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Facebook Friends or Foes

Southern portal and eastern (downstream) side of the Monroe County Bridge 114, which carries Friendship Road over Stephens Creek (a Salt Creek tributary) east of Bloomington in Salt Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana, United States. It was built in 1898.
Southern portal and eastern (downstream) side of the Monroe County Bridge 114, which carries Friendship Road over Stephens Creek (a Salt Creek tributary) east of Bloomington in Salt Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana, United States. It was built in 1898.

How do you know that someone has changed or not changed?

It may sound like a vague question, but I’m serious.  It all came up on Facebook.  One old friend asked another old friend if, since we were once again local to each other, half way across the country from where we grew up, if we ever hung out.  We had, once.  And while I’d extended several other invitations, all of them were shot down (although kindly).  And that reminded me of how our childhood friendship had ended (years and years before Facebook existed).  I had called this friend to hang out, and she told me that she thought I was “too weird” and she didn’t want to hang out anymore.  A crushing blow to a sixth grader.  Now, not so crushing, but another reason to think people are too judgmental of other’s choices in life.  This friend now seems rather “weird” herself in some ways.  But, hey, isn’t our own personal weirdness what makes us unique and fun?

But there’s still a little of that sixth grader in me, and I wonder, has this friend really become as enlightened as she seems?  Or is she still the same girl who was cruel to me all those years ago?  Do people really change?

I have one other Facebook friend I wonder this about.  She also blew me off oh-so-many years ago.  I learned where I ranked in her hierarchy of friends – as long as I was helpful, she wanted me around.  Beyond that, I was Queen in the Land of Blow-Off Land, and she would deign to shower me with her presence only when it was convenient to her.  But I still accepted her friend request on FB because somehow I still cared.  So has she changed?  Does she actually care about me and my life?

I have no idea.  I can’t answer these questions.  I’ve already culled the people who weren’t ever truly friends with me or who hadn’t changed from the pettiness of grade and high school, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

At the same time, I’ve been happy to rekindle some friendships – people who just fell out of my life for one reason or another: moving, changing schools, bad scheduling.  And there are other people I’d like to find and “friend.”  But what if those people have changed for the worst and would disappoint me?

So how to tell who’s a FB friend or foe?

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“I guess this is growing up…”

My youngest nephew just turned 19. He’s off at college. He’s had 2 jobs, neither of which lasted very long, and he seems to me to be rather unprepared for responsibilities and the real world. But he’s not alone. The more teenagers I meet, the more I realize how growing up has changed.

At the age of 19, I’d been out of high school for 2 years, having dropped out at 17 and gotten my GED before the rest of my class had graduated. I was working a full-time job and paying for my own car and insurance. I was still living at home but only because I couldn’t afford an apartment at NJ prices, but I was engaged and planning on moving out.

So, yeah that was a whole bunch of years ago, I have to admit. And times have changed.

But what’s made them change?
Is it helicopter parents?
My own change in socio-economic status that college a norm for teenagers?
The part of the country I’m living in?
Or is it a legitimate change across the board?

Are we not requiring the right things from our children?
Are we not allowing them to mature?
Are we taking away their sense of responsibility and replacing it with a sense of entitlement?

Lots of questions, and not many answers. But I do wonder if even just the little changes are having big effects. (No mention of the butterfly effect, I promise. Damn! There it was!)  For example, at my son’s school, kids aren’t just dismissed willy nilly like when I was a kindergartner, forgotten on the steps because the bell rang and my sister walked home without me. No, today kids have to be picked up. Parents wait in massive lines, creeping up in their cars, ready with their yellow taxi hang tags that announce their child’s name and grade. Even children who are walking home have to have a parent show up with a photocopied shoe to prove they can walk home.   Everyone gets awards for something. No one loses at Little League.

But that’s okay. Because in the front hall of the school is a fine selection of pamphlets that give great advice on studying, learning disabilities, and how everyone can be smart in their own way. And we took three of those pamphlets, wrapped them up, and mailed them to our nephew. And nestled in one of them is a note. And that note says that if he finds the note and emails us, he can have $20. So let’s see if he’s “responsible” enough to read them.