Oh, Facebook — I love it and hate it.
I do check the thing regularly, counting on it to help me feel connected to the people in my life and the world at large. I love reading my friends' funny observations, and I often enjoy the articles they post. I appreciate the invite to be a voyeur that is the posting of pictures.
There are some things that make me bitter and envious. Usually — to be honest — this has to do with announcements related to book deals or other writerly successes, particularly in cases where I think someone's ambition outpaces his or her desire to communicate something important and true.
But sometimes what causes my blood to curdle has nothing to do with professional stuff — it's personal. I'm talking about the manner in which certain people communicate the change in their relationship status.
For instance, a woman I usually quite like recently posted perhaps the most annoying update of all: "I can't believe I'm smiling down at the pretty new ring on my finger..."
And I can't believe I just kicked her in the shins! Which I hope wiped the smile right off her face! As if it weren't bad enough that she was having success in a relationship, whereas I never do. Add to that the coyness! The 765 nearly identical gurgling congratulatory responses! All the exclamation points!!!
There was also the friend of a friend who announced her future wedding thusly: "Woo-hoo! I'm engaged! I figured it would happen soon, but I didn't realize it would happen THIS WEEKEND!"
That one made me wonder how many Facebook friends she lost as she gained a fiancé. I'm not crazy about this woman in the first place, and my response to that particular update was to wish her nothing but a miserable marriage and a speedy divorce. The outright bragging might be even more offensive than the not-so-sly reference to the ring.
Now, let me say that I usually have these kinds of extremely truculent reactions only to people I don't know well. When it's my true friends who are spreading their news, I'm always really happy for them.
And I understand the impulse to announce your happy moment on Facebook — you want to celebrate and you also want to announce the news without making 765 phone calls. But for the record, please let me say: THERE'S A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO ANNOUNCE ON FACEBOOK THAT YOU'RE GETTING HITCHED. So please, simply change your relationship status to "engaged" and be done with it.
I dunno, folks. Is this just me? Am I being unfair and kind of an asshole? Or are you with me on this?
The one recent case in which I didn't mind a lengthy discourse accompanying the engagement news? A writer I've met once or twice said: "I'm engaged. And yes, this is right up there with The Parting of the Red Sea." This woman is 40 and hadn't been having much luck in love — until all of a sudden, very quickly, she had the luck of her life. More than just announcing her upcoming marriage, she was making a public service announcement: There is hope for us all.
Although maybe not me.