The Maze of Facebook

The strangest thing happened this morning. I went on Facebook, my modus operandi before starting work, and I saw a startling post. An old friend from my childhood, MK, liked a page advertising designer shoes at a discount. This was confusing to me, because MK died three years ago and has no need for designer shoes, discounted or otherwise.

I don't really understand Facebook. I've been faking it for a while, uploading my published work and posting pictures of my dog. Over the years, my social media skills improved dramatically. I no longer write embarrassing messages on my kids' walls. I know better than to post my phone number or my address. I did just ask my "friends" if anyone had marijuana seeds to share. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.

But I am learning, which is more than I can say for some people my age. When a friend posted photos of himself in front of his mailbox stenciled with his address, standing among a collection of suitcases with a caption: "Leaving for three weeks in Paraguay," I mentioned my concern; "You are telling robbers to come over and help themselves." I'd seen a news story about a naïve Facebook user who announced an upcoming trip and came home afterwards to find an empty house.

"Only my friends see my posts," he responded which is, of course, in error. Anyone can see anything that you post on the Internet. Or anywhere.

Last weekend, my husband and I searched the Internet for a particular light fixture to hang outside our porch door. The next day, my Facebook page featured four sites for lighting supplies. I have no explanation for that.

I am still learning to ignore unsolicited content, like posts claiming to expose why Goldie Hawn no longer talks to her daughter or amazing stories about weight loss. I did get sucked in recently when I received a notice that a very famous author accepted my friend request. "You are now friends with..." Instantly, I envisioned myself at a Gertrude Stein salon, chatting up Papa Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, and peering at Picasso through a cloud of Gaulioses cigarette smoke. But then I remembered -- I never sent a friend request to anyone.

Which brings me back to MK's post. How was it possible that she liked that shoe page? The Internet may be forever, but human beings are not. Is it possible to communicate using social media, even after we're gone? I don't really know. The more I learn about Facebook, the less I understand the digital world. Somehow though, I doubt that MK's spirit reached out from the afterlife simply to comment on a pair of heels. She wasn't much for fashion, even when she was alive. However, that truth did not stop me from pausing at the sight of her name, after which I clicked on the site and ordered two pairs of shoes.

So, I've got to take my hat off to the mysterious magician that commandeers the infinite world of Facebook. Congratulations. You got me.