“Excuse me, your status is showing.”
It happened the day my mother “friended” me on Facebook. That’s when I knew the world had changed.
Up to that point, Facebook had been simply yet another social media site I visited, a place to reconnect with long-lost college roommates, take ridiculously time-consuming quizzes to discover my hidden self (for what it’s worth, I’m a perceiving extrovert who enjoys reading and long walks on the beach), and check in on my high school classmates without actually having to attend the reunion. It was all very much a virtual party, complete with virtual cake, virtual drinks, virtual decorations, and virtual gifts.
That is, until my mother showed up.
Suddenly the event was no longer a select meet-and-greet, a party by invitation only. No, somehow, the gathering had grown, moved outdoors, and was happening in the streets. It was a community block party and everyone was invited. Including my mother.
That’s when I realized that my virtual world and my real world had collided. More to the point, that was the moment that I realized that the virtual world, that Facebook, was the real world. And that what I had been using as a form of escapism was simply another level of interaction with very real coworkers, friends, neighbors, and in this case, relatives. In a word, Facebook was community.
As such, it was going to get pretty messy.