All of my friends are joining Facebook. If you are under the age of 40, or if you went to college with me and we once made eye contact, then I probably already invited you to be my friend on this online networking site.
Joining Facebook means that I have gotten in touch with old acquaintances, buddies, pals, friends, people I barely knew, and the inevitable ex-boyfriends.
I resisted the whole Facebook hype at first. It seemed like one more thing to have to manage in my long list of already incredibly neglected endeavors. Then my best girlfriend from college convinced me that Facebook would be good publicity for my writing career. With that excuse at the ready I signed up for Facebook and quickly became fascinated with my many voyeuristic peeks into long-lost lives.
Then I became just a little embarrassed.
The humiliation began slowly. It first started when I became Facebook “friends” with a guy I briefly dated my last year of college. I remember him as a studious, white ballcap-wearing, Phish fan (this describes 90% of the boys who went to my college in the ‘90s and 100% of the boys I dated).
He was sweet and we had fun but the whole thing soured because I was losing my head over my upcoming graduation. In fact, the memory I most associate with this relationship is its ending. Something about me collapsing in tears after receiving my fourth graduate school rejection letter and him saying, “I never knew you were so weak.” Ah! Young romance!
Unfortunately, I learned through recent our Facebook relationship that he remembers something very different about me: an unnatural obsession with the movie The Lion King that included compulsive movie viewing, a CD sing-along, and a grocery store coloring book. How terribly embarrassing.
But wait, there’s more. This time I had the equivalent of an email blush when I Facebooked with a lad I dated one summer in high school. He wrote a message in my Facebook Inbox that said:
“Every time I talk to Melissa from Odessa we discuss that time you threw a purse at her head. It has become the stuff of legend.”
I wrote back and explained that I had never even met a person named Melissa from Odessa, much less tossed a purse at said person’s noggin. And even after much correspondence and conversation with the lad, I still cannot remember a single second of this legendary incident. But I apparently have made my imprint upon some stranger’s life history as the crazy girl who tried to brain her with a handbag in the bathroom of some hick party in Odessa, Texas. (I think I was the hick in question.)
I’m starting to think that I blocked out such incidents out of shame. And I understand even better why these ex-beaus and I didn’t work out.
My husband had the same experience when he touched base with an old friend from college. On a rational level he knew that the woman was certainly a complex, interesting person who had much to offer from her wealth of life experience since their last meeting. But all Jeff could think when talking to her was, “This is the poor girl who had her dress ruined when the house dog humped her leg at a fraternity party.”
That story made me appreciate that I was only a mere Simba nut/purse pitcher.
It’s hard being in touch with people who have been out of my life for 15 years. I tend to place members of my personal history into a mental cold storage unit where they remain ever-youthful and unscarred. It is quite a shock to see a Facebook photo of the paunchy, bloated human resources administrator that a onetime sexy and waifish Kirk Cobain wanna-be has since morphed into.
But it’s also refreshing to check out a photo of a still-gorgeous Latina mama or learn that the hot boy from high school is still just that, plus a few gray hairs. My shallow side enjoys seeing that time has treated some folks quite kindly and that my frozen snapshots often match up to today’s reality.
This more than makes up for all the small humiliations.