Archives for the month of: February, 2012

About five years ago I created a Facebook account.

In the beginning, the relationship was wonderful. We saw each other every morning and I enjoyed the pictures, posts and pokes Facebook passed back and forth to my friends and family. In those early days I was even reunited with one of my oldest friends, Phaneth. We met in second grade and developed a bond over the “ding-ding” dance at recess and then when we were older, rides along the bicycle trails of Northern Virginia. I still had the bicycle bell she gave me one year for Christmas and thought of her every time I rang it. But time and distance had severed our ties. Until Facebook, my ever-present significant other, came along.

My relationship was fulfilling but quickly grew intense. Facebook wanted me around all of the time and I was too weak, too enamored to resist. More and more people were joining daily and about a year later I realized the love had gone and was replaced with compulsion and dependence. Facebook was always changing and I felt that if I wasn’t there to see it, I wouldn’t matter anymore. I realized I was in a bad relationship, so bad in fact, that there wasn’t a break-up option back then. I scoured the internet and employed a back-door account-deleting method somebody had posted on a forum. I was free and so much happier.

Then a few months ago I gave into peer pressure and created an account again. It began the same way. Light-hearted and fun at first. I was happy to contact and say hello to old friends. It was fun to see people’s pictures and laugh at people’s posts. But my need for being connected grew daily and I found myself wasting my time and life on a superficial relationship. Facebook seems to be very one-sided and narcissistic. After the initial contact with old friends and roommates, they didn’t seem to care anymore. I was appalled because that’s not the way I do things. But, again I found myself in too deep with Facebook, I felt I couldn’t pull myself away. I happened upon a couple articles, here and here, about how studies are showing that Facebook makes people sad. I felt it, I knew it was true. But, that feeling that if I wasn’t on Facebook, I wouldn’t exist, couldn’t be shaken.

Then one night I had a revelation as I was walking around Chicago, innocently pursuing one of my favorite activities, peeking into the windows of apartment buildings and houses. (Accuse me of voyeurism all you like, if they didn’t want me to see, they would shut their shades.) Facebook is like looking into the open window of model homes peopled with mannequins dressed in the latest fashions, doing the things you wish you were doing, their eyes dead and their mouths perpetually and soundlessly laughing. It seems beautiful, better than your own life, but the longer you look the more it feels extremely creepy and somehow wrong. Facebook is not real life. It is, more often than not, what people want you to think their real life is.

I understand why other people like it, like the article says, certain people are more affected than others. I guess I am one of those people because I don’t like life filtered. It’s like living in a Lois Lowry book, the beautiful without the ugly is just as creepy and wrong as the bittersweet reality. I like my friends (and characters in books) flawed, human and relatable. But, on Facebook, everyone is superhuman. And the world suddenly becomes very big, busy and overwhelming.

Facebook it seems is for the extroverts of the world who thrive off of constant connection and don’t like to be alone. For the people who can’t get enough of other people and think other people need and want to know every mildy cute/funny/weird/scary thing their child/dog/professor/husband (you get the idea) said or did. It is for people living abroad who feel lonely, far from family and friends. It is for people who are chronically sick and can’t get out of bed. It is for revolutionaries to spread the word (good can come from it).

But, Facebook is not for me. I will stick to my limited glimpses into other people’s lives; illuminated windows with people vegetating on their second-hand couches, praying, dancing, and cooking accompanied by real laughter, shouted arguments, loud music and screaming children. And of course, the occasional naked person.

The day before I made my decision to breakup with Facebook a friend posted this picture to her wall:

The graphic is funny but . . . the truth is, we all grow up and (hopefully) leave home at some point and when we finally do . . . it’s no longer considered running away.

Dear Facebook,

I gave you a second chance but discovered you are still the same superficial black hole I met all those years ago. I’m done wasting my time with you. This is it, I’m breaking up with you tomorrow.

Tara

To my facebook friends: If you can’t contact me in a way other than through facebook, you probably don’t like me that much anyway. To the rest of you, I look forward to talking to you in my real life.

I cannot begin to tell you how much happier I am now.

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My husband is a big bicycle enthusiast. I think it’s safe to say in the 11 years I’ve known him, he’s had at least a dozen bicycles. He builds them from parts, finds them in alleys, fixes them up, barters, sells, and buys. He has three right now in addition to the three he acquired for me (they’re all second hand and two of them were free) and our sons tricycle, bicycle seat and bike trailer. We are a household who enjoys a good bicycle. At least that’s what Michael would like people to believe.

My loyalties, however, lie somewhere else entirely and he knows it.

A few years ago when gas prices got really terrible, there was a revolutionary atmosphere in our apartment. To amuse myself, I began talking and scheming against the establishment. I struck upon an idea that I became very passionate about; travel by horse was going to come back. I announced to Michael, very theatrically, that horses were the way of the future. He laughed and then began to argue that no, bicycles were the way of the future and . . . the future is now. We enjoyed arguing and pleading our side of the case, many times laughing so hard we almost cried. I insisted his opinion couldn’t be trusted on the matter because he’d had three of his very own horses – Duchess, Whiskey Jack and one, I was appalled to discover, he can’t even recall the name of – when he was a kid and he just didn’t appreciate them the way he should have. He claims they had terrible temperaments but I think they just didn’t like him because they could sense he was a secret bicycle revolutionary. We did agree on one thing, riding horses and bicycles is much more fun than riding in a car.

I have since admitted that bicycles are probably a safer bet than horses. There are a lot of logistical problems when it comes to “storing” horses, especially in a city . There’s also the matter of cleaning up after and feeding them. Most importantly, bicycles don’t tend to die on you. But, I always remind Michael, a bicycle just can’t love you back.

Horses, the way of the future. At least in my dreams.

The debate is over, but the sentiment lives on. Whenever we become impassioned about something in our household – politics, human rights violations, corruption, the economy, greed, health insurance, cronyism, or anything that just seems wrong – the revolutionaries in us come out again. We look at each other and whisper conspiratorially, “Horses, the way of the future.” And then we laugh. It makes the world seem like a less horrible place. You should try it.

Horses, the way of the future – The revolution is coming. I’m thinking about having t-shirts made.

I let my great NaNoWriMo success in November go to my head. I set a goal during December to have my second draft completed by February 1st. A month and a half seemed like sufficient time to get it done. After all, I’d written 50,000 words in 30 days, right?

February 1st has come and gone and I’m quite far from being completed with my edits. Actually, I’m still stuck in the first 10,000 words.

Much of this has to do with my husband’s hidden gift of amazing editing skills. Not only is Michael excellent at grammar, but he’s a genius when it comes to spotting logical inaccuracies. Sometimes when we sit down to edit together he points out something so minute and detailed that I cannot help but be reminded of an episode of the TV show, Monk. Mr. Monk becomes a magazine proofreader (Season 3: Mr. Monk Gets Fired) and points out that a writer used the word, decimate, when describing a building being knocked down but, Adrian Monk points out, it’s inaccurate because decimate means to reduce by a tenth not destroy entirely. Those are the kinds of logical inaccuracies Michael finds. I’m not kidding. Is it any wonder that the editing is taking so long?

At first I was frustrated, but then I realized that although the process can be slow and arduous, I shouldn’t want to rush it. This is my chance to make my manuscript great. It has potential now, but it needs work. I need to be pushed to pull something better from myself. I’ve spent years planning and working, why would I limit myself to less than two months to polish it to as near perfection as I am capable of?

My new hope, and goal, is to be completed with the second draft on April 1st because that, for me, will be enough to meet my, “I’ll give myself five years to finish this book” requirement.