Would Ralph Waldo Emerson Have “Friended” Face Book?

No. And he would have known the transitive verb “befriend.”

Emerson in his Transcendental, philosophical way regarded friendship as sacred — in similar esteem with love in St. Paul’s I Corinthians 13. Emerson would not have trifled with Face book and other abominations. “I hate,” Emerson said, “the prostitution of the name of friendship to signify modish and worldly alliances.” And so do I.

The faceless Face book Team and 600 million aficionados of Face book would not agree and they would scoff at such high-mindedness. Perhaps they would say what is really meant by “friend” is contact, target or even better, mark. Very well, then use these words. I suppose that early on there might have been some credence given to real friendship or at least genuine acquaintance when the purpose of this monolithic engine was to unite groups of people in order to share experiences, opinions and ideas in some tacit personal way. That was before the mania of contacting expanded unto the thirteenth cousin and the infinite generations of contacts. Face book does foment revolutions which requires revolutionary camaraderie.

Before I dropped out of the fad, my circle of people whom I barely new personally came to thirty. Some of them were good and fine acquaintances, none intimate. Eventually the White House got onto my list. In my cyber stumbling I must have authorized a feed. A couple of businesses were continuing to update me. I like the White House and I like the particular businesses and I will go to them when my mower needs care and I need insurance. Until then I don’t need to know about the Toro Open. However, I truly don’t know what to do with the plethora of photos of people gathered round picnic tables, some with obvious physical endowments clutching thermos bottles or swinging a stein in some California bar. Whatever am I to do with an unknown someone waving from the top of the boarding ladder of a Delta jet. Family albums are for families. Period. There seems to be no remote awareness of ecology in cyberspace. Don’t all those pixels take up room in cyberspace? Is there no end to expanding band width? And why can one only hide and not delete posts from his Wall? Tidiness is next to godliness except on the Face book Wall.

I would be posting this on Face book, if I still had my account there. Actually, I still do, but it is inaccessible now, so the world will miss me grinning and waving from out of a social event absolutely no one could care about. I’ve been hacked, the Face book Team told me. Ah, so there are enemies on Face book. Of course, the friendly folks on the Team are so anonymous and totally hidden from the slightest accountability that I could not send back a message. I did receive a reset code, twice, which turned out to be invalid. I sent disgusted messages to the robot anyway after I despaired of getting any help from anyone anywhere — after I had just managed the day before to post my mug on my profile. Pf-ft. My handsome face is hidden. I will never reach the celebrity for which I am destined. Alas and damn, I am only one speck among 500 million. Now, I would sooner talk to the Borg even though I know resistance is futile. I also know what one gets is what he pays for. So I can’t expect much.

In his famous essay Emerson suggests a possible letter that a man might write to all candidates for his friendship. It reads::

Dear Friend: —

If I was sure of thee, sure of thy capacity, sure to match my mood with thine, I should never think again of trifles in relation to thy comings and goings. I am not very wise; my moods are quite attainable; and I respect thy genius; it is to me as yet unfathomed; yet dare I not presume in thee a perfect intelligence of me, and so thou art to me a delicious torment. Thine ever, or never.

Emerson goes on to say that this letter works for intellectual bemusement and distinctly not in the real world of real people. To apply its austerity to real people will make a person very, very lonely, I think; and that’s where love takes over. Nevertheless, I found Face book a very, very dangerous and alien place.

Never again, Face book.

Cautious and steadfast,

The Tortoise




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About thet7200

David Milliken has been a life-long, incurable English Major currently serving as Marketing VP for Lawyer-Agents.com and 4Inc.com, a provider of registered agents, incorporation services and LLC's and trademarks. Prior to that he was a professional chamber of commerce executive for chambers in Ohio, New York and Kansas. Other work includes community college PR, brick sales and community/economic development He is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Idaho State University(M.A.) He attended Kansas State University for more English studies. He has not been a butcher, baker nor candlestick maker, but he has taught English and run for political office. David Milliken is an author aspiring to become a published one.

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