Facebook is a fascinating social phenomenon. Facebook allows us to all be connected in a very public forum, even with those whom we are only connected peripherally in “real life”. On Facebook, it’s okay to be connected to your brother-in-law’s babysitter, or your housekeeper with whom your major “real life” interaction is a transfer of money (usually left on the counter) and very little – if any – personal conversation. Interesting where the boundaries of privacy become blurred when it comes to “real life” versus Facebook: you let your housekeeper into your house to clean your most intimate spaces, yet when your housekeeper’s online status updates include the details of his or her family’s vomit-filled weekend due to the flu or their depressingly public “poor me and my sad life” personal statements, (see The 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers) it all becomes more to handle than you’d like for a relationship with the person who cleans your toilets and invokes an unthinkable action in Facebookland: defriending. Which is okay, because really? Are you friends with your housekeeper? If so…well, then your next cleaning may be slightly more awkward, assuming that your housekeeper is online often enough (and stalking you online often enough) to know that you defriended him or her. In which case you should probably seek out a new housekeeper anyway.
Facebook also connects us – however peripherally – with those we’d really rather not be connected to. For example, an ex’s new girlfriend. And while mild curiousity makes a quick sneak peek at said new girlfriend’s online profile appealing, it can also be so very detrimental to one’s self esteem. Now in “real life,” when an ex obtains a new significant other, there is always the possibility that you – as the other half of the disbanded pair – will have to eventually meet the New Girl. And as luck – or lack thereof – will have it, you are likely to run into this happy couple when you have just exited the gym, after a particularly bad day at work, when it’s that time of the month and also raining. And being the happy couple that they are, they’re likely to be on their way out to dinner, dressed to the nines and looking fresh as though it was a balmy 72 degrees, because he’ll be holding an umbrella over her head while gazing at her adoringly. This is likely to happen at some point, but hopefully – unless you are traveling in the same circle of friends – not with any regularity.
Unless you are on Facebook.
Because on Facebook, you have to decide – after the mutual (or one-sided) parting of your “real life” union – whether to remain friends online or end your Facebook relationship in addition to your “real” relationship. And even if you decide to end your online union by mutual defriending, you may still – due to individual privacy setting options available to Facebook users – end up seeing your ex’s new girlfriend anyway. Even if you’ve decided that you want nothing to do with your ex – ever – you may find that between your group of 226 friends and his group of 447 friends online, somewhere down the road your friend paths will cross and in your goddamn mini feed will end up a tagged photo of your ex-boyfriend and the New Girl, looking fabulous of course – because naturally, only people’s best photos are posted on the internet.
Lately, Facebook has been making me feel pretty good. I’ve been consistently validated by my friends and family for my “funny” status updates and dry sense of humor, which are probably the highest compliments I could receive, given that writing gives me a tremendous amount of joy and I’ve discovered that I’m much funnier online than in person (unless in the company of my dad and brothers, who somehow make me funny verbally by proxy).
However, every now and again I find that Facebook brings me down as unexpectedly as if I’d just seen my ex and his New Girl on the street right in front of my apartment, as their photos and comments and stories show up – through mutual friends – in my minifeed in such a way that I can’t escape them and their irritating happiness.
Case in point: I commented on a photo in a friend’s photo album. And he just so happens to be a friend that I met through an “ex” and who has continued to be a friend – long after the other shaky union dissolved – because he’s just a nice guy, and frankly as peripherally as I know him, I know him a lot better than some of my other “friends” on Facebook so I’m unwilling to defriend him. Did that make sense? Anyway. Because I commented on his photo, other photo comments began to crop up on my notifications via Facebook, several of which were from my ex and his New Girl, who are both friends with my friend. And so I had to see the New Girl. And it was upsetting, because she’s beautiful. And trendy. And frankly exactly the kind of girl I’ve always suspected my ex actually wanted to be with (instead of yours truly). And her profile picture includes my ex (as his includes her) – that kind of smiling, “aren’t I soooo lucky?!” profile pic that’s a knife to the heart of every jilted girl. And this is precisely the irritating, smug happiness I have been trying so hard to avoid. However, upon closer inspection of her Facebook comment on my friend’s photo, I noticed something. Something that made me snicker. And then chuckle. And then feel smugly superior to the point where I now realize why my ex and the New Girl are so perfect for each other:
She wrote the word “there” when what she clearly meant to say was “they’re” – which is exactly the kind of literary mistake my ex so often makes. Neither of them can write, and that’s just perfect.
So I’m feeling a little Carrie Bradshaw this evening, a la “Attack of the 5′ 10″ Woman” episode – because I’ve discovered that despite New Girl’s beauty, she’s simply not as smart as me. Okay, that’s harsh. Perhaps she’s very intelligent, and simply lacks a dedication to grammar, punctuation and accurate spelling. But you know what? Those things are important to me. And just as Carrie discovered that Natasha didn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” I’m discovering that New Girl doesn’t know the difference between “their,” they’re” and “their”. Which doesn’t “matter,” per se, certainly not when it comes to love in the long run – but it makes me think about my talents and qualities, and what I bring to the table in a relationship, and that despite New Girl’s beauty (and evident charm, at least to my ex), she’s not perfect. I may not be 5′ 10″ – but at the end of the day, I can spell.