i am very grateful to facebook. if you have an account, you are grateful too. even if you don’t say so. facebook is how you keep up with your family and friends–yeah, right, but it’s also where you hang out, play farmville, castleville and diamond dash, post pictures of your friends lying on a couch passed out with a bottle of jim beam, and where you play the next flashmob coup d’etat of your home country. facebook is a party room in which you are always the v.i.p. facebook is grateful to you because you give the company its biggest asset: the most comprehensive user database in existence. it’s an n.r.a. mailing list on steroids.
in visiting my facebook friends, i have used planes, trains, and automobiles. when you get a flat tire, take it off the car and pour soapy water on it. wherever you see bubbles is where you have a leak! i am working out the details on fixing this one!
facebook was founded in mark zuckerberg’s harvard dorm room in 2004. i joined up in 2007, mostly so i could troll through my sons’ friends lists in order to ascertain whether they were being targeted by predators. i got addicted. i then in 2011 i decided to make the facebook experience a real one–and resolved to visit each of my facebook friends in person.
facebook went public this spring and was initially offered at $38 per share. this past friday, facebook closed at slightly under $23. investors are dumping the stock, in part because facebook faces a challenge in servicing users who have iphones, android and tablets. somehow i think the zuckerberg team will figure this one out.
christian bertelsen–chief investment dude at the global financial private capital company–calls facebook a “tomorrow stock” and he’s right. facebook is nothing to invest in if you are going to check out the stock price every day, every hour, every minute. which means that the exact sort of person who uses facebook–and updates their status every day, every hour, every minute–is exactly the wrong candidate to be a facebook shareholder.
mark, i believe in you. actually, i believe in the incredible database that you’ve accumulated which allows companies to target advertising with such precision. which is why i keep seeing ads on my page about how to get rid of wrinkles and belly fat. p.s. thank you and facebook friend tony tyner for the birthday wishes!
so i say buy facebook stock. buy lots of it. and then don’t check for updated status. give it three years, which on a facebook timeline is like eternity. amazon went through a similar bust-o and folks were talking about it being “just a bookstore” on the internet–now amazon is retailer to the world.
mark zuckerberg has the best incentive to make facebook work. he was worth $19.1 billion on the day of the i.p.o. and now you’re worth a paltry $11.9 billion (after selling off 30 million shares to raise money to feed the i.r.s.). it’s hardly enough money to live on.
mark, you can send me diamonds out of your petty cash drawer! i don’t think you’re motivated by the money–as you have said, “we don’t build services to make money, we make money so we can build better services.”
just for a moment! i have made a commitment to do some other writing and so that’s what i’m going to do. a girl’s gotta work and today’s job is to organize a year’s worth of facebook friendship blogs into some sort of sense.
casey’s flyboy was the first book i ever wrote. it was about an anthropologist in alaska who falls in love with a pilot. the editor who called to say she wanted to buy it asked me how long i had lived in alaska. i confessed i had never even been to the state. thanks to facebook i have been to nome, kotsebue, anchorage and homer, alaska.
the scariest and most daunting distance in writing a book is from the blank page to the first sentence. i’m a little nervous. but while i’m biting my fingernails, i wanted to share with you a story written by my facebook friend 294 molly parshall. i met her at her home in coldwater, michigan because she wanted to understand how i had overcome my fears and phobias to get out there and meet facebook friends. she wanted some of that for herself. when i first met her, she couldn’t come out onto the front porch of her own house to talk to me. now. . . well, let her tell it the way she wants to:
i haven’t eliminated panic attacks or the powerful desire to shut the door and make the world go away. in fact, today i had to take two ativan and sit in the parking lot of the local hospital so that i could dash into the emergency room if the ativan didn’t make it all better. it must have worked because after twenty minutes i was reading the august issue of allure magazine and pondering whether i’m too old for purple mascara.
