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.