Wednesday, November 17, 2010

my quiet rebellion ...

something is rotten ...

As John Lennon so aptly put it "Nobody told me there'd be days like these."

Yesterday was one of those days.

I couldn't figure out why my shoe was sticking to the brake pedal while driving and so I pulled over to discover a wad of electric green, minty gum and a mound of hairs stuck to the bottom of my clog.

I went to pick Cowgirl up at school wearing my Moose walking outfit which I will admit is a tad eclectic but certainly not deserving of the stares and giggles of a pair of first graders who proclaimed, in a stage whisper "WHO is that woman?!" (This is a topic for another post if not a therapy session as I was simultaneously indigent, humiliated, vengeful, and ashamed. Yes, I even cried in the car telling Cowgirl "some people I don't even know were mean to me and hurt my feelings and I know I shouldn't care because they don't know me, but I do." To which she wisely counseled: "Mommy, just ignore them." And no, I did not tell her they were kids!)

The dog found a lone skittle, ate it and promptly threw up.

But this day of trials akin to Job on his dung heap started when I tried to log into my Facebook page and received the message "this account has been deactivated."

Now, understand I joined FB kicking and screaming. Friends would say "If you were on FB then you would already know ..." and having lost numerous email address books, I figured it was time to plug myself in and join the party. I was excited to find old friends who had vanished into the mist (or had I vanished?) and I did reconnect with a few people but by and large, I have found the experience unsatisfying. It is like sushi: I can enjoy a bite or two, but cold, raw fish is not my idea of a fully satisfying meal. That's just me.

So to be jilted by FB was particularly galling.

And in typical fashion, trying to find answers is like entering the Minotaur's labyrinth. You go 'round and 'round and end up back where you started. There are no humans behind that blue and white screen: I firmly believe FB is run by the Cylons and they are here to torment us. (Off the subject, but not really, did you know when you call businesses or companies for assistance and there seems to be no option for speaking to a flesh and blood person on the answering machine queue, you can say loudly and anxiously "I want to speak to someone" and sometimes that will trigger the system to switch you over to a representative. I know this from trying to help my 85 year old mother get info on her health insurance and was released from automation limbo by shouting "For the love of God, I want to talk to a person!" I was clicked right over.)

But back to FB and my slow simmer ...

All afternoon (after the gum; after being humiliated by 7 year olds) my mind churned with thoughts regarding FB and how I was infuriated by being denied, and relieved to be out from under the weight of my expectations. Because I keep hoping for something real in all those mini-bites of information; I desire connection with people I once was deeply connected to and I wanted to be in the loop of information. But it struck me that the reason so many give for being on FB - it is free and it is easy to stay in touch with friends - is precisely why it is so empty and false. If the foundation for my relationships is free and easy, then am I really connecting at all? Shouldn't relationships - friendships - require more? Don't I want to give more? And don't I deserve an equal level of commitment and attention?

So last night I went to bed believing that in fact the Universe had just handed me a beautiful gift. Sure, I was sad to think of losing the contacts recently made via online communities and courses but I could find those people in other ways. And while contemplating a FB-free world, I decided I want to commit to nurturing the relationships that matter to me via a rather old fashioned way:

I am returning to writing letters and postcards and using the good old U.S. Mail.

I used to write a lot of letters. I blamed my declining handwriting for the eventual cessation of written correspondence but really, it is a matter of me slowing down and dedicating a piece of time to think and write (legibly) and connect. A small rebellion, I know, but it is my attempt to put some flesh and blood back into what has become all too virtual. (Hello? Anyone read The Handmaid's Tale? Am I the only one bothered by the fact that so much of our identity and history could be wiped out with a click of a mouse, a cyber-coup to end all coups?)

So here is my end of year vow: once a week to send out some piece of mail to a friend. It may be a letter, an art postcard, a postcard grabbed while in line at Walgreen's and a poem scribble on the back. Whatever it is, it will be me committing my time, my awareness, my hand to say to each recipient "you matter to me and you are deserving of my attention."