so, with a warm welcome to guest blogger and beautiful friend molly parshall:
My name is Molly I am 27 years old and I live in a small town in Lower Michigan. For the past 8 years I have struggled with agoraphobia. I have missed out on countless trips with my family, family functions, holidays, you name it I missed it. My sister came to me last Christmas and told me she was getting married and she really wanted me to attend her wedding. I felt doomed that I would never be able to make it to her wedding. I was scared and upset that she too would be disappointed by me and the agoraphobia would again win. The longer I sat watching the world go by around me the more I wanted to get out of the house. So one day I got a wild hair and decided enough was enough and I set off on my very first journey. I didn’t tell anyone where we were going or when we would be back. I am sure they assumed our trip would be short lived and back home within a few minutes because that is all I was able to do. Oh how wrong they were… As we headed down the road both my husband and son not knowing what I had planned to do, I navigated them down the side streets of our little town, Out on the back roads we went (avoiding as much traffic as possible) We usually take the country roads if possible. I didn’t get too far before I started to feel anxious and then the tears started flowing, I held my husband’s hands and with tears in my eyes I told him, “I am scared… I want to go home” He asked if I wanted him to turn around to which I replied “No, I will be ok” “I am not turning back” He said ok just let me know if you need me to turn around. My son in the back seat kept telling me I was ok. After a ways down a few different roads they finally realized that I was making the trip out to see My in-laws who live 13.4 Miles from my house (22 minutes by car if you take the main roads) but the route I had to take made it a 13.7 mile trip (31 minutes by car) Half way to their house tears of joy came over me and I was so proud of myself.. My son kept saying you’re doing it Mommy… You’re doing it… I am so proud of you!! By the time I got on the final road before their place, Sheer panic had fully set in… I wanted to turn back but knew if I could push through the anxiety just a few more minutes I would be at their house and that I did! I made it with no problems. I was able to stay at their house for over an hour and a half with no problems what so ever… I surprised myself at how good I did. I had accomplished what I set out to do and if that meant just pushing through the anxiety with no help of medication etc. I did it. I didn’t know that by doing that I had opened up the road to adventure. I haven’t stopped since then. I have visited my Grandma grave on Mother’s Day (haven’t been there in years) went to my sisters, My in-laws for dinner (again) Visited my friend and her family, went out to a friend’s farm for my son to see their horses and mules, Visited Grandma J among other people. I even made it to the dentist just recently I didn’t take any medication to do my travels EXCEPT the dentist which me meds didn’t kick in until after I left my appointment. I have been taking my son every day to the park program and picking him up (except on Fridays cause I don’t have a license) I guess in the simplest terms the only reason I am getting out and enjoying life once again is I pushed myself, I pushed myself through the fear, anxiety, and unknown. I knew deep down that I would be ok. The dentist appointment seemed to be the hardest adventure yet because I hate going to the dentist… But I sure did have the best motivate ever in the form of an 8 year old blue eyed boy who told me as I sat in the house hyperventilating in fear… You know Mommy… You don’t have to be scare, I heard on TV you have to face your fears, so come on well face that fear together… How could I refuse? If my 8 year old son could do it, so could I! So I am one step closer to attending my sister’s wedding, she is going to get her wish; her only sister is going to attend her wedding!!
I have great faith that anyone can accomplish what I did; all they need are a few simple things.
1.) The want
2.) The support of loved ones
3.) Courage to try it
4.) Persistence to push through it!
I am not saying it was easy by any means it was not easy when I started out and I still have Pajama days where I really don’t want to leave my house but I still try and make it a point to leave everyday even if it’s for a short trip out! I know I still have a long road of recovery ahead of me but I will make it. I have a great network of friends on Facebook who are agoraphobic to and they seem to give me a bit of reassurance that I can do it, I do it for them, my family & my friends… But most of all Myself!!
on my birthday, i received from my son joseph (facebook friend 61) a somewhat mystifying series of packages. two maps, one of the world and another of the united states. and a package of pushpins. the accompanying note made the usual references to candles, wishes, years, many more, etc. and then “you know what to do with this”. . . which i thought i did. i unrolled both maps, took out the datebooks from 2011 and from this year.
before i made the new year’s resolution to meet all my facebook friends and connect/reconnect in person, i was riddled with anxiety about leaving my house or leaving the little village of winnetka. i still am. i have used cars, trains, planes, buses to see my friends–but never a pony. maybe i need a pink one!
my first trips were within illinois or to neighboring states of indiana, michigan, wisconsin, iowa and missouri. i had eight friends in kearney, missouri. still do! each trip i tried to be efficient–sort of like going to the dry cleaner on the way to the grocery store and stopping at the gas station on the way back.
