social networking

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I’ve been working on the blog this past week. Mostly going back and reformatting the posts I transplanted from my original blog(s) and tagging them appropriately. It’s tedious work, but fascinating to read my long ago thoughts on this and that.

Lost in 2007 right now, which covers Rob and I from courtship to early months of marriage. I thought I’d written more about us really than what I have found. There are a lot of things I didn’t share, which surprises me because I don’t consider myself the discreet sort.

Another thing that’s come up in preparing the holy writing platform is my “fan” page on Facebook. I felt like such a geek setting one up and it’s very grade seven to ask – but if you do read my blog and are on FB, could you “like” me? Or follow me on Twitter?

Ugh, there –  it’s said. Feel like I need to wash the grovel off now.

I’m also looking for blog topic post ideas. I am not quite ready to rant about U.S. politics. Perhaps I won’t ever be. I shake me head and just as I finish someone else down there commits some new verbal atrocity in the name of capturing the 2012 GOP nom.

Long ago, I asked readers to “ask me” about things they wanted to know. I think the project stemmed from a meme. So here’s your opportunity to ask me again, keeping in mind that there are actually places I won’t go in terms of personal revelation or outing family/friends. Leave a comment here or over on my “fan” page.

Sigh, fan page sounds so pretentious.


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Found a great quote on Twitter today:

“…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

It doesn’t get more true than that.

Specifics fade or morph. They take on lives of their own. But in the end, what drives the things you say or do into another person’s soul like nails into the proverbial coffin are the feelings that resulted.

Good, bad and freak show ugly, what matters at the end of the day is how people feel.

Last evening a friend of Will’s mother contacted me on Facebook.  I haven’t heard from her in five years.  In fact, the last conversation we had concerned her calling on MIL’s behalf to inquire about Will’s burial.

Which I had not invited anyone to attend given the fact that his mother and friends hijacked his visitation and made it all about them and their loss.  Dee and I weren’t even afterthoughts.

At the time, this woman had been acting as a go-between for about six months.  MIL moved shortly before Will went into hospice and refused to allow anyone to tell me her new address or phone number.

And no, there wasn’t any trauma-rama incident that led up to my being persona non-grata.  She just hated me and preferred to let others talk to me and relay information to her.

In our last conversation, I told MIL’s friend that in the future MIL was to contact me herself if she needed information.  I wasn’t catering to her Queen of England fetish anymore.

Okay, I didn’t make the “Queen” comment but I was clear enough.

I didn’t hear from MIL for 8 months and last evening was the first I’d heard from her friend.

“I was searching for friends and thought I would try to find you. I am curious to see pictures of Will’s daughter to see how she is growing up.”

And yes, she referred to Dee as “Will’s daughter”.  I don’t imagine any of his friends remember that Dee is a separate entity with a name of her own.  She’s simply a legacy.

Some Facebook buddies responded to my slightly ranty status update bemoaning having been tracked down. They’d been there and advised using the various privacy tools to limit access to my personal page while still relaying information to interested parties about Dee.

But my sister, DNOS, was more to the point in her reply,

I wouldn’t Annie, you owe them nothing!!!! or completely block em!! It is time to end it!!! All they will do is bring you and everyone else misery!! I know that is mean but I had watch them and that is all I can say!!!!!Well I could say more but can not here.

DNOS is still a bit indignant on my behalf and she is a fierce mama tiger. It was all I could do to keep her from ripping his family and friends to shreds during the funeral.  She did lay waste to one of Will’s pool league buddies who wandered outside for a smoke and ran into her.  He, according to her account, “blubbered like a baby and boo-hoo’d about how he should have been there for Will. And I just gave him a look of disgust and told him he should have before I walked away.”*

My sister is a strong person.  She has no use for the weak, indecisive or those who look back on their poor behavior expecting sympathy. “Fuck ’em” is her motto. You have ample opportunity in life to stand up and be worthy in her opinion.  Regrets are for the useless.

MIL asked me once to forgive her for the slights, dishonesty, malicious attempts to undermine me with the staff at the nursing home and again at hospice.

But I can’t forget what the Social Worker at hospice told me after one such attack,

“She hates you. Be careful.”

