Tuesday morning July 5 dawned clear and bright on South Padre Island. After a fun-filled 4th of July evening of food, fireworks, and friends, I reveled in the luxury of sleeping in. When I finally stirred, I sauntered over to my laptop where I was delighted to receive the following cryptic message:
I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. Your account was disabled in error. Your account has been reactivated and you will now be able to log in.
Thanks for contacting Facebook,
That was it…that’s all I was told. Thanks Hogan! Hogan? I’ve never met anyone with the name Hogan. And, it was just signed, “Hogan” with no last name in evidence. I wonder if Hogan is even a real person or just a virtual one, which would be kind of fitting for facebook if you think about it, wouldn’t it? What a denouement! I anxiously logged in to my account, which turned out to be just as I’d left it three days earlier when it was precipitously and mysteriously disabled. What a relief! I noticed the number of facebook credits listed had climbed to 5 from my customary 0. No explanation of the 5 credits was forthcoming either. I assume the credits were an amend for their error, perhaps so I could purchase something called an “unwither” on Farmville to rescue my virtual crops which had been neglected during my banishment. As of this writing, it’s been two weeks and I’ve heard nothing else, so apparently, we may never know exactly what the aforementioned error was that caused me so much grief.
The errant disabling of my facebook account had given me some serious food for thought. I’ve been a facebook user for almost 5 years. Facebook has grown to great personal and cultural significance in that relatively short span of time. I considered the myriad ways facebook had become an integral part of my day-to-day life to help me understand why I had taken the unexpected disabling of my account so hard. There were so many! I use it as an address book. I use it to stay in touch with my family, which is spread all over the country. It’s the primary way I share news, jokes and important information. Facebook has become an easy way to make plans when I want to get together with my friends. It’s my scrap book and photo album. I’ve forged many new relationships through facebook and I missed my globally dispersed buddies when I couldn’t jump online as I was used to. I even have some facebook penpals! It was distressing to be unable to write to them and eagerly anticipate their replies while I was gone. Facebook has become a way I pass the time when there are too few minutes to begin a new task but too many minutes to fill by just taking a few breaths before moving on. The facebook games I enjoy have become an easily accessible source of simple relaxation and pleasure. Posting on facebook has become the way I generally seek advice. I remember asking whether I should replace or fix my broken washing machine as my status. I had a wealth of helpful responses at my fingertips within an hour advising me to can the 10 year old machine and buy a new one, which I did. Through facebook, I’ve reconnected with old friends from camp. high school and college who I never thought I would be close to again. I am so delighted to see how much I enjoy their company and being a part of their lives again, even if the relationship is now (for the most part) “virtual”. As an inveterate night owl, facebook has become a lovely way to chat with those I care about in other time zones while those who are geographically closer are blissfully snoozing away in the land of Nod. When I couldn’t log onto my account, I worried that my friends might jump to negative conclusions, assuming that they had somehow earned my wrath, that I had un-friended or blocked them without the courtesy of an explanation. I sent out several emails explaining what had transpired so no one would think I might do such an awful thing. Their reassurances were a comfort to me. In summary I realize that facebook adds a richness to my life that would cause me significant grief if it were permanently snatched away. I hope the facebook team appreciates the honor and responsibility this bestows upon them.
I am delighted that my account was restored so quickly. From what I’d read of the experiences of others in similar situations I was very fortunate. Perhaps facebook has streamlined their procedures for evaluating and restoring accounts. If they have, I applaud this change. If they haven’t, I hope they seriously consider that they themselves describe facebook as a social “utility.” No other utility gets cut off without warning or remedy, even with just cause. Personally and professionally, I see the importance of facebook in people’s lives growing more each day. My clients share content from their pages in the course of their psychotherapy. Relationships are not over until one’s relationship status has changed to “single” with much trepidation spent on making this proclamation. Good news gets shared, emotional support is offered, laughter spreads because of jokes, videos or amusing anecdotes. Information and advice fly through the ether to the benefit of all who receive them. People from the far corners of the earth play games together and get to know one another. Lives are cataloged through status updates, stories and photos. Simple pleasure is constantly at our fingertips. In this age of constant busy-ness, isolation and dissent, facebook is like the pub in the show “Cheers.” It’s the place you can always visit where “everybody knows your name.” What a treasure.