Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I've Learned on Facebook

I joined Facebook over the summer. It's actually been really kind of a good thing. I've reconnected with a lot of old friends and acquaintances, people I lost track of a long time ago. I've gotten to know people I knew as a kid as grownups, and realized that there are people who I was intimidated by and uncomfortable around who are really lovely and kind people, despite the fact that several of them are vocal and passionate Republicans.

What can I say? Nobody's perfect.

It's been interesting, though, to discover that many people have not grown up to do what I thought they would do, or anything remotely like it, and many others are exactly the same person that they've always been. It's a reminder to me that adulthood is not a destination we arrive at on our 23rd birthday.

There is one person who I have wondered about for many years. I met him my Freshman year of college, and while we were not anything remotely resembling ready for each other at the time, we dated on and off for awhile, and sometimes we were friends with benefits, and throughout it, were able to maintain a friendship based on the fact that we were both smart people who liked to talk to each other and didn't mind each others' propensity to get ourselves and each other into trouble.

Predictably enough, we eventually got into serious trouble together, the kind that requires the assistance of a lawyer to get out of. It scared me mostly straight, and it was incredibly scary and humiliating and it's something I don't really talk about much, so let us just say that it was a bad experience except for the fact that it taught me that I could take responsibility and ownership of, and manage my own problems, even when they seemed unmanageable. The other good thing about it was that somehow, I managed to stay friends with this person, and if anything, we were better friends, bound by the fact that we knew what the other person had gone through.

Eventually, I went back to Michigan, and he went on with his life in Nashville, and we lost touch with each other. I always wondered what had happened to him, though, and what he was like as a grown-up.

Yesterday, I had an email in my inbox. It was a friend request from Facebook, and I was shocked when it turned out that the friend request was from him.

I was, however, not nearly as shocked as I was when I went and looked at his profile and found out who he was as a grownup. This person, who was by far one of the most out-of-control party animals I have ever met, who spent a certain period of his life under the influence of controlled substances more or less around the clock, is a Presbyterian minister.

It's just another thing I've learned on Facebook: there are virtual black holes of mystery inside everyone, even the people you think you know. I found that out a year and a half ago, when my best friend, who'd always been...wary at best, I would say, about children, decided to have a baby. I learned it all over again when I realized that this wasn't an elaborate hoax on his part.

I used to think that not much surprised me anymore. I've since realized that I was wrong. People generally shock the hell out of me.


Erika Jean said...

It's true, you do learn a lot about people from facebook - i never thought about it like that before. Being a recent college graduate, I'm seeing everyone changing rather than already changed. I swear everyone from my high school is currently pregnant.

cici said...

I agree with you. Folks can up and change on you...let's just hope it's not like one extreme for another.

Kimberly said...

Okay, that's a shocker. I know who you're talking about and minister is the last-- the very last-- career I'd have pegged him for.