After living overseas for several years in countries where access to Facebook was prohibited, I find that I’ve emerged into a new social dynamic, complete with its own jargon.
I was at a friend’s house last night, and a lady was invited over whom I’d never met before. When she entered the room, I stood and said, “Hello. I don’t think we’ve met.”
Her reply is forcing me to grapple with the redefinition of some pretty basic words.
She said, “Oh yes we have. I’ve seen you on Facebook.”
In contemporary usage, “meet” and “see on Facebook” have become synonyms.
This is even more interesting because I don’t even have my own Facebook page. Apparently, she saw me in photographs on someone else’s page, and that still is sufficient for declaring that we’ve met.
And it’s even more interesting because this lady was in her 50’s; she didn’t grow up as part of the social media generation. Rather, she has come to embrace the new definition of things: “to meet” now simply means to know something about someone else, however trite, random, or inconsequential.
Thankfully, we did get to talk a bit, to get to know one another, to meet (in the classical sense); I’m thankful that her knowledge of me isn’t solely based on someone else’s Facebook references to my life.
But I wonder how many interactions ever get to that point. How many “relationships” just remain at the point of meeting (in the contemporary sense)? Face recognition, a few random details about what someone did, the click of a button, and we have completed the modern ritual of making introductions.
Several people have pressured me to get on Facebook, assuring me that it’s the best (only?) way of keeping up with the goings-on in my friends’ lives. But it was a big step for me just to begin blogging. I don’t think I’ve yet got the vocabulary or the paradigm for making the foray into Facebook.
For now, I’ll have to go about making introductions the old-fashioned way…via email.