Once upon a time, a former student wanted to show me some pictures. The best way to do that, she determined, was by way of Facebook. So I got an odd little invite in my e-mail, an invite that told me this student of mine wanted to be my friend. Weird. I had no idea what that meant, but I'm usually game for computer stuff so I signed in and up, and, lo and behold, I was on Facebook.
Some time later, some students told me they thought I was cool--their old chrome-dome prof was right there on Facebook. I didn't know exactly why I was so cool, but at my age you don't fight with such judgments when they come your way. So I went back to Facebook and filled out some questions, including one that asked about marital status--yes, I'm married. Soon after, some students it was a hoot to hear that Dr. Schaap just got married.
My daughter is a heavy Facebook hitter, one of those who writes a lot of things. When I kid her about it, she says she talks to people--including cousins--that she'd never keep up with if it weren't for that massive social networking site. Okay.
So I went back about a week ago and looked at my Facebook page again, something I've done very rarely in the five years or so that I've been on it. Some old students of mine from years and years ago wanted to be friends--sweet. One of them told me I was "the best English teacher on the planet," which made my day, although her judgments were constructed on a tenuous 40-year old appraisal. Who cares?--I'll take the strokes.
Then, last night, when I was on, a new phenom. Suddenly a box jumped up from the lower right-hand corner of my screen. Another ex-student from long ago somehow discovered I was on the site and opened a chat box. I hadn't heard from him for dozens of years--nice. We chatted--nice. It didn't take long, and I asked him what he was up to, etc., and he delivered the goods. His marriage had gone south, water under the bridge was the way he said it. And it must not have been pretty at all. Ugly, in fact. Don't know the details--and I don't want to. I know too many bad stories.
My daughter is right--Facebook gives me occasion to yak with people I wouldn't likely yak with otherwise. But last night I discovered it can also be the bearer of bad, bad tidings.
Still, I'm glad I know. I really am. This morning, I'm even thankful for Facebook.
But sad, too.
I guess that's possible--both thankful and sad. Feels, well, human, I guess.