sometimes people who are solitary, shy, housebound for whatever reason can use facebook and other social networking sites to keep in touch with their friends and family. in my case, i used facebook as a substitute for being with my friends and family.
on thursday, october 13, 2011 i flew from chicago to anchorage and drove southwest to the tip of the kenai peninsula to meet facebook friend 233 christy russ. we drank elderberry wine and ate fish that came from the harbor. the next morning caught a flight from anchorage to kotzebue and beyond to meet facebook friend 234 ian coglan in nome. i was amazed at how many bars and tanning salons that town has. by eight a.m. sunday morning i was back in chicago. it’s hard to remember that this state is four times as big as texas!
i finished with the pushpins and asked joseph what he meant. he said “you need to write a book about this and you need to do it now.” i said yes, i will. i’d like to. he said, “no, mom, i am serious. you need to get started.” i said yes, i will. he said, “i mean it, stop traveling for a bit and write this.” i said i’m worried about whether i can find a publisher. he said “you need to just stop thinking and worrying and just do it.” i asked where did you learn to nag like this? and he said “from you, of course.”
the best way to make a resolution to do something is to tell your friends and family and ask them to make you accountable. whether it’s losing weight, stopping the love affair with the nicotine sticks or the bottle, or meeting every facebook friend. so i am asking you–will you help make me accountable?
christmas, valentine’s day, mother’s day, my birthday. the four dread horsemen of the calendar. from a distance, wonderful and appealing. the moment of impact? horrific. well, maybe not the moment of impact. it’s the night before. i always think i will be forgotten by those i love. and everyone else. and i’ve had those years.
i was put up for adoption by my parents when i was three years old. after twenty two years, i used a private detective to track down my natural/biological parents justin and aleta. today there’s open adoptions. there’s tracking your parents down on facebook. or maury povich.
when the future queen of france was sent from austria to meet her husband the future louis the xvi, at the border she was required to change her name from maria antonia to marie antoinette and to strip naked and re-dress in clothes provided by the french. she also had to give up her dog and her ladies in waiting. in 1963 when i was adopted, my name was changed from arlynn merrill leiber to lynn melody patrick, i took no clothes with me from my old home, and i gave up my stuffed kitten. i did not get jewelry and versailles. on the other hand, i didn’t get beheaded. go see farewell my quee. after all, it’s been three long years since a marie antoinette movie has been playing in theaters!
i thought i had a good (or at least okay) relationship with these new/old parents and it surprised me that both forgot my birthday the first year we were in contact. i would like to say that i didn’t mind that justin and aleta didn’t remember. but i did. i howled and whined. i was a petty, sniveling, blotchy faced wreck. but in private. a few days later, justin reminded me that my infant half sister casey’s birthday was coming up and i said it was interesting that we shared the same astrological sign. a dozen roses showed up the next morning with a belated birthday greeting. as for my mother aleta, the matter resurfaced in october. she called me in a fury. i had forgotten her birthday.
“but you never told me when your birthday was!” i wailed. “and besides, you forgot mine!”
“how was i supposed to know yours?” aleta countered.
“because you were there!”
as you can imagine, this interaction didn’t help our relationship. i think i hold aleta responsible for my adoption although since aleta and justin were married it must have been a joint decision at some level. i know if my ex-husband had ever asked me to put up joseph or eastman for adoption, i would have balked. not that he ever would have. eight years after this conversation, aleta terminated our relationship over an issue involving my payment of her health insurance. justin and i have our ups and downs–and some years he remembers my birthday and some years he doesn’t.
on july 22 every year i have a massive anxiety attack slash pity party. this year was no exception. it started at five o’clock with the shakes and chest pain. it ramped up with crying and shaking. i was utterly and completely convinced that i was forgotten, alone, without purpose, and about to die. it would be months before anybody would notice my demise.
how does santa know where you are if you’ve sold your house? this past month, a new family moved in and i haven’t got my bearings. it would be massively worse if santa were to die! but that won’t happen because as long as there are children and retail establishments who believe in him he will live!
