I am typing this on a computer fueled by a generator (we just received one an hour ago thanks to my dear husband’s boss who doesn’t need it anymore). It is so loud, I can barely think to type…or perhaps that is just the carbon monoxide setting in ha ha.
I fucking hate this hurricane. I hate it. I hate not having real power (six days later), I hate having my house smell like the ass that is the inside of my fridge, I hate that I missed the last episode of Mad Men, I hate going to bed at 7 p.m., and I hate having to drink as opposed to just wanting to.
Sure, sure, I’ve fallen in love with my neighbors (I loved them already, though), and I cried when Bill White spoke on the radio during the days after the storm (I was shell-shocked, but I do adore him), and I’ve nodded more than once as my husband pointed out that yes, we came out pretty clean on the other side, and for that we are lucky.
Yes, I think about that. But really, though, when I truly ponder my situation, what I really think about is Facebook.
About a week before Ike, I encountered Facebook. Now, I realize I was a Johnny-come-lately to that party, but I guess I hadn’t wanted to be sucked in to one more thing to check, one more set of messages to respond to, one more techno faddy thing that seemed to be all the buzz amongst the hipster set.
But after some prompting from others, I signed up just to see what would happen. Almost instantly, it seemed, I was inundated with messages and comments and pokes from people I had literally not seen since the eighth grade. It was incredible. There were people who in my mind’s eye were still 12, 17, 23, and suddenly they’d had babies, had become lesbians, had gotten married and then divorced, had moved to Kenya for God’s sake. I had grown up on the East Coast, gone to college in the Midwest, and made my home in Texas, and magically my enormous, spread-out world was suddenly tied and networked together. When I befriended one old acquaintance from junior high, that rapidly infused my inbox with twenty more friend requests from other people who’d endured adolescence alongside me. I was watching videos of a baby born to a friend from college. I was discovering that a girl I’d admired since high school was as cool as she was back then. I was laughing at pictures of my freshman Homecoming dance date with a huge curly wig on his head.
Everything was connected. It felt like a cocoon, like a small, tiny, lovely little world where everyone I cared about or was just remotely interested in was simply a click away.
On the night of the storm, I felt like the entire world was me, my husband, our animals, and the voice of a frantic Frank Billingsley on our little transistor radio. As our house shook and I realized true fear like I had never known, I felt completely unconnected, isolated, alone. The next morning and in the mornings that followed, as I smiled at our neighbors, helped drag tree branches, and discussed where we might find food, my whole world grew to include about ten people and one street. Everyone else was simply unreachable.
It scared the Hell out of me.
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Facebook. Then no Facebook.
As much as I complain about technology, as much as I whine and moan about people who are too connected to their Crackberries and their Twitter updates and so on, I have to say, I guess I take it all back. The storm made my life small in a bad way. Facebook, and all the modern conveniences of life, made it small in the best way.
I prefer the latter.
-- Jennifer Mathieu