A year ago, I deactivated my Facebook account.
And now, looking back, I regret that.
Having a job as a company spokesman, something already essentially public, I wanted more privacy in my life. Meanwhile, my wife has understandable reservations about having an online presence, and I certainly know my daughters well enough not to try to friend them, and people from the present were already present.
It was the people from the past who haunted me.
In high school, I admired from afar a smart and funny classmate who was rebellious and outspoken and cool – all the things I was not – and I happened to friend her a few years ago in one of those early round-robins of mass friendings among high school acquaintances of a certain age who all suddenly discovered Facebook.
In the days before Facebook, no one in my circle knew what had become of her, and exotic rumors swirled. When instead I found her, still smart and funny, and living, non-exotically, many miles away… that was one thing. But then when she posted – not to me, just to the world in general - about coming back to New Jersey for a visit, and that she would be visiting a restaurant a block from where I worked, I thought I should try to say hello.
But I never did. I didn’t know how, exactly, without seeming like a stalker. Or what I would say to her after hello. Technology – which had provided the means to connect – had never anticipated all the ramifications of random resurrections from the past. So I quit. What was the use, I wondered?
And now I’m back. A year later, I see that there is use - and wisdom - in trusting in people without any instruction manual.
It seems to me that things just get more complicated - with or without technology - with the passage of time. So why not simply try to figure it all out with some help?
Besides, all this longing for connection and meaning and self-expression points to something deep in all of us that cannot, for any extended period of time, be denied or hidden… or deactivated.