Surrogate Friendships

Last week, the stars aligned.  The message was received and I understood perfectly what needs to be done.

MR and I were discussing movies.  He ususally watches those freaky Chiller movies downstairs after I go to bed, the ones with a giant shark-topus or montrous killer snakes, but because Halloween is coming, he’s been watching them upstairs, trying to get us to watch them with him.  We were watching  Phantasm, this really bad 1979 movie (okay, they’re ALL really bad) and he asked me if I’d seen Surrogates.  Since I hadn’t, I imdb’d it and found out somehow I’d missed this Bruce Willis movie.  I loves me a good Bruce Willis movie.

According to Touchstone Pictures;

People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes via robotic surrogates — sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. It’s an ideal world where crime, pain, fear and consequences don’t exist. When the first murder in years jolts this utopia, FBI agent Greer discovers a vast conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and must abandon his own surrogate, risking his life to unravel the mystery.

MR didn’t want to go into the plot and ruin it for me, but he did say it reminded him of the Facebook situation.  Watch it, he said.  You’ll see.

Since I’d given up our Blockbuster membership and I don’t have Netflix, I figured I’d have to wait until it came on cable again to check it out.  Two days later, I went to the library to pick up some books I’d reserved.  The way I walk, you have to pass half the library to get to the front door, and the half I pass happens to be the DVD section.  From the sidewalk, I glanced at the shelves and what jumps out at me?

Bruce Willis. Surrogates.  Star number one moves into place.

That night, while MR and Rob are downstairs watching their freaky, scary movies and after Zombiegirl goes to bed, I curl up on the couch with my cup of tea and watch Surrogates.

Whoa.  MR hit the nail on the head, when he said it’s just like Facebook.  At least like my Facebook situation.  Star number two slides to the left.

The next day, my friend Eileen and I went back to the ‘hood to go to my old church’s Rummage Sale a week ago.  (Ei shares my love of thrift sales and she’s just an awesome person to hang out with.  Hi Ei!  Mwah!)   One of my Facebook friends had mentioned the sale was that week, and another had mentioned that I should come.  Since I needed a few things (flannel shirts or sheets, spoons and silk flowers- don’t ask.) I told the girls, invited Eileen and informed Dad I was going.

The Rummage Sale was totally my mom’s thing.  I have literally gone to every Rummage Sale since I was born, with the exception of the last few years.  Mom and the other church ladies would work all weekend sorting through clothes, shoes, bags, glasses, home decor, toys and jewelry, pricing them and putting them out on tables.  When I got old enough to help, I would organize the books and the toys.  We would put stuff aside we wanted and at the end of the day, Mom would settle up with Liz, the church secretary.  I remember leaving school at 3:00 with my brother Robbie and walking the block to the church to meet Mom and get a snack- usually a brownie or the oh-so-coveted jelly apple, which Mom made hundreds of but still had to put two aside since they always sold out within hours.

When Beena and Kansas were little, Mom still worked the sale, and would bring home bags of clothes for the girls.  They would try them on and if they liked them, Mom would settle up.  If not, back to the tables they went.  I rarely had to buy clothes for the kids when they were small.

So coming back after all these years was a little hard.  There were a few hard feelings held against those so-called friends of Mom’s who never visited her or contacted her when she got sick.  Or those friends who never kept in touch with me after I had moved.  And all those memories-  I wasn’t sure how I would react.  But I did have Eileen at my side, and besides- I’m friends with a lot of these people on Facebook.  We’ve kept in virtual touch and surely, they’d dispel and uneasiness and uncertanty.

Pfft.  Yeah, right.  The minute I stepped in the hall, I was flooded with memories.  They came at me full force.  But wait- there’s a Facebook friend!  We comment on each other’s statuses.  Hi! How are you?

Facebook friend looks at me, turns around and walks away.

Hmpf.  Okay, go a little further…another Facebook friend.  This one had surgery- we’ve heard all about it.  I’ve sent good luck and get well messages to her.  I greet her with an enthusiastic HI!  How are you feeling?  How’s it going?

I get a blank stare and a small hello.

Hmmm.  I’m expecting a little more here.  After all- we’re Facebook friends because we’ve touched each other’s lives, right?  We’ve been friends for a long time, now we’re keeping in touch in the virtual neighborhood of Facebook, right?