I would love to think I might get mail in return, but I'm not kidding myself. Free and easy is very tempting and I understand people are busy and over-committed. But I hope in some small way to reconnect in a more meaningful manner, nurturing my relationships with my love and attention. Care to join me?

As it would happen (and proof that Cylons are running the show) as mysteriously as my FB account disappeared, it reappeared today. So here I hang on the horns of a dilemma: do I stay but on my terms? Or do I go and hold my head up high? I haven't decided yet because I know there are people I will never hear from again and I am not quite ready to give up the dream. But I do plan to wean myself off of its teat bit by bit, day by day, letter by letter. I mailed off a letter and a art card today and it felt great holding the heft of a stuffed envelope in my hands. Maybe my other resolution should be to start collecting snail mail addresses in preparation for departure?

But for now, my permanent status should you check my FB account, will be: busy writing letters.


  1. Oh! What a great, great post! I echo you about FB. Every now and then I remember I should log in because I forget. I have lost many buddies to FB, them preferring to be there than here. It will have it's day, personally I've found it's not really my cup of tea. But the gum on the shoe, the humiliation by juniors, well that's just a rotten day. A day to go to bed early, pull the covers over your head and realize that tomorrow is another day. Hopefully it will be and know that you are in good - nay, great - company by not being a FB regular.

  2. I believe this is the third post I've read in the past 24 hours about quitting Facebook. You're in fabulous company! Needless to say, I'm feeling very smug about having never joined:) Oh, and I can so relate to having your feelings hurt by the 7 year olds! Who is that woman? She is AMAZING, that's who she is:)

  3. What a terrible, no good, perfectly awful day! Hope you've recovered from those mean girls-- your daughter gives good advice. I'm also ambivalent about all this technology....when it works, it can be a great tool. When it doesn't, it can drive me crazy. (Did you read Oryx and Crake? An even darker vision of the future!)

    I find FB useful for staying in touch with some far flung friends and relatives. And my daughters post adorable videos of my grandbabies, so I have to stay logged in.

    Of course, getting a handwritten note is so much nicer, but fewer and fewer folks are doing it. I think it will soon be a lost art. I'm glad you're doing your bit to keep it alive a little longer. :)

  4. ah, come on over to the Dark Side (that's for people who have deleted their FB accounts! - yep....did it over a year ago...very freeing)

    i jumped on the snail-mail train a while ago also...i really enjoy it, but it does get a bit depressing when no-one writes you back. :(

    but you've reminded me...i really should persevere with it...because it's way cooler.


    ps. that story about the 'mean girls' made me very indignant on your behalf.

  5. Hey Lisa .. I so hear you.. i have been feeling overwhelmed with all the social media and find it sucks all my time from keeping in touch with the ones I really want to like U.. I also have skype. maybe we can connect that way?

    Love ya sis,

  6. So glad to have found your post! Totally needed some solidarity regarding FB and love - no LOVE! your tag phrase of busy writing letters! I'm a freak wen it comes to paper. I collect it for texture, color and hand - love it and have been finding myself recently drawn back to dropping a line - literally in the mail. But before doing this I had to do research on how much a frick'n US stamp cost these days, the ladies at the post office were more than kind in hooking me up with all the right postage and I got to stick letters in the mail and reopen the slot to make sure they went down the hatch! Your post is filled with priceless insight! Do you think shouting, "For the love of God, I want to talk to a person!" would put me in contact with the higher forces? I really could use some guidance regarding how to navigate my way through a seemingly long strand of unfortunate events. mama it's been quite a ride. thanks for sharing!

  7. I totally understand what you're saying about Facebook and in general.

    I stopped using Facebook for a while for reasons like these.

    Also, you are not alone in your return to postal mail!! This is spreading to more and more people. Not everyone will write back, but I'm sure some will. Here's to mail! :)

  8. Lis,

    What a great post. I love the snail mail idea. Would you like to exchange postcards. I have always enjoyed getting mail and sending it too!. I use FB for local connections. I miss all the people who used to blog and now spend time on Fb.Its just not the same I think the blogging format gives you the ability to do so much more... I was so much closer to them when they blogged now all I get are sound bites when before I knew part of their lives.


