Thursday, December 10, 2009

Putting a Face on the Web of Life

"One could not pluck a flower without troubling a star." Loren Eisely

After a little more than a month as an official Face on Facebook, my catalog lists 72 Friends. I was inspired to join in the game, when one of my friends made a surprise move to New York City (Hi Tom!). I could not resist finding out more via his profile. Of course, I could have asked him through e-mail, which I did, or even a phone call...but Facebook is where he now likes to post his amazing photographs. Plus, I decided that I really needed to find out exactly what has been consuming so many hours of my high school aged daughter's time!

In the world of Facebook, we are privileged to see all the other conversations and connections that friends have in this unique digital galaxy, which is a miniscule fraction of anyone's social life...hopefully! But it got me thinking about how this cyberweb expresses the full Web of Life in a newish way, making visible a series of connections that we would otherwise be unaware of. That "six degrees of separation" thing. The coolest thing about Facebook, to me, is that it shows how we are connected between friends, as well as who has accepted our personal invitations. (I had to cajole my husband into accepting my Facebook invitation...but fortunately, we carry on most of our friendship off-line!) Which leads me to ponder, if all my friends, Facebook and otherwise, and all of their friends, and all of the friends of friends' friends were to accept invitations from one another, how many faces would be on all of our Facebooks?

At present, only one of my Facebook pals crosses over between the worlds in my orbit, two of which are Yosemite, CA and Crested Butte, CO. (Hi Elizabeth!). And another Face, whom I have never met in person, is now a new friend in the Darrow family circle (Hi Barbara!). Only eight of my Facebook comrades are of the "long lost" type whom I hadn't communicated with in some way for more than a year. Out of all 72, I can see that only about a handful regularly communicate through Facebook, logging some sort of thought, photo or announcement almost daily (Hi Dawne! Maya! Erin! Nancy! Carla!) Surprisingly, my daughter isn't one of these. She actually spends all that time in her bedroom studying. (Hi Brooke!)

Some people consider Facebook and other cyber-social networks to be a form of "stalking" and "voyeurism," and perhaps use it that way, but I find it to be more benign and quite fascinating in some ways. Sort of cosmic, really. All these WiFi and cable connections might just be a step between the more tangible connections we make when speaking to one another or exchanging actual handwritten letters (Ah! the Good Old Days!) and full blown conscious telepathy. Like those times when the phone rings, or the e-mail dings, and it's exactly the person you intended to contact at the very same moment. This sort of thinking should remind us all to be careful of our thoughts, for they are, indeed, received by others at some level, no matter how well we wish to conceal them, whether benevolent or critical.

Our thoughts, our writing, our deeds and our Facebook posts are like a stone in the pond, the flower and the star, the fly on a spider's web. My dream is that we will eventually go beyond these digital and telepathic connections between people to consciously realizing and fully appreciating our connections with all other living and non-living things.

May your ripples be gentle, your stars be bright and warm, your web strong and flexible.


Belladonna said...

Hey Kat;

That closing line is a gem. I appreciate your thoughts about FB. I've backed off from it a lot since I am now using more of my online time to design next term's Blackboard class but, like you, I do appreciate seeing how friends from the various compartments of my life sometimes intersect. Someone I worked with at BMCC in Pendleton, OR actually went to High School with our cousin Teresa H. back in AZ years ago. Who knew?

Amber said...

Great thoughts. Sometimes I feel a little broken because electronic communication seems to come easier to me than face to face. Especially when I read so much about it being not so genuine. But it definitely is something to keep me connected. And that is good.