I am not at all sure what prompted the friend’s request for photos. I messaged back that she should inquire with MIL for photo access as I have sent her pictures recently.  She replied with a “thank you” and not much more.  I suspect that MIL sent her looking for me on FB with the intent of gaining access to real-time information via my page.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the hunt has even led them to this blog or the others for which I have written.

I have enjoyed five years of pretty much total anonymity from Will’s family and friends on the Internet.  Longer than I should have expected but given their mercurial temperaments and historic lack of interest in how Dee or I was faring, perhaps it’s more of a surprise to be found at all.

I haven’t forgotten the feelings associated with dealing with a single one of them. I was the Cinderella of care-taking and then of widowhood, and I broke all manner of polite society (which is funnier if you know the people I am taking about) rules by moving on and eventually remarrying.

Gut instinct says this is first contact.

*On a side note, DNOS informed friend and MIL’s sister that no way in hell would they ever see Dee again after the funeral. I knew nothing about this exchange at the time. In fact, DNOS was under orders from me not to start anything with the in-laws, whom she held in great contempt for their failure to be much help. She especially disliked MIL for her antics while Will was in hospice and when we arrived at the funeral home to find that MIL and friends had set up camp and taken over, it was all I could do to hold DNOS back. I wasn’t in the mood for a Finnegan sort of wake.

I swore I would not get sucked in to the collection of people in order to validate myself, but Facebook just makes it too easy with its constant suggestions of “people you may know”. And what’s worse is no one I send a friend request to questions my right to “claim” them. Only one or two have ever even asked,

“And who the hell are you again?”

Oh okay, I have been rejected. Two guys I actually know ignored my friend request although one of them took my suggestion of possible friends for him and added her to his friend list. I would have thought he would have gotten over our high school antipathy for each other, but I see that his religious vocation hasn’t improved his disposition much. The other gentlemen was a college friend but since I can’t recall a single conversation I ever had with him where he wasn’t a) looking at himself in a mirror or b) checking around to see who might be watching him talking to a fat girl who didn’t complement his hip cheerleader image.*

“Are you friends with my sister now?” Rob asked me.



“Because Facebook suggested I might know her,” I replied.

“Yeah, I have a solution for those ‘suggestions’. I hit the x mark and delete them.”

And I do, but many of the people suggested are fellow bloggers and writers and I like networking. I just think the line blurs a bit with the constant suggesting. Then it becomes a game of sorts. I have one suggested “friend” who has over three thousand friends. The more popular bloggers have hundreds who are probably readers of theirs and that may be where my drive to reach out stems from. I am hoping to get people to read what I write on the sites I am writing for. There’s nothing wrong with that? Is there?

I have made good requests. I found my old friend Leslie. Do you remember her? I blogged about her not long ago. She is not the Internet slug I am, so I have just heard from her a few times, but she was a gem among the friends found recently.

I am in control of my Facebook destiny however. If I were not writing as prolifically as I am at the moment I would pull the plug on it. But writers need platforms – I am told – for reaching out and interacting. So I stay. 

*Yes, I know that male cheerleaders in college are so the opposite of cool. For the record, I was about the only girl in our circle of friends who didn’t have a crush on him. I don’t like pretty men.

I have been on Facebook quite a bit this last week. I haven’t spent that much time there since I registered. Facebook was just a way to keep in touch with my step-daughters in the beginning. I really didn’t get the whole acquistion of “friends” thing. I mean, how can a person have 434 friends? Some of these people have to be acquaintances or simply networking connections, right?

Until about a week ago, I had about 25 friends give or take. Fewer than even my husband though in fairness to me – he is related to most of his Facebook friends. But after I discovered that a few of my fellow bloggers at 50 Something Moms were on Facebook and then started checking out their friends list… was all over. I went on a friend’s request frenzy. I now have 47 friends.

To be sure, I do “know” nearly all my friends. They are people I’ve met in person or via their blogs. Most of them I interact with if only virtually. Still, it’s odd. This new need of mine to reach out and connect and, um, network.

Rob had a glance at my list tonight and said,

“You won’t be able to use the “not knowing anyone” excuse to stay away from Blogher next year.”

Yeah, I know. How pathetic of an excuse was that? But I am very shy despite my online image to the contrary.

