Tag Archives: facebook






re·cord  (ri-ˈkȯrd;  for  n.  &  adj., ˈre-kərd also -ˌkȯrd ),  v.t.  [ME. recorden; OFr. recorder; L. recordari, to call to mind, remember  < re-, again + cor, cordis, heart, mind],  1.  to set down, as in writing; preserve an account of: as, record the day’s events.  2.  to register in some permanent form, as on a graph or chart, an indication of (a motion or event) as it occurs: as, a seismograph records earthquakes.  3.  to serve as evidence of; tell of: as, the marks on the house record the height of the flood waters.  4.  a) to transform (sound) by electrical or mechanical means and register it in some permanent form, as the grooved track of a phonograph record, the magnetization of fine wire, etc. so that it can be reproduced at will by a reverse process.  b)  to register thus the performance of (a singer, orchestra, piece of music, etc).  5.  to show; indicate.  6.  to set down or have set down in a register: as, record a vote.  v.i.  1.  to record something.  2.  to admit of being recorded.  n.  [ME.; OFr.  <  the v.i]1.  a recording or being recorded; preservation in or as in writing.  2.  anything that is written down and preserved as evidence; account of events; anything that serves as evidence of an event, etc.  3.  anything that the written evidence is put on or in, as a register, monument, etc.  4.  an official written report of public proceedings, as in a legislature or court of law; documents preserved as evidence of proceedings, as of court.  5.  the known or recorded facts about anything, as about conduct, performance, one’s career, etc.  6.  a flat disk, cylinder, paper roll, etc. on which sound has been recorded.  7.  the best performance as the highest speed, greatest amount, highest rate, etc., reached and publicly recorded  adj.  making a record; being the largest, fastest, etc. of its kind: as, a record audience, record crop. Abbreviated rec.





As the marks on a house record the height of the flood waters, as the grooved track of a phonograph record




Facebook is a continuous looping record. In one convenient space, the site culls together notes and images about our lives, or rather the pieces of our lives we choose to acknowledge and honor. If we could print it out like ticker tape, there our life would be: photos of parties with friends, new love, graduations, jobs, promotions, holidays, our smiling glittering sparkly faces. Our status updates could be read aloud, providing a sort of voiceover featuring our own voice. How easy it would be to parse through this record and collate it in a binder. The table of contents categorized according to biographical data, friendship, love, career. Only we would know how far it is from the truth.


Except for those folks who tip the balance strongly in the venting category: regularly acknowledging their sadness or anger, most of us hold back our hurts on facebook. I’m not talking about annoyances at the grocery store or anger at issues of social injustice: I’m talking about pain. We don’t want to burden others or we don’t want others to perceive us as having moments of weakness, sadness, and deep hurt (read: being human). So instead, we do the same thing to our image that we criticize advertisers for doing. We photoshop our lives. We crop. We blur. We dodge. We burn. We create a record of a life that we can be proud of.


There’s one problem with this. Our record is not real. As we shape ourselves, we deny parts of ourselves. And in not allowing people to see us in our full humanity, we don’t allow ourselves to be fully “like”d or loved. And we are all worthy of being loved not in spite of but because of our beautiful, flawed human selves.


There is danger in this limited perspective. As we spend more and more time socializing in these spheres presenting our constructed selves, we have less and less opportunity to connect with others and meet each another as we really are. We try to meet our needs for comfort and security in an artificial and inadequate space to meet these needs.

This blurring of the whole picture can happen in our real lives too. Even when I am in prolonged struggle, most people would not know this, sometimes not even dear friends. I don’t always show I’m having a hard time, but that doesn’t mean that I am not having a hard time.


I’m not suggesting codependency or suddenly flooding everyone we know with our deepest fears. I’m suggesting that we honestly let ourselves be seen, that we show up and allow others to show themselves to us in all their complexity. This kind of vulnerability can be challenging to bear on both ends. When we share, we face our deepest fears of rejection and defectiveness. When we listen, others’ vulnerability can remind us of our own in a way that may make us tempted to turn away.


