Facebook – Virtual Dormitory
The Stanford Inn by the Sea is on Facebook – so is our Ravens’ Restaurant. Facebook is an important way to keep interested guests informed about what is happening at the Inn. Trade journals tell us that social media sites are an essential aspect of marketing. And marketing a business is one thing: exposing oneself is another.
Using Facebook troubles us because in a way through our presence we are supporting the concept of virtual social networking. We are plugging into a venue where personal information is shared openly and we are concerned regarding “unintended consequences.”
Through Facebook and other social media more is known about more people than at any time in the history of mankind. We can check each other out – either directly or through a virtual network of “friends”. When we actually meet one another, there are rarely surprises. We know each other: We bring into our “meetings” expectations based on what we’ve learned about one other on social media.
If you went away to college or university and moved into a dormitory, you might remember saying “good-bye” to your family and essentially “good-bye” to your past followed by the “move in”: meeting new people who had no idea who you were. At that time you had an opportunity to totally recreate yourself although you probably didn’t. Rather, like most of us, you asserted who you believed yourself to be: what you intended to major in, where you were raised, went to school, what your parents did, the names of your brothers and sisters, your likes and dislikes, favorite bands and so much more.
All of us regurgitated our pasts, creating expectations of who we were both within the minds of fellow students as well as our own minds. Yet, for the short period identity was in flux, we remained open to self-discovery.
Facebook is misnamed: it is not a book, for once opened, it never can be fully closed. It provides more than a window into our lives – it is a glass house – perhaps a prison of expectation – in which we live.
Expectations control – they are stifling. Spontaneity – arises without expectation. In novel situations we are free to be – where we are not constrained by expectations based on our school, our work, our politics, our favorite movies, books, personalities – by our personal history.
As you post that image of yourself, remember that it is one moment in time that may characterize you for years to come. The concretization of the past on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, even Twitter, makes our pasts inescapable. Like a political candidate whose every action has been recorded, we will not be able to escape the bondage of old beliefs, behaviors, and relationships.
Don Genaro and Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s series on their teachings urged their apprentices to obscure their personal history – not to create a lie about themselves, but to create possibilities.
Remember this as you post. Your lives are not commercial enterprises as the Stanford Inn and The Ravens’.