Saturday, February 28, 2009

Facebook and these times we're in...

Yesterday I received a message in my Facebook inbox from a possible highschool classmate who was asking me if I was the person who had given him a few driving lessons in various parking lots when we were in school.

As I sat and reached back into my memory some 30 odd years something flashed vaguely familiar in my mind. Then there was the picture of a face, then the sound of a laugh, a collection of rooms that made up the school newspaper office and vaguely, very vaguely a recollection of some driving lessons. I was this person he was thinking of.

So I responded in a message to him that, yes, I did dimly recall giving some driving lessons, that it was good to hear from him and that I hoped he and his family were well. Later I sent him a friendship request and he accepted it. Tonite we chatted on Facebook, did some reminiscence Re: our time on the school newspaper, some catch up and some sharing of stories and I was reminded once again that I knew some really good people in highschool, Sean being one of them.

I knew some really good people in college too, especially my freshman year. In both highschool and freshman year of college I had the good fortune to be a part of communities that were basically nourishing and supportive ones. Now, some 30 years later, I'm reconnecting with many of these people on Facebook and finding that I still have significant things in common with many of them and that they are people I would want to spend time with in present time.

What great fortune to be reconnecting. When did this gathering together of people start? For me it was some time this summer when I began instant messaging back and forth with an old college roommate, then I reconnected with an old boyfriend from college through email, then a current day friend invited me to join Facebook and from there I began reconnecting with all sorts of highschool friends. Until a few months ago I thought Facebook was just for teens and young adults and now I think it's a most wonderful tool for people from all over the world to meet up. Some of my Facebook friends are family members, some are current day friends, some friends from college and highschool and, increasingly, some are ones disovered while on Facebook. These social networking sites are a way for people to keep in touch and connected with each other in a time in a world where so much is uncertain and frightening and when people are physically so spread out and disconnected.

I barely know my current day neighbors, although today I had a 15 minute conversation with a neighbor and his wife about used cars, replacement windows and job prospects. This is the same neighbor who gave me a good 15 minutes of his time helping me dig my car out of the snow back in December when we here in Western, WA were having uncharacteristically snowy, winter weather. As a child we all knew and looked out for our neighbors as a matter of course. That same attitude of a community of neighbors is much rarer today. But the need for community doesn't go away just because people's lives get too busy or self-absorbed, though it may go underground for a period of time. Maybe Facebook, other social networking sites, and the many many blogs that fill cyberspace are examples of how people are attempting to meet this need for community. And maybe tough times, like weather events, along with a community organizer President who is asking that all of us step up and take more responsibility, will end up being the fertilizer that these community seeds need to be nourished and grow.

Any one who reads this please forgive me if I sound dramatic. I think our chances for continued thrival(new word cause i love rhymes) and survival as a civilization depends on us stepping up and committing to really taking care of our sorely neglected communities.

I'm on the board of the Parent Teacher Group at my daughter's school and we are in the planning and preparation process for an auction and raffle later in March. At one point our Auction Committee chair said something about the parents of the 2008-2009 sixth grade class being willing to put a few dollars towards something for the 2009-2010 sixth grade class and the consensus was that parents of this year's sixth graders would be unwilling to "pay it forward" to next year's sixth grade class. I was struck by that notion just as I'm struck by people's unwillingness to pass a school levy as if somehow the success or failure of the future sixth grade class or that of the child next door or across the street isn't significant to the household without children or the students who are moving on to middle school and their parents.

Whether we like it or not we're all interconnected and interdependant and ultimately unless we commit to surviving and thriving together as school, neigborhood, city, state and country communities and as a world community we'll do niether. Witness the blocks with one or two houses being foreclosed on and the property values of the rest of the homes dropping down, banks, auto companies, businesses failing and that failure rippling out, down, up. Polar ice caps melting, polar bears drowning, sea levels and temperatures rising,islands going under and people being displaced from their homes and to where? Droughts in California meaning little or no produce for sale, less or no livelihood for farmers and farmworkers and less produce meaning more cost for consumers whose budgets are already pinched.

So what's my point? Mostly I think my point is that continuing to deny the truth of our interconnectedness and our need to care for that innterconnectedness by nurturing our communities has gotten us in a deep mess of trouble.

Personally I'm hopeful that we can get ourselves out of this deep mess, although it won't be without some scars and permanent loss, but the old ways of us vs. them are less and less efficacious as the days, years, centuries and ages go on and may just be a luxury we, as a people, can no longer afford.

End of muse /morphed into/ sermon.

For some encouragement regarding our potential for rising to the occasion see:



excavator said...

Great, and very hopeful post, Ailey. I've often felt that the internet is a Force for Good.

Sheri said...

Ailey, I just found your comment on my site and wanted to say hello. Very good post on our inter-connected-ness and using our modern tools to make that happen.

In a tarot reading yesterday, I had a lengthly discussion with my client on how divine energy is all connected and how important and divine we all are.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.