Some Thoughts about Facebook…

There are few people more skeptical of technology than I. Despite claims by computer and cellphone manufacturers that we are more “connected” than ever before, I remain suspicious that we can too easily become delusional over the ease of using the polyester substitute for language through text messaging and the quick but impersonal forwarding of gang mail increasingly and insensitively. I am indeed a critic of an electronic civilization that seems to have been designed like a very fast sports car without seatbelts or brakes.

However, perhaps beyond any possible explanation, I have become an advocate of Facebook for the positive effects I have enjoyed there. Though there have been myriad complaints about lack of privacy, as well as about legal issues such as copyrights, I find on Facebook an enormous jigsaw puzzle of human interest, regarding any number of subjects from grandchildren to the best recipes for pumpkin pie. Because we get to choose our “friends,” there is on some level a shared scope of memory and values, even though we can also disagree and debate on any subject we choose mutually.

Sometimes Facebook becomes a large book of condolences over occasional hard times affecting individual members or groups, or tender consolation over the loss of loved ones, and in the honoring of those who have left us. There are photos of friends and relatives, pets, gardens, vacations, and comic situations that remind us that we are all prone to predicaments from time to time, as in having an uncle, who gets drunk at the family Christmas gathering, or having a pot of cooking rice boil over onto the kitchen floor. Those little incidents of daily life begin to form a huge mandala of the human situation in its inspiring, annoying, breathtaking, silly, loving, beautiful panorama of who we are as a species from day to day.

For me Facebook has been a place of happy reunions with many former students from the past forty-five years and a place for reconnections with lost friends and acquaintances with whom I have shared parts of my life but from whom I have been separated by circumstances of geographic relocation or occasionally frantic transformation of situation or revelation. At any rate, Facebook, in some extraordinary, inexplicable way, seems to provide some sort of anchor in our collective journey through the seasons of life, including those signposts about everything from birth to the grave, and if one has chosen well his or her friends, there will be a sympathetic bond that transcends electronics and the otherwise often impersonal or virtual world we have created through technology. That irony can give us hope.   JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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