Who could have predicted how Facebook would change the world, connect the planet, and bridge the gaps of creed, culture, and civilization?
To places far away, with faces missed in many ways, to friends of years gone by, with new ones who make us laugh and cry.
In many respects, we live on the fringes of our lives. Connected by this thing called social media, it consumes us with obsessive chatting tendencies and force-feeds us images that whet the appetite of our fanatical postings.
On the surface, it all seems impersonal. Lovers are forgoing handholding over a romantic meal, to IM each other from inches away.
Partygoers are squinting, squatting, and smiling in their group photo sessions. Sessions that resemble fencing competitions in a faceoff frenzy of selfie-sticks gone wild. With updates and uploads one-upping our political debates. With boisterous reunions and witty timeline inclusions abound.
Free to roam around the world from the comfort of our couches, beds, and toilets. Via our phones, tablets, and laptops, we travel to places we never heard of with people we've never met.
We measure our popularity by the number of likes and friends we amass while sharing our innermost secrets with total strangers, embellished by colorful emojis and dancing gifs.
Just about the time you begin to ask yourself, what happened to the world we once knew? Whatever happened to real face time? Whatever happened to two people sitting side-by-side in the same two square inches, without an apple program that tracked your every move?
Just when you’re about to throw your hands up at the technology that has depersonalized our existence, you are profoundly affected.
By someone who lives thousands of miles away, who is nothing like you, who may be everything you thought you wanted to be, who may be nothing you ever wanted to be, who may be in the prime of their life or the fight of their life.
And through this thing, this virtual world we compulsively cling to, we cross paths with fated encounters that can change the course of our lives, change who we are, change who we love, change how we love, change how we see this crazy world, change us forever.
A lingual metamorphose is in the works as the world’s continents swap colloquialisms in a jargon-infused interchange of regional slang. Californian’s calling their buddies, “mate,” while Aussie’s call out, "hey dude," in the throws of their localized friendly banter? Are the slang words we call our own, up for international grabs?
In one such Facebook encounter, through my author network of friends, I was randomly connected to a gal in the UK who is currently in the fight of her life with brain cancer. She is young and vibrant and happy and brave. In the face of biopsies and surgeries and chemo and radiation and pain, she lives each day to the fullest. Eating her favorite foods, seeing her favorite people, loving her amazingly supportive family, working out with her favorite trainer, traveling to her favorite places, and posting the images of her journey for all to see.
This gal is a-eat-with-a-fork-and-knife-and-sounds-like-she-lives-in-Buckingham Palace-Brit. She now calls me by my American slang, “Hi, buddy.”
I’m a cawfee-and-OMGawd-verbally rehabilitated-ex-New Yorker-living-in-California American. I now call her by her British slang, “Hi, mate.”
Every day, her Facebook posts are golden nuggets of courage wrapped around a common British saying. I keep meaning to write them all down, but I get sidetracked by some other post from some other friend in some other country, far away.
When all is said and done, despite my failing short-term memory amidst an onslaught of daily hot flashes, one such British phrase stays with me.
In honor of my new mate (Aussie word), I'll express my chuff (that means joy in the UK) by saying, this Facebook thing isn't so bad after all, in fact in the words of my courageous British mate, It Takes Me Off My Nut.