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The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories

Face Time
• Oswaldo Jimenez

take the pill

Scott Shulberg and Anthony Jenkins cherished the slow pace of Sundays mornings. They enjoyed the meandering sounds of the waking city, the feel of the soft wind on their faces as they walked, arm in arm, over the Brooklyn Bridge. They walked slowly, as if counting and recounting the number of steps it had taken them to get away from the city that fateful day when they met. They enjoyed each other’s company.

The lull of Sunday mornings had become their refuge since that day when they met, under unfamiliar and unforgettable circumstances—marked by extremely loud, and incredibly close machinations of fate, when they’d helped each other cross the bridge, covered in white dust and disbelief.

It was Sunday, again. They’d crossed the bridge again and reached the park bench where they sat together and told and retold their daily life stories, as if trying to take account of every day, every hour, every second of their current lives, as an antidote for fear.

Scott had been resting his sight on the convex and concave spaces created by the hanging lines along the Brooklyn Bridge when he began his monologue.

“I was introduced to Facebook by a co-worker. ‘Face – book’ sounded weird to me. Nevertheless, unfamiliar with the concept of ‘friending’ and ‘unfriending’ online as I was, it intrigued me. Furthermore, I wanted to be hip, to be involved in the newest techno-friending trends, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I embraced the challenge and made a profile for myself on Facebook. Still, the concept of baring myself in front of ‘friends’ seemed rather...yucky. I decided, nonetheless, to give it the old college try.”

“'Old' being the operative word in your case,” quipped Anthony, with a slight smirk on his face.

“Age, however, had nothing to do with it, with my decision. I’d heard of baby boomers embracing the newer methods of keeping in touch. Mothers, fathers, popops, momoms, avidly flocking to place their faces on the electronic version of the phone book. So, really, if you’re in Facebook, you are IN. In any case, what does age have to do with it? Although a recent article I read somewhere reported that ‘kids’ regarded Twitter and Facebook as being for ‘old people.’“

“Old? Like what? Twenty-one?” quipped Anthony, bringing his hand up to his mouth to muffle his laughter.

“So, my face went up on the Book!

“Friend requests started popping up daily. Friends-of-the-friends-of-the-friends-who-were-friends were recommended by some algorithm, or ‘bot’ developed by some freckled-faced programmer named Skater in Silicon Valley. Initially, adding friends to my page seemed like a cool thing to do. My ‘friend tree’ kept branching out in all directions, by many means: invitations, recommendations, even just plain old necessity (unless you’re friends with someone, I learned, you can’t see their stuff.) Later, though, my curiosity subsided.”

“Curiosity killed!” said Anthony, without regard to his friend’s frowning face.

“Well, Facebook, it turns out, was not meant for MY face, nor my liking. My Facebook wall kept growing, scrolling endlessly with unimaginably mundane stuff—bad photos, dull comments, boring sayings, stuff that most people, families, try to keep under the covers. Jane at the farm needs your help for the umpteenth time to find her lost cow? June has made her brain grow to unimaginable scales, in ‘how big is your brain.’ Jack, the master of one liners and fortune-cookie-wisdom, keeps getting tons of “atta-boys” and virtual pats-on-the-back from ‘friend-fans’ for his tasteless fart-jokes.”

“LOL, OMG, BRB...WTF? Ha, Ha, Ha.” Anthony couldn’t resist the temptation.

“FACEBOOK, if anything, was an interesting sociological experiment for me. It reminded me how mundane, silly, obtuse, dumb and, if I include my own, plain boring and in some cases unbearable people’s lives can often be. The current fascination with social media is perhaps what Carl Jung’s ‘Modern Man in Search of a Soul’ tried to address, or perhaps, what Marshall McLuhan meant in his ‘The Medium is the Message’ statement, or what Mark Edmundson wrote in his book, ‘Why Read’: The result [of Googling for facts] is to suspend reflection about the differences among wisdom, knowledge, and information. Thus the possibility presents itself that there really is no more wisdom, no more knowledge, only information.”

“Well, perhaps seeing how BORING someone else’s life is will make yours seem so much more exciting! Thumbs-up glyph here!” Anthony said, gleefully.

“Well, the fact remains that my Face does not belong in the Book. If you read what I’m saying, and you’re my Facebook friend by some algorithmic chance, I’m sure you’ll ‘unfriend me’ faster than I can spell LOL. But, that’s Oh-Kay! After seeing the millionth baby-Jane-kissing-the-dog and the trillionth flash-burned-snapshot-of-the-drunken-relative....I think I'm ready for oblivion.”

Anthony lifted his Yankee’s cap off his balding head in a gesture of camaraderie and replied, “Cheers!”

Sunday morning walks had become a comfort, a ritual, for Scott Shulberg and Anthony Jenkins. Each looked forward to the other’s company. They had grown very fond of seeing the familiarity of each other’s faces, reading the telltale signs of their maturity etched on every line, every scar, every mole, every whisker, that told a myriad stories of lives having been lived, endured, and tamed, mostly.
© Oswaldo Jimenez August 2014

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