Mindfulness has permeated all aspects of our culture these days. I recently read on The Huffington Post that 2014 is “The Year of Mindfulness.” Elementary schools have integrated it as a practice for kids to calm themselves. CEOs are meeting with mindfulness leaders for their own lives and to integrate it into business practices. The Seattle Seahawks announced after their recent Superbowl win that mindfulness meditation is part of their training regimen. I think the omnipresence of mindfulness talk now is in direct proportion to our need for it. In our high speed world, people need to learn how to sit and be with themselves. Mindfulness has so many benefits. Sitting and breathing and observing seems so simple so it can be misinterpreted as easy. However, it takes tremendous courage to show up and be present. It is brave to be with ourselves.


The other night, I watched an unexpected gem of a movie called Safety Not Guaranteed. The premise of the movie is largely unimportant to the undercurrents of the film but it is this: a journalist and two interns go to research a guy who has posted an advertisement asking for a partner to travel back in time with him. Experience with weapons is needed and safety is not guaranteed. You enter the film thinking it will show a humorous encounter in which these “normal” characters meet an “eccentric” character and the drama that ensues. But the film is really about intimacy: how each of these characters desperately wants to connect to someone and how they try and fail and sometimes succeed in this kind of connection. They gain faith and lose it and then gain it again. The opening that is required is risky. The staying, when all they want to do is go, is sometimes impossible. We observe them in the time between the desire to leap and the leaping itself.


I was in an improvisational dance workshop at the beginning of the new year and four rules were set up at the start as guidelines and gauges: Show Up; Pay Attention; Be Honest; Be Open to What Happens Next. I keep thinking about how simple these rules are about the process of being alive. And about how simple they are. Yet how everything in me resists these simple guidelines sometimes. Particularly the last one, being open to what happens next. Because that part, that what-happens-next part, is the part we have absolutely no control of. It’s why showing up and paying attention is threatening. We can have control over tuning out or remaining absent, even how honest we want to be with ourselves or others. But what happens next? The outcome? That is never ever in our control. The part that is in our control is the opening.


For the record, right now I am sitting at my desk (where I am trying to write now, I always end up on the couch) and as I type I am watching a cactus wren climb the dead branches outside. I know he is a cactus wren because of the white and black polka dot plumage on his back and the way he is poking his beak into the wood of the tree. Cactus wrens have never ceased to be exotic to me even though I have lived in the desert for six years.


I was talking with a friend last week about how I wish facebook had an “honesty button.” So you see someone’s status update about their promotion or the best night of their life and when you press the honesty button, a new window appears which says “I am also so afraid of getting older that I just spent the last forty-five minutes researching anti-aging creams” or “I’m worried I’ll never find meaningful work” or “My marriage is falling apart” or “I’m scared I’m a terrible mother” or “I’m worried I’ll never find love.” Next to the album of family holiday photos is an honesty button: “This perfect image was taken ten minutes after my eighteen-month-old threw up and my three-year-old threw himself on the floor in a tantrum when I was functioning on a few hours sleep.” I’m not asking for every vulnerability, just a little equilibrium. You know, for the record.


There are two of them now, the cactus wrens, and they are hopping up a long tree limb that hangs over the neighbors’ little wooden awning. One of them is hanging upside down as he pecks. I read on the Internet that cactus wrens form strong pair bonds, lifelong bonds, and defend their territory together.


I was on a walk with my dog this week when I heard the aggressive chirp of a hummingbird and looked up to see a gray bird with a green iridescent throat flying, suspended in air between the tree branches. Next, I saw the bird lean over, something in its beak. It took a second to register what was happening. Another tiny orange beak peaking out of a brown nest. A tiny bird being fed. I know these moments are happening all the time, but I was paying attention for this one.


My students are writing advice columns in which they use their own heartbreaks and moments of truth to advise others; I read them and think of how much wisdom they have already, at 18, 19. Last night, I went to a reading where one poet read poems about falling in love, accidentally, with their best friend several times. Another poet read about love and grief and loss and wild things. And on the patio, a woman pulled a bow across a violin making the strings scrape, a dissonant beautiful twinge. A man moved his hand towards and away from the radio and suddenly there was the piercing vertical rise and fall of a transmitter. We were all huddled in the courtyard listening.


Carl Sagan said, “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” Vastness and uncertainty is the raw material we have to work with. I believe we can bear the uncertainty if we bear it together. We can let go of what we think of ourselves and allow ourselves to come into being. We can make a record that is closer to what’s true and invite others to do the same.