  9. Kate and anyone interested ... I would LOVE to exchange some mail! I am actually running an artcard swap over on 21 Secrets and it has been such fun and super easy. Anyone wanting to swap with just email me your snail mail info and I will send you mine. My email address is at the bottom of the right sidebar under Karma Police. I cannot promise how quickly I will get something off ... but then again, isn't the element of surprise so much better? How nice it would have been if during this day of trials I had gone to the mailbox and amongst the catalogs, bills and fliers there had been a postcard with a single smiley face starring out at me? Yes, I am so happy to learn of the underground train of writers scribbling away for our liberation ...

    and Mean Girls - oh wow! I confess, yesterday I wore my dress coat, no hat (I froze!) but also my well worn clogs. The Mean Girls did not recognize me. Happily, Cowgirl informed me one of her friends at school "likes me." Sigh.

  10. yes, other than the initial reconnecting of an old friend, FB isn't serving a huge purpose in my life. some people love it tho.
    why was your account cancelled, i wonder? weird.
    anyway, i LOVE real mail, and it's so rare these days, so i think it's great your opting to get back into sending postcards and letters. much better than FB, if only you could find those addresses... :)

  11. oh, and i also wanted to say, i'm glad it was MINTy gum, and not dog poop! and least it didn't smell bad in your car! ;)

  12. What a horrible days! It's amazing how some days just stink, no matter what we do, but they usually hold some great lessons too and it seems you've found a great one here. Love the thought of sending something out regularly. I will get around to doing some 21 secret stuff soon, would love to join that card swap.

    Btw, I quit FB cold turkey about a year ago, and am so happy with that decision. Yes, I've lost out on connecting with some people from the past, but know the connection couldn't be that strong if it didn't survive me leaving FB...

  13. Lovely Lis, sorry that you had such an infuriating day, but I am glad that you are writing letters :) I adore writing letters, in fact I do have somewhat of an addiction.Am off to send you a little something :)

  14. Real mail is the BEST BEST thing ever!I remember the days when I would write & receive letters from many of my friends all over the world-almost EVERY day.It was my primary source of communication.So much more of my true self gets poured into a letter/card.We are all happy that FB has forced your hand :) Although I must point out that you have (justifiably) complained about the negatives of FB in a BLOG post hehehe :) Blessings-

  15. I think it's wonderful that you share your struggles openly with your daughter. You are doing your daughter a tremendous service by showing her that yes, adults feelings get hurt, too.

    AND - I have very much been thinking lately how much I miss writing letters!

    Hope it's a better week for you. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of life that we all know oh so well.


  16. Beautiful post! And I applaud for being you for being strong enough to be vulnerable in front of your daughter and feel those feelings. I believe that is where our true power lies, even though sometimes it sucks to feel those feelings. :) What a shame those kids don't have the luxury and the confidence to wear their dog walking outfits around :)

    And I have been thinking A LOT about Facebook since Marisa's post. Since I have been on it, I've felt more disconnected than connected. I haven't been logging on as much, but can't bring myself to delete the account yet. But as long as I have the account, I still feel energetically attached to it. I was thinking of trying a life experiment of deleting my account for a month, and then re-establishing after a month if I feel it brings something positive to my life that outweighs the negative.

    We'll see what happens :)

    ((big hugs)) to you - and god bless you for wearing your dog walking outfit! We need more people who don't let fear dictate their wardrobe choices!


  17. Excellent post! I've been feeling very much the same way regarding my computer in general. It sucks so much of my time up and I find myself not doing things I use to LOVE to do, like reading or writing in my notebooks or doing embroidery and don't even get me started on handwriting letters. I use to be known for writing LONG letters and now I hardly ever send out even a short note. Technology is wonderful but it tends to suck me in to the exclusion of other things. I need to work on keeping it as just a small tool to connect with the world, not the primary one. If you ever want to exchange real mail, I'll write you back!!