(Portal to the past? But do we really want to “Go there”? Facebook breathes new life into old memories, and it’s available to anyone with a computer.)
There’s been a movie about it; its founder is lauded as “Boy Wonder;” its growth threatens to eclipse all else in its illustrious path. Whatever could “Go wrong” in Facebook‘s path?
Well, it just may let us know a little too much.
For instance, I’ve got friends who have just begun accessing the many talents of the social network sites, and Facebook figures prominently in that group. I got a call the other day from one who was breathless in her reaction to having seen an old flame. OK, he didn’t simply cross her path. She was looking……….. Seriously. It’s easier to do with men, since their names don’t change with marital situations (I, myself, am Colleen Kelly, Allen, Mellor, on Facebook.)
Anyway, she found him.
There he was, staring back at her, looking none the worse for wear. She greedily scanned his profile information, looking for the most important fact. “In a relationship?” “Yes,” he had stated that he was. She checked out the woman’s picture and determined she was “nothing special” and went on to discover more of this person she hadn’t seen, nor heard from in 40+ years.
Oh, he’d remained firmly locked in her memory over the years, those safely tucked-away fantasies we all harbor of how things could have gone, if we‘d done this-or-that differently. After all, he was the one who quickened her pulse when she was 18, the one who, like Bogie in “Casablanca,” merely stepped into a room, locked eyes with her (Ingrid Bergman), and ignited her passion.
My friend remembered it well…too well in fact. It had been her well-guarded secret for over 4 decades. And now, Facebook put him within reach.
Before she knew it, she’d sent him a message (one between just the two of them), asking if he remembered her, fervently hoping he wouldn’t need more reminders. Two weeks passed, during which she stressed and punished herself inordinately, for he never responded. In that time period, she began to doubt her importance to him (perhaps she’d been a meaningless fling), but then she received word: “Yes, he remembered.”
They exchanged information: He’d been married twice; one marriage (his current) sustained (she‘s married, too). He has no kids. He’s had different jobs, but there was nothing remarkable about his career path. He now lives in Pennsylvania (Facebook knows no territorial bounds). They exchanged a couple more messages, and then she bumped it up to the next level: “Would you like to talk by phone?”
Again, the interminable gulf before she heard: “Yes, let’s do that.”
She recognizes she’s on rocky ground in all of this; she doesn’t know where all this is going but like the moth to the flame, she’s attracted, unwittingly. She knows, too, that her preliminary actions might unleash a firestorm of feelings that won’t dissipate on their own and wonders, too: “What is the next level?”
She’s not alone in all this. Statistics concerning how many marriages lie beached on the rocky shoals of the networking sites may simply be the new elephant in the room. How many people seek the answers to the questions they harbored all their lives: “What if………….?”
The reality is: Most long-term marriages could never sustain a serious drive from an old flame, for the very fact that the old flame comes with young memories. After all, we knew that person at a time when we were at our height in all arenas.
Then, too, memory is generally “selective,” meaning we keep what we cherish and ignore the other. That’s why “The Old Flame Newly-Discovered” now looms as an Adonis. Why wouldn’t he? He’s lain in our fantasy world–undisturbed–for decades, never growing old…or annoying…or problematic.
We haven’t seen him when he’s had no job, terrible kids, a nasty disposition (under duress), diminished capacity. Quite simply, he’s occupied the rarified air of a snow globe…You know, the item we like to shake up, seasonally, to bring back Christmas memories. The rest of the year it sits undisturbed on a bookshelf.
And that’s perhaps what we really should do with the Old Flames….Leave them undisturbed. Biddy wonders if Facebook isn’t really a Pandora’s Box whose contents unleashed will bring on a boatload of problems.
She wonders what you think on this most important issue…..Hit the buttons below to “Comment” or “Leave a Comment” and send to others, if you think they might appreciate (icons provided).