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poly·sty·rene /ˌpäliˈstīrēn/ n: a rigid transparent nonconducting thermoplastic used esp. in molded products and foam.

Yesterday, a status update went viral on facebook. People began posting and reposting the quote that was attributed in its entirety to Martin Luther King.

This quote was:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

The message was posted in response to the United State’s killing of Osama Bin Laden on Sunday and was posted by numerous facebook users, of which I was one. By yesterday evening, articles began springing up pointing out the inaccuracy of the quote. The Atlantic had an article entitled “Out of Osama’s Death, a Fake Quotation is Born.”This headline is inaccurate. The quote wasn’t a fake, a fraud, made up. A part of it, less than a third, was misattributed.

The first sentence of this quote was not written or said by Martin Luther King, Jr., but the rest of it was. Okay, I thought, we all have a little egg on our face. We should make sure we have researched the quote before posting, but it is the solidarity of that message, the need to speak to that sentiment of love and of nonviolence after this violent act that counts, right? Apparently, wrong.

More articles emerged talking about the “fake quotation” and how immediately it went viral without people checking their facts. (I won’t even go into the fact that this is a facebook status message, not an investigative report.)

This kind of focusing on the minor detail in lieu of the whole, the attempt to find the piece that invalidates the whole message is what I detest most about news networks like Fox News, who spread information completely skewed and out of context to masses who are genuinely and earnestly seeking information. It reeks of that “Gotcha” mentality. Look what we found, look at this detail and how silly, how stupid, how wrong this sentiment, this speech, this movement, this entire group of people is. Taking this first sentence that was misattributed and blowing it out of proportion makes us lose sight of what was really happening here. Individual people were taking action, were responding in a way that was in opposition to the jubilant celebration of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Here is what I take from the status updates of yesterday. People who posted were trying to call on a bit of solemnity in relationship to the killing of a man by our country. People who posted felt conflicted about the act of violence that occurred when the U.S. took the life of Osama Bin Laden. Even if he was a person who was responsible for the needless death of thousands of innocents, he was also a human being. Our act of murdering him was returning hate with hate, violence with violence. People who posted felt conflicted about and embarrassed by the drunken St. Patrick’s Day style celebrating and jubilation that they witnessed after seeing images of our fellow Americans thumping their chests and screaming “USA,” holding American flags and hanging out of trees. Maybe they, like me, had a hard time reconciling that sort of response to a man’s death, even if it was the death of a man who had caused such tragedy and suffering to our community. In status updates that their friends posted, these facebook status posters found a sense of solidarity, of community and of compassion in the midst of a situation they were wrestling to understand and make sense of a personal level. They were looking to the words of one of our greatest leaders of nonviolent social change. They were seeking to model him. They were trying to think about what creative problem solving we might employ to be a country that engages in peaceful diplomacy, that attempts to find ways to better understand others in the world so that this kind of violence is not necessary.

By posting the words of MLK and by what I write here, I am not saying I don’t understand the ways in which this feels like necessary closure to those Americans who lost family and friends in the attacks and even to those who didn’t. We, as a country, were all affected in a major way by 9/11. I grieve with my fellow Americans for the losses we suffered, and I understand how this event can feel like a satisfying resolution. What I am saying is that our response involved more violence, involved stoking the fire of hatred, and I am not at ease with that. (Furthermore, I don’t believe that this act will resolve our problems with al Qaeda nor cause them to disengage and desist. I think it might exacerbate it all. But this is not my focus here. My focus is this one status update, this one response.)

I think its important to recognize that what a large group of people felt called to do yesterday, in the wake of the death of Bin Laden, was to think of major leaders of the nonviolent movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr., like Gandhi, like Dorothy Day. People that said: No. No matter what the violence. No matter what the mistreatment. We will, in fact, conquer, but we will work as a peaceful people.

For me what makes the United States great is not the times we use force but the times we use creative thinking and diplomacy to relate to other people and to get the outcomes we need.

And I don’t want to sit by while the fine line is scrutinized, while these statuses are viewed as unfortunate and inaccurate. The sentiment embedded in the quote was there. These facebook users wanted to suggest and seek out the ways in which we can add lightness to the dark, the ways in which we can drive out hatred with the power of our love. And that is what is important in this: the amount of people that message resonated with. Not that the first sentence of it didn’t come out of the mouth of Martin Luther King, Jr.


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