Category Archives: public education

LIFE…..on Facebook.

 

I’d crawled out of bed, after sleeping long enough to face another day.
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Following twenty five consecutive years of hitting the ground running and crashing after midnight this had, for the past six or so since early retirement, become the new normal – and, far closer to “normal” than its previous incarnation.
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Yet, on that particular morning sometime last month I’d padded over to the laptop to log in –  and, a startling announcement appeared.
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It was Facebook.
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They were posting to say “Congratulations!”
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I’d been on the site for ten years.
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It only took that moment. I stopped breathing and sat, motionless. My eyes went into my head. Searching, almost frantic. Ten years. A whole, God forsaken decade of……what?
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And so, in some pathetic attempt at justification, I began to catalog those ten years.
Herewith, the results of one, peculiar life on social media.
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1.) OLD FRIENDS.
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I’d never been a very good friend. At least, not the kind one learned about in first grade. I’d not been particularly friendly. I didn’t do things for other people. I wasn’t thoughtful. Oh, I was full of plenty of thought – just, not the kind which included other people unless one could count mulling over why boys farted for fun and girls laughed at other girls, categorically speaking.
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And, I wasn’t naturally social. Friends, to me, were best selected one at a time, and I chose the kind who had the patience to listen to my unending prattle. The Apple Jacks Club comes to mind. Held at my house, on my turf, complete with instructions on where to sit and what to do next, I can recall only two meetings before the whole thing was suspended indefinitely (with tears, and mum’s irritated declarations). Or, I picked the loner, the one for whom nobody else seemed to have any interest or time. Was this instinct? I prefer to think it just selfishness. Or, maybe I’m just depressed today.
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But, dejected or hopeful, I had to admit: Facebook had put me in touch with: a.) scores of former classmates, teachers, and colleagues; b.) dozens of relatives, scattered across the country; c.) those from the old church fellowship, also living in just about every state in the union and, best of all d.) a still vastly incomplete list from among the four.thousand.former students. In total, having been careful to accept the connection of only those known personally to me (or, to those known to those), I had amassed, to date, over thirteen hundred “Friends.”
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2.) NEW FRIENDS.
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Remarkable, however, were the number of new friends. These were those known to others, who would join a conversation thread. Many a long, healthy debate would ensue, the same enjoyed to this day. In fact, several have become confidantes, one or two especially so. (Interestingly, these have proved the most loyal, as well.)
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And, this is true of every Facebook addict. Oh, yes. We are.
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But, beyond the obvious dependency, there is something else.
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3.) PUBLIC IMAGE.
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Whether any of us realize it or not, the most transparent among us are become subject to a rather insidious force.
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Because, by its design, all members being encouraged to post, like, and comment, the most vulnerable are exposed. Bare.
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I’m talking about those of us who, whether by nature or intent, have no filter.
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Maybe it’s because of being deeply committed to the truth, our own truth, and the truth as it is capable of being apprehended. Granted, there have been times when I have spoken merely from belief, rather than fact; and, ready and waiting, there has always been somebody quick to correct me.
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But, over time, this kind of interaction has chipped away at something. And, that something is rather critical to human perception of human relationship. I think that, without having been able to predict it, we have subjected ourselves to public scrutiny. We have been silently assessed, even judged. And, those of us who have said too many unsettling things, alarming things, or just said them too often, have also been silently rejected.
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In short, the image we have portrayed in print has become the essence of our alleged character. There is a Scripture: “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” But, is what we say in print, minus any tone or inflection, not profoundly subject to the interpreter’s own, inherent biases?
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I used to write Letters to the Editor. But, our local newspaper was bought out by some conglomerate, the new panel of editors also bought by those intent upon monopolizing public perception of relative value and I cancelled my subscription. Left without that vital vehicle, with all my unfiltered flaws there has been only one intent on my part, that of using Facebook to play the role of public protector. And, I know exactly what has motivated this.
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But, those who prefer to live in denial may have been offput by one too many words of warning. And, a smaller subset of readers might have concluded that I am just a completely unpleasant person.
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In person.
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Am I?
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Apart from the bad breath, thank you to the boyfriend for so thoughtfully pointing this out, am I really the world’s most rejectable creature?
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Just how much has Facebook contributed to self – perception?
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How many suicides have taken place, predicated by preambles on…..Facebook?
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I mean it. Let’s get off.
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Can we remember the week we sent the laptop in for an overhaul? I can. I think I stocked the entire larder and cleaned the whole house. I might have even spent time with actual, live, in person humans.
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Maybe it’s just because I am a writer. Perhaps this propensity carries an inordinate, uncommon desire to say it all on virtual paper. But, do take this as my closing warning, and accept it from somebody who really doesn’t want anybody to be rejected in person for any reason: pick up the phone, and call somebody. Get out of the house, and go do something just because, today, it isn’t burning fire or freezing snow.
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If we don’t, another decade might pass, and we might not live to see anything else but the next Facebook post.
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© 12/3/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Please visit littlebarefeetblog.com, when you have nothing else to do. And, thanks.