and then something odd happened. a facebook friend posted a picture of a birthday cake on my profile page. another posted a link to a recording of mickey mouse singing happy birthday. then a link to youtube showed up, and it was my friend jose’s youtube post for my day — you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VluSLAGdwY&feature=youtu.be
i even received a birthday greeting from mark zuckerberg, the founder of facebook. he’s pictured here with tony tyner, mr. 314, meaning that tony is the 314th facebook friend i have met. hey, many thanks mark and tony! btw, married life must be treating you nicely, mark, because you look like you’ve put on a few pounds!
i needed to say thank you to each person and that took me most of my birthday but it was a wonderful way to notice, remember, reconnect with each friend. because even if facebook automatically puts a notification on your page reminding you of which friends are having birthdays, it still takes thought and care to write out a greeting or post a picture or photoshop an image just for me!
i realized that i had cried because i thought i was forgotten and i sure as heck wasn’t. in fact, all told, i wrote eleven hundred notes of thanks yesterday and today and i’m still behind. sending each thank you changed my perspective, and turned me around.
thank you facebook!
and also thank you to facebook for an interesting feature: every time a friend posts on your wall, your mutual friends are notified. so, for instance, when my son eastman’s friend will (who was the 176th facebook friend i met with) sent me a “happy birthday mrs. presser” eastman would have been informed. and in a remarkable coincidence eastman called me about twenty minutes after will’s message. he says he’s sent me a package but that it won’t get to me for a few days.
i don’t know where eastman sent this package but i figure if santa can keep track of every little child, eastman can certainly find his mom. i just hope santa or a package shows up at the daughters of the american revolution meeting where i’ve been invited to speak on thursday evening. oh, but i forget that santa won’t be available–he’s in tahiti because this is his off season!
meanwhile, my other son joseph (the sixty first facebook friend) sent me a present that will change my life. i will assemble it today!
without pictures of cute puppies and kittens, most social networking sites would collapse.*
one exception, of course, is linkedin because these guys are, like, serious. about their networking. i have a linkedin account but i never use it because i get intimidated. also, there is no reason anybody should want to network with me because i can’t even get myself a job, much less find one for someone else!
some of my facebook friends are cats and dogs and i am particularly close to my facebook friends PB and Joe Kral, who were the 250th and 251st facebook friends i met with. pb had read an article about me and reached out because she thought i might enjoy being friends with her dog joe. pb and her husband own five dogs. only joe has a facebook account and he has over thirteen hundred friends. some of them are dogs and some of them are, like me, people. joe’s dog friends include skeeter sez, chubbyhugs wallace, stewie dadane, and chester hoover. all of these dogs are friends or followers of nigel buggers, a dog who is the self-described chief hound of “life with dogs” —
every year, the dogs in joe’s circle of friends send their “moms” to a facebook party. this year the party was held at the kral home in lake forest, illinois. guests came from as far away as england and i was particularly happy to finally meet chester hoover’s mom. chester is my facebook friend. so is chester’s mom, michelle statler who is the 325th facebook friend i have met since i made a new year’s resolution at the beginning of 2011 to meet all my facebook friends as well as andrea joffe (326) who came all the way from cincinnati, ohio. . . something makes me think i’m going to see her again when i make my next visit to my son eastman (facebook friend number one) at oberlin college.
*one of the great pleasures of my day is reading the blogpost of my friend pink ninjabi–she employs cute kitten pictures to make insightful and witty and fun observations about being a canadian chinese convert to islam. go check it out at pinkninabi.com!
in vegas, with my facebook friend chaperones reggie and vince, we planned on meeting up with facebook friend niteen joshilkar. i was very interested in meeting him because he has done me the most important favor in this facebook project. when he noticed that i was receiving so many friendship requests that i was teetering on the edge of 5,000, he created a “public profile” page where people who want to keep track of my adventures can subscribe and send me messages. i was grateful. but also i think niteen is wonderful.
alas, niteen was in florida stuck in meetings and missed his flight. so i had some time to kill in vegas. i asked only one thing:
alas, we left the next day without any new shoes and with niteen having never gotten back to his home in vegas. but with all the poker, the free champagne, the food, the dazzling showgirls, i think the most fun was going to the monet exhibit at the bellagio hotel.