Okay, continue on.  Shop, shop, shop.  I run into old church ladies who show us pictures of their new grandchildren, tell us about their hairdressers on Long Island and ask about Dad.  Down the next aisle, I hear a distinctive voice- another friend I’ve kept in touch with through Facebook.  I turn around, we recognize each other and… she holds a nice catch-up conversation with me.  We compare ages of the kids, and I leave feeling FINALLY! A Facebook friend who actually ACTS like a real friend.

After about an hour of jostling through the crowd, I manage to snare a flannel sheet, some spoons, a dog toy and a few shirts for Z-girl.  Eileen makes out with some pretty, sparkly Christmas ornaments, some vintage elves and an old Nativity set.  I run into two more Facebook friends, one of which doesn’t make eye contact (she’s the one who invited me) and one who gives me a half-hearted greeting.  We talk a little about Mom’s jelly apples (which they don’t sell anymore since she stopped making them).  At this point I don’t even want to talk to anyone anymore.  Maybe I was too anxious to make the connection, and maybe they were all tired of working the sale all day, but I went away from the Rummage Sale a little disappointed.  Star number three slips into place.

(What does all this have to do with the movie?  Move it along, girl!  I’m getting there, trust me.)

In the movie, the characters all interacted with each other through robotic versions of themselves.  They created an image, oftentimes prettier, or sexier than what they really looked like, and they controlled these robots from their homes, sitting in their pajamas, unwashed and pale.  Through these versions, however, they got to act anyway they wanted.  The face they put on in public was much different than the one they really had.

I’m finding that the faces my friends put on Facebook is much different than the ones I meet at Stop n Shop.  Certainly different than the ones I encountered at the Rummage Sale that night.  I’m guilty of it too.  I post clever (or what I think of as clever) statuses all the time.  I post pictures of vacations, or Z-girl, or things I made.  I’m looking for a reaction, a validation.  And I apologize to my friends for doing so, because I know how annoying it is when I read some of my friends self-important statuses. 

Facebook friend, I know all about your job, your kids and your drinking habits but when I meet you on the street we act like we don’t know each other.  

Facebook friend, I’ve known you for years and years.  I know your kids and their likes and fears but the picture you paint of them online totally doesn’t jive with what I know as the truth. 

Facebook friend, we didn’t talk in high school but you seem to think I need to know everything about you now.

Facebook friend, you tell me you saw I had a headache the other day on Facebook.  If we talked to each other more often, you would have known that without having to read  it online.

Why did I post that status anyway?  Why do my friends care if I have a headahce?  There’s a lot of stuff my friends post that I think I should be blissfully unaware of.  It would probably make me like them more if I didn’t know EVERYTHING about them.  So I’ve decided to disconnect and reconnect.  I’m keeping my Facebook active for a little while after I clean house.  Just because we’ve crossed paths doesn’t mean you’ve touched my life or I’ve touched yours.  It means we’ve crossed paths somehow and ended up on each other’s friend list.  I have your email address in case we ever have to get in touch. Buh-bye, no offense.

The stars align.  Disconnect.  And I will reconnect.  I don’t want to keep in touch with those that matter to me through Facebook or email.  I want to sit with Eileen more often and drink coffee or cry with each other at church.  I’m going to get together with Jeannie and relive when the kids were little.   I’m going to eat lunch with Vivian more often.  Why are the happiest people I know NOT on Facebook?  Star number four nudges into the line.

I took the first step last week after watching Surrogates.  I took the Facebook app off my phone.  The weekend went by and the only time I visited Facebook was to read a message from one friend to check on another friend because that friend un-friended the first friend.  Okay, really?  Disconnect. 

I’m taking my surrogate offline.  I’ve seen the stars align and they’re going to make me happy.


One thought on “Surrogate Friendships

  1. I’m gonna agree with you whole-heartedly on this one. I feel like all the technology that’s supposed to keep us more connected, is only really serving to keep us all apart. It’s impossible to maintain 250 personal, close friendships and that seems to be what FB is encouraging. I wanna focus on having like 7 awesome friends and be done with it.
    And I can’t even tell you what a difference its made in my house since I shut my cable down. We barely even turn the TV on, but I feel like we talk to each other and interact so much more.
    I think I’m gonna have to work my way up to removing my FB app though, but good for you!

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