The Sixth Decade.

 

White hair speaks for itself.

Would I have remembered her, had she thinning salt and pepper strands enhancing facial lines and furrows?

Maybe it was her height, barely five feet two. Her carriage quick, like a bird.

But, the keynote speaker at Fredonia State University’s May 1982 commencement exercises was impossible to dismiss.

I cannot name a single one of the multiple degrees she carried behind her name, nor title of authored paper or book. Even her name escapes me.

But, what I cannot forget was the fact that she had earned the first of those college diplomas at age 60.

This remarkable life, for all intents and purposes begun in the sixth decade, had been a firebrand of motivation, determination, persistence, and resolve. And, twenty plus years hence, she was still at it.

What’s interesting to note is that I carry no recollection of anything she did prior. The woman herself might credit the sum of those first five decades as molding and shaping; but, what really set her apart was that time, and social expectation, even the power hierarchy, had no deterring role whatsoever.

Perhaps she’d approached the age of 55 in quiet contemplation. Perhaps a beloved spouse had departed the earth; maybe an inheritance bestowed. Whatever the impetus, she’d set about to do, and followed a plan to repeated completion.

Granted, our society still reveres the paper credential. But, no matter. Expanding the mind, digging deeply into those integrated circuits which can only connect with age, unearthing gems of time borne wisdom and then giving them away like birthday presents this single female, now 83, was traveling the country as a motivational speaker for entire classes of graduating university students.

And, she spoke to me.

I had entered Fredonia right out of high school, on a visual art scholarship. Two years hence, withdrawing to transfer to an esteemed art institute, insufficient funds and the recession of the 1970s prevented my enrollment and I remained at home, securing a summer job and opening a savings account. By the fall of the second year of work, I had saved enough to return to school, switch my major, and earn the Bachelor of Music in Music Education.

But, at least three years older than my undergraduate contemporaries, I was a ripe twenty five. Only one other music major could claim this kind of seniority: my boyfriend. But, he’d already moved on, several months prior to the ceremony.

So, for about twenty minutes, from the podium at King Concert Hall, this white haired woman embodied me. As we all sat, capped and robed, she made her mark on my mind and heart.

And, I would not know it until now.

Now, in the sixty first year of my own life.

Perhaps you are one of the special minority of those whose hair has whitened well before middle age. Enjoy your singular beauty. But, for me and the rest of my greying generation, we have the privilege of returning to our self starting childhood, before the agenda of opportunism and exploitation began sniffing around our necks and long before we ever felt the crush of competition and its inevitable corruptions. We need acquire nothing; we still have what it takes. The means has reached its end. We can own our moment.

Mine won’t likely be white for awhile.

But, every hair is numbered. And, each strand as it appears inspires a deep, rich, and nourishing breath.

Time to take the next one!

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© 11/11/18    Ruth Ann Scanzillo   All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material, especially when it comes from an old person.

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