Today, because I live in the land of the teenaged, I spoke to Charlie, who is upstairs in the kitchen as I write this (from downstairs in my office), on Facebook chat. And you know what? It was sort of fun. Tone of voice, which can so easily derail a conversation with someone you love who also happens to be under the influence of, well, whatever it is that makes you a teenager, is entirely absent when you type. No one rolls his eyes. No one raises her voice. No one expresses disdain or impatience or irritation. Maybe we need to spend the next four years texting and twittering and chatting.
I am beginning to see the charm of micro-communication. 140 characters need not always be superficial communication. Those 140 characters can add up to something quite substantial when they are partof an ongoing series of micro communications. On Facebook, I know when my friends are happy or worried or feeling elated. I can see the shifts in their moods, the moments that make up their days and what they really, really like to eat. (Who knew there was such a thing as a sushi burrito?) And because the price of admission to Facebook for my children was that they had to publicly acknowledge me as their friend, I know when my child isn’t too crazy about school, or misses Easter, or is loving his freedom this weekend. I don’t DO anything about any of this — except maybe a thumbs up (not to the teenagers — they really don’t want your thumbs on their facebook page) and an observation or two of my own. But all this information accumulates into a sense of who people are — or who they want to be, or who they’re working toward being. It’s terribly interesting and awfully weird, but really quite wonderful too.