I read often via other bloggers, writers, writing bloggers, and blogging writers that using social networking is one of the keys to success. Facebook and Fuel My Blog are really my only form of social addiction, and I am not hardcore. I don’t know how to add the de*li*cious or Digg widgets to my posts. I think Twitter would force me to pay attention to my cell phone, and I am still not over being coerced into getting one in the first place by my late husband. It turned out to be little more than a GPS for my mother.

But do I aspire to be say – The Bloggess? She has like 400 and something friends. But Rob reminds me of some recent study that revealed that beyond 150 people, we become overwhelmed and shut down. This means that 350 of the friends on Bloggess’ list are taxing her mental processes to a point that could short-circuit her.

I don’t think I will ever have that problem.*

I do think that there is something to this networking thing though. In addition to my Facebook peeps, I have blogging comrades and have met writers and political pundits. I have even been allowed to blog elsewhere. Christina Katz, an author, blogger, and freelancer,** has a new book out titled, Get Known Before the Book Deal. I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know if Facebook, or anything else for that matter, is part of the “getting known”. I think probably, yes.

So, wanna be Facebook friends? It could be mutually beneficial.

*Her fame or the mental collapse thing.

**And someone I know through her blog and on Facebook.

P.S. Please run over to 50 Something Moms today for my new piece, The Full Monty.

There is a social isolation epidemic in America. We have fewer close friends than in years past. We have fewer intimates with whom we can share those thoughts that keep us up into the night. We have replaced physical relationships with Netbuddies and conversations with texting.

For myself I am in a friendship drought again, but this is not unusual for me. I have weathered many periods of social solitude over the years, and I have never had more than two close friends at a time.

I was reading the local paper today and my least favorite columnist was weighing in on this particular topic. It was her contention that people in the Midwest are much friendlier than people in larger cities or Europe. She based this on the observations of another woman who had lived in Europe, Boston and then finally Iowa.

I am not sure I buy into the notion that it is geography or ethnicity that make some places less “friendly” than others. I think, like most things, it comes back to you and where you are in your life internally. I have been more open at different times and definitely closed to relationships at others. There have been times even when I thought I wanted relationships but did nothing to further that end because in reality I didn’t want anything more than to be on my own.

Being the caretaker of a terminally ill husband and now a widow, I have come to know loneliness in ways that defy easy definitions. There were days on end when the only people I had to interact with were a toddler and a husband with a short-term memory that was so short he could literally turn away from you and back again and have forgotten everything you just told him. It wasn’t so much losing him physically but the emotional loss. For both of us. He was so disoriented that he couldn’t access the emotions that had pulled us together in the first place.

Now, of course, I face the new burden of making people too uncomfortable for them to want to be around me. I have to choose my words carefully so as not to reference my old life too often. Too many remarks and I am living in the past and too few means that I am in denial or worse, I must not have loved my husband very much in the first place to be moving on so quickly.

An article in last month’s Oprah talked about how the socially isolated bring much of their loneliness on themselves. It gave the standard advice that the shy and socially inept always receive. Practice smiling. Put yourselves in social situations more often. Relax. Blah. Blah. More simply put, try not to be yourself so much and people will like you more for being more like them.

I don’t smile continually and that’s a genetic thing I realized only after my daughter was born. She had the most serious look on her face at all times. “She’s shy,” people would say but I never allowed her to be labeled. “She needs to assess her surroundings,” I would tell people. “When she’s ready, she’ll come to you.” I am not inept. I socialize quite well once I get my bearings, but I admit I am easily overwhelmed by numbers and noise, just like my daughter. It is easy to like outgoing and the pretty. It’s just as easy to find them annoying and shallow because frankly some people are not worth the effort of getting to know them. What they project is what you are getting.

I used to think that my loneliness was my fault somehow, like Oprah said, but it’s not. There are boundaries on my personality which make me who I am and limitations on my life, now especially, that make social situations hard to be a part of or even participate in at all. Am I lonely? Yes. I lost my husband and he had filled in all the drafty, empty spaces in my world. But am I lonelier than ever? Not really. I have been here before. It’s just a lull and it will pass and I know this because it always has.