Wednesday, May 29, 2013

on travel and home and the passive aggressive nature of facebook


this morning, i read what suzanne (eggdipdip) wrote about home and going back and how the reality of your life is never as you imagined it would be. and i also read this charming little new yorker piece on guests, family and growing older by david sedaris. even before reading these i was pondering questions of family, home, visits, travels and belonging. 

last week, i got all bent out of shape at my sister, who hadn't shared any pictures, or more importantly, any storiesfrom the rest of their trip (they went on to london and paris after leaving denmark), except for a couple of iPhone photos sent from the road. for all i knew, she was still combing paris for some raspberry pastries that she had vowed to eat all of before returning home. i'd asked her a couple of times on facebook when she was going to start sharing her photos and got some smarty pants answer about how she was going old school and going to have them printed this time. 

the more time that went by with no sharing of stories and experiences and photographic evidence, the more pissy i became. and then it all exploded last week after she nagged me (on facebook) about not handling molly's kittens too much. and facebook, being the passive aggressive central station that it is, escalated things, until we were both mad at each other. and she was issuing "apologies" where in she said she was sorry that i was mad, not that she was sorry she hadn't shared any photos or stories. which is different than apologizing. and possibly could be classified as not apologizing at all.  ahh, sisters, they know better than anyone else how to wind you up. 

but the bottom line was, that i was feeling left out of the rest of the trip and at first it made me sad and then it made me mad. the timing wasn't right for us to tag along to london and omaha beach and paris, so when they left us after their visit, we had to live vicariously through their travels. and if the ones you're living vicariously through don't share what's happening, what you experience is far from vicarious enjoyment. 

then of course, she got home and life intervened and she didn't get the photos downloaded and sorted from various cameras and iDevices and soon several weeks had gone by. but you can never really know what it's like inside of someone else's home life, so if you're far away and not aware of how loan closings and baseball games and trips to the emergency room intervened, you just sit in your own home environment, which is calm and quite uneventful and wait. and grow impatient and a little bit pissy. 

which i guess brings me to what this all got me thinking about...that having visitors upsets the natural rhythms of home in ways that are both good and bad (tho' i will say that my family's visit wasn't long enough to have moved on to the bad part, tho' we could have done without the constant references to the 1990 miss south dakota pageant). a visit pushes you out of your usual routines - you look around you with a different set of eyes - suddenly noticing all of those signs with the word "fart" on them again and being reminded that that's hilarious. you end up filled with expectations, both voiced and unvoiced. and when it all goes back to the routine, you feel a little disrupted and restless. and it takes awhile to find your footing again.

it's the same for the one traveling, there's a re-entry period, where they jump back into life at home and maybe find there's not time to download all of those photos and look through to select the ones to share.   and meanwhile, you sit impatiently waiting to live vicariously through the rest of their travels, to let them transport you as well for a few moments, outside the confines of home. 

2 comments:

Ally said...

I know what you mean about sitting at home in my quiet world... wondering when the heck my friend is going to get it together and post photos/respond on twitter/comment on my blog/whatever. It gets frustrating because it's so easy to take their inaction personally, when in fact, their tardiness has nothing to do with me.

Also, best ever explanation of FB: "facebook, being the passive aggressive central station that it is, escalated things...." So true.

Bill Stankus said...

I dunno, I remember the old days when, as a kid, I had to sit through other people's slide shows or Super 8 movies of their vacations ... Boring. Nothing was ever edited and as the returned travelers squealed with gleam about some bridge or old fort I glazed over and shut down.

I still maintain that disinterest in other people's vacation snapshots.

Good for them but I really don't care. Existentially speaking, I wasn't there, so no big deal.