at lax airport, i asked vince and reggie for their postal addresses. i wanted to send them thank you notes for their valor and courage in being my chaperones. because no matter how close you feel to a person you correspond with on facebook, myspace, linkedin, etc., you should allow for safety first.
easy enough to send vince p. a thank you note but reggie is being shipped out to afghanistan in two weeks. so for the moment, he doesn’t have a fixed address. . . just like me. so instead, i have to say it here: thank you reggie! i asked him what he wanted in care packages and he replied toilet paper and food. lots of food. will do, captain!
i’m terribly sad that i missed meeting niteen joshilkar. but flight has delays, cancellations, booking problems, hassles. and so i will wait and try again. meanwhile, i look forward to turning fifty two and thinking i am part of a wonderful adventure–life!
facebook was originally a term given to the student directories that certain schools gave out to make remembering the name of the cute dude in calculus easier. harvard, where mark zuckerberg attended, didn’t have a facebook but several of the fraternities and sororities had their own individual facebooks.
mark had a little fun by hacking into the databases for these facebooks and creating “facemash” — an online game of “hot or not” in which players rated side by side pictures of their classmates. the game attracted 450 players and 22,000 views in the first four hours. mark got into some trouble and was nearly expelled but then he decided that “facemash” had tapped into some primal needs for connection and for looking at cute potentials. facemash didn’t ask players to rate pictures of adorable kittens, inspirational thoughts, or team logos–all of which have been or are presently used by some of my facebook friends!
mark played around with other similar applications, eventually hitting on what we now use as facebook. facebook sometimes makes us believe we have a rich and varied social life when we really haven’t even gotten out of bed all day. and facebook sometimes brings people together who wouldn’t normally interact. one of the surprises of my new years resolution to meet my facebook friends was discovering how different and yet how similar i am to my friends.
this past week i went to los angeles with two chaperones reggie gholston and vincent peters. i sometimes take chaperones because it’s a good safety measure.
i also took these chaperones because reggie (on the left) is being deployed to afghanistan in a few weeks. he will be gone for a year and my “care” packages will include smokes, toilet paper, and food. both vince and reggie are my facebook friends, but they are more than that. they are my buddies.
one of the facebook friends i wanted to meet was #324 brandon day. he is a twentysomething genius who ran into a bit of trouble a few years ago when he experienced full on agoraphobia. it was difficult for him to explain to his family and friends what he was going through–panic attacks that made it impossible for him to get beyond the front door. i think with facebook people can connect and relate their common experiences and they don’t feel so alone or so weird.
and that’s an even more important application of mark zuckerberg’s genius than offering the world the opportunity to rate their fellow humans hot or not.
brandon’s genius is in the creation of phone apps, video games and whatnot. through the magic of facebook i am friends with sarah, whom i visited in detroit. she is agoraphobic. and she wants very much to create video games, which she oughta be real good at because video games is how she gets through her day. i introduced the two of them via facebook and when i met brandon we had a message for her.
brandon is working on a phone application and website to help agoraphobics like sarah and our fondest wish is that the three of us will be together for lunch in los angeles, detroit, chicago, london, paris, rome?
meanwhile, on the other coast, last night i received a message from facebook friend michele piersiak. she lives in staten island and has had trouble leaving the house for a year. i visited her and she felt i was “safe” to walk around the neighborhood with. we talked about major goals–hers is to become a psychologist who helps people with social anxieties. and then we talked about minor goals. i think of minor goals as the things that may sound silly to other people but they are building blocks for your major goal. michele’s is to have dinner at laconde verde, a restaurant in manhattan owned by robert deniro. there are reservations under my name for august ninth! in order to do that, she has had to make mini-goals of walking around her neighborhood on her own, going to shops and stores, using public transportation. just yesterday, she readied herself for the laconde verde lunch by going to lunch with facebook pal carolyn quinn. facebook matchmaking.
you can play hot or not on facebook, but i think facebook and other social networking sites have a lot more to offer. or maybe i am just worried i’d get a “not”!
after saying goodbye to brandon, the chaperones and i headed for las vegas where we would ultimately end up with friendship tragedy. still, if our adventure could be a moviemash it would be “driving miss daisie” and “the hangover”. . .