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Fay's Beach Buzz             

The handwriting
is on the wall

© 2008 Fay Jacobs

Fay Jacobs

As it turns out, I'm not particularly Scrabulous. For a wordsmith, it's amazing how much I suck at playing the online version of Scrabble.

I got into this frustrating cyber game as a consequence of my foray into the baffling and relentless world of social networking. And it seems to be taking over my life. Social networking is like an online social disease. I don't know how I got it and it won't go away.

It started when I got an e-mail invitation from a friend to join Facebook. You know me, I hate turning down invitations. Once I joined, I was instructed to ask all my friends to join as well. After days of adding myself as a friend to folks with Facebook pages and then inviting old and new friends to my own fledgling Facebook page, things started to spin out of control.

I began hearing from people from the great beyond - like back in college or even high school, plus I was getting invitations to become friends with people I didn't even remember. It was the invitations to become friends with friends of friends that started making me crazy. I was so busy inviting friends to join Facebook and then My Space, I got confused and started inviting people to join My Face.

And was that face red when buddies asked me what Facebook was all about and I had no bloody idea.

The next thing I knew, I received cyber Petunias from a site called Green Patch and was invited to send people cyber shrubbery to help raise money to save the rain forest. I tried to figure out how to forward flowers to a bunch of folks but at the end of the day I got so flustered I'm probably responsible for the loss of several hundred acres along the Amazon.

And speaking of Amazon, there's a Facebook thing called Bookshelf, which somebody invited me to join. For the next several days I used every waking moment clicking on books I've read and writing mini-reviews of them so the Bookshelf geeks - whoever they are - will understand my reading preferences to recommend books for me. I checked off everything from Catcher in the Rye to Kite Runner. At one point, in the upper right-hand portion of my screen appeared the words YOU ARE NOT READING ANYTHING RIGHT NOW. Of course not, you cyber poops, I'm filling up my virtual bookshelf and wasting time writing book reports when I could have been doing something productive like playing online Scrabble.

It's bad enough when you put your hand in the Scrabble bag and pull out all vowels in a regular game, but when the computer sticks you with iiieeoa who do you bitch at? One afternoon the dogs found me screaming at my flat screen monitor and wondered if it had peed in the house.

Meanwhile back at Facebook, friends and acquaintances are inviting me to join all kinds of communities, like college alumni associations, sports team groups, The National Sarcasm Society. That one was a temptation. And I just got invited to spend time answering movie quizzes and writing movie reviews. This will be a great way to fill my time when I'm in the rest home, but right now there's stuff happening in the real world and I'm sitting here writing a review of Spaceballs. Somebody help me.

Best I can tell, cyber social networking is a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you do it right you have no time for real life social networking.

I finally located the "cancel" link for the movie quiz thing and so far I have confined myself to joining just four Facebook groups - Saints & Sinners Authors (writers who participate annually in a New Orleans GLBT literary conference), One Million Strong for Marriage Equality (it can't hurt), Matt Denn for Lt. Governor, and Six Gay Degrees of Separation, which is a group trying to get one million gay people to sign up so it can make use of our cyber muscle to fight for our rights.

And in the middle of all this social networking somebody poked me. It didn't hurt, but I had no idea why I'd been poked.

Apparently poking is the online equivalent of somebody sticking their index finger in your shoulder. I hate that for real, so getting poked online is especially insulting. On the other hand, cyber hugging, another Facebook activity, is less irritating but no more satisfying. Hugging should be a contact sport, dontcha think?

Then there's the wall thing, where your online friends can leave you messages. I haven't written on the walls since I was five years old. Okay you boomers, remember the TV show Crusader Rabbit where you got a plastic thing to put on the TV screen and you could trace the rabbit's whereabouts? One day, with my burnt umber crayon I wrote right off the screen, onto the floor and up the wall. The parents were not amused.

But now, in my dotage, I'm being asked to write on people's walls. If texting is the new phone call, writing on somebody's wall is the new e-mail. Every day I get messages from friends who have written on my wall.

Naturally, I feel compelled to write back, since everybody can see your site and see who wrote on your wall and see the time when they wrote it and know if you have been prompt in answering or, instead, you are blowing people off in favor of your online Scrabulous game. The pressure to be responsive and clever is positively crushing.

Then there's the "Fay is…" at the top of my Facebook page. You're supposed to write what you are doing at the moment, but nobody writes "Answering this question on Facebook," which is what they are all doing, because like me they are hooked on this idiotic social networking site. I can't even write that I'm playing online scrabble because I had to forfeit my turn because I had all vowels again.

Frankly, I can't be doing anything else, like reading the paper, doing the laundry or finishing my column, because these Facebook questions are requiring so much of my time. So once again I answer "Fay is…trying to keep up with Facebook…"

Oops, it's my turn in Scrabulous. I get a whopping three points for the word "ass." Yes indeedy.

Your move. And make it snappy. I've got to go write on several people's walls, recommend some books, fill out a questionnaire about my taste in music, and see who else is friends with all my friends so I can add more friends and write on more walls and recommend more movies and...

Somebody poke me in the eye and get me off this Facebook page. My column is due by midnight tonight and I still haven't started.

"Fay is...panicking." Somebody help her.
Contact Fay at:
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor of A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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