baker and the Shabbat candlestick maker every day.
So what happens when someone lives outside the walls of town?
Steve hates Facebook.  He has long argued that Facebook creates weird, artificial connections with people you don’t really know.  And he’s right.  Between typing that last sentence and writing this one, I clicked through 20 pictures of cupcakes baked by a woman with whom I once took a 10-week improv course.  (JenRaye, that raspberry chocolate number looks amazing!)
But look at any family and tell me that it isn’t a weird, artificially connected group of people.  At Passover one year, Mom’s husband’s late wife’s good friend’s son told me, “I like you. If you weren’t family, we’d be friends.”
Being part of a community means dealing with other humans.  Some of whom you really don’t know all that well but get to learn a lot about.  Facebook is just a natural extension of that.  So when your best friend’s mother “likes” a photo of you posing with your new boyfriend, it isn’t weird.  It’s a reminder that, when the time comes, G-d willing, she’d like an invitation to the wedding.
So when Steve called me, using a telephone (a land line, even) to tell me he and Lyn were expecting their first child, I began to wonder: How much longer can the parents-to-be stay off Facebook?
I mentioned Lyn’s pregnancy to a group of our mutual friends at a recent party; not a single one of them had heard the news.  Now, I appreciate knowing something nobody else does, but these people really love Steve and Lyn and wanted to celebrate their joy.  The couple long ago moved to New York, so it’s not as though friends can just drop by with Diaper Genies.  No posts.  No tweets.  No mention on any social media site – how was anyone back in California supposed to know?
No one was outraged or hurt not to have heard the news, but there was definitely a communal brow furrowing.  Friends – real and tangential – want to see how cute Lyn looks pregnant!  We want to see what the nursery looks like!  We want you to ask the universe what kind of baby carrier to get and add our two cents to the comment thread.
In other words, we miss you, and we’d love for you to settle with your new little family into our community.
So consider this an open letter to Steve to reconsider joining us in the cyber shtetl that is Facebook.  We would welcome you with open arms.  And we would very much love to “like” your impending little status update.

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