I want you to post here how Facebook ruined your life. You see, my friend Tina (as in "Roger Williams In America" and "The Wind From My Head" in Real Punks Don't Wear Black) started a Facebook group last week called Campus Restaurant Revisited which she's been pressuring me to join. The thing is, I'm not on Facebook, since I don't want yet another social network hijacking my time. The Internet can suck the life out of you, another social network would squeeze me dry, and I'm not nearly caught up with the stuff I need to be doing anyway, etc. These days, a lot of people go to restaurants and coffeeshops so that they can bring their laptops and get the WiFi. Whereas, when I go to these places it's to get away from the 'Net. But...
It was like my little hometown had created its very own East Village* within the four walls of a cruddy downstairs eatery. This was in the Sixties, early Seventies. When the freaks were cutting school, that's where they went, and I get the feeling that for a lot of them that was their emotional home when what was happening in their nuclear family wasn't working for them. Like the East Village, the scene facilitated fucked-up behavior too, amid all the vast creativity, and you can be clingy and neurotic in your adopted families as much as in your real ones; but the freaks being so numerous and charismatic, they cracked open the social map of my entire high school. Wherever you were on the map, you never could settle into a place, because the places kept shifting. This could be rough on some people and it was rough on me, but it worked well for me too, in that it ensured I could never be smug, so it helped to create my brain. And for some kids it created space to flourish they'd never have had in a more steady setting. It also helped there to be a whole lot of interesting people in my world, wherever they found themselves, whether they were the freaks or not at all close to the freaks.
I wasn't one of the freaks; I was more a liberal veering into I don't know where. Didn't go into the Campus Restaurant much, basically 'cause I didn't know if I'd be welcome, though my guess now is that of course I'd have been. A year after I graduated I was back visiting town and I went to meet Tina at the Campus Restaurant, and after the two of us were done talking I saw my ex-friend and ex-nemesis Jeff (see "Junior High" and "Death Rock 2000" in Real Punks) and we had a really good talk, though what I mostly remember from it was that he was being self-derogatory in a way that I hadn't remembered him back when we'd been close; and it didn't dawn on me to see if it was safe to ask him the questions that I really wanted to ask. At one point when I was a senior I remember Maureen saying to me and Jay that Jeff was just a slug, and we gaped at her. Like, didn't she understand? This was JEFF KINNARD! He'd been to social life at Storrs Grammar School what James Brown was to soul. So the question I didn't even think to ask was what happened, how'd he change so that he'd be willing to give the impression to the beautiful Maureen Nolan that he was a slug? Why?
Anyway, Tina has sent me a PDF file of some of the posts from the group. I didn't see anything from Jeff there, though Peter Fish posted a photo of Jeff standing next to Mr. Pride, the art teacher. Most of the people posting I hadn't really known, and a lot of the names I don't recognize. But Tina is there, Tansy Mattingly is there, Steve Nesselroth is there, Tim Page is there, Larry Groff is there, Francesca Holinko is there.
( hemming and hawing and the need for a discussion of social classCollapse )
So. Tell me about Facebook. Can I avoid friending people, and avoid getting them to friend me? Is it easy to ignore, if, like me, you're fundamentally compulsive and have no OFF switch?
*If I were ever to start one of these groups, it'd be "Strand Book Store, 1977-1980."