Monthly Archives: June 2010

Facebook: Looking back, and now

I joined Facebook sometime in the summer following high school graduation to keep in touch with friends and to transition to college by friending random NYU upperclassmen to ask them about the school, both in anticipation over attending it in a few months and in worry over whether i made the right choice.  I also randomly friended other NYU freshmen if i liked their Interests.  Shameful, i know, judging people by their Facebook profiles, but i didn’t know better back then.  Both these types of friend requests, especially the latter, would be considered inappropriate by today’s Facebook etiquette, and some of these friends are still on my list, showing up in my News Feed from time to time.  Not including those upperclassmen who were very nice to me, providing helpful advice and still checking in on me from time to time, and those “interesting profile” people who, to this day, write witty status updates and share interesting links (which i’m always looking for), these people don’t matter to me and i wish i hadn’t been so thoughtless to friend them in the first place.  I know there’s the option of hiding specific people’s activity, preventing them from showing up in your News Feed, but even the thought of doing that makes me feel guilty (even though i know they’ll never know), because i was the one who friended them.

Today, i use Facebook for three things:  keeping up with my friends’ lives, communicating with Facebook-appointment-making-exclusive friends (to be explained later), and for keeping up with the online and offline world.

Since my social life is nearly non-existent, i rely on Facebook to find out what my friends are up to and remind myself that there is indeed life happening above the rock i sometimes live under.  As for the above-mentioned FAME friends, i have a select group of friends, mostly those i’ve made in college, with whom i make appointments to see each other almost exclusively on Facebook (as opposed to by e-mail or phone).  And these are mostly college friends because, as opposed to high school when i didn’t have Facebook and didn’t need it to make friends, almost all of my college friendships either took place entirely over Facebook or were largely undergirded by it, with the help of friendly messaging and wall posting and link sharing.  In other words, without Facebook, it would probably have been much harder for me to make friends in college, especially since i went to a school with over 20,000 undergrads.  I don’t know if that says more about me or Facebook or NYU.

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questions on the loo, issue #6: Is it ethical to have children?

Coincidentally, on the day i wrote about birthdays, Peter Singer wrote about giving birth to new generations on the NYT’s new online column on philosophy, The Stone.  Ever since reading it, i’ve been thinking about the issues raised, but even after eleven days of contemplation, i’m left with far more questions than answers.

Disregarding some of the red herrings in the essay, what i take to be the underlying critical questions are,

1) Is life worth living?

2) Is it ethical to have children without having an objective answer to the first question?

For some perspective, the following are my favorite of however many of the 1258 (and still counting) comments on Singer’s post that i read that address either the first question or Singer’s main question of whether it is ethical to have children knowing that they will have to endure the pain and suffering that are an inevitable part of life.

There is the positive perception of human existence:

It’s the striving, not the fulfilment, that brings satisfaction, at least for mankind.  –Phil (Comment #255)

And the negative:

Those of us who have not shot ourselves in the head are either delusional or cowards. I am a coward who wonders is everyone else really so delusional? Or are we just telling each other that life is worth living when we all know we remain alive because nature has selected for those who fear death the most, and nobody wants to look scared. To me it seems like saying “I meant to do that….” after a gross error or pretending to enjoy the flogging you are recieving for appearances sake. Does the flogged man live for the spaces between the lash? Or does he live for when the lashing is done and he can finally crawl away and die knowing he made a good show of bravery? Either way the whole thing was just torture.  –Todd (Comment #54)

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Filed under childhood, philosophy, questions on the loo

Friendship

I think the happiest i was between elementary school and college was in 9th grade, when for the first time, i had a close-knit group of friends.  Before then, i had gone from best friend to best friend, once valued friendships dissolving for no particular reason, but in 9th grade, three of my friends and i had the time of our lives in Bio and Phys Ed together.  Actually, i don’t know if they enjoyed it as much as i did, but those two consecutive class periods were some of the best times i ever had.  We each had our own friends too, and we were never a foursome—the kind of group where if one member was missing, an outsider would wonder why.  Instead, we were simply four girls enjoying school, without any obligations toward each other, but still valuing our time together.  I wish i still had that, but there’s nothing i can do about the different paths that all the people who enter my life take.

I guess i’m writing about friendship because it’s an area of my life in which i fail so miserably.  I don’t know what happened as i grew up, but with each year, it gets increasingly difficult for me to make friends and keep them.  Does this happen to everyone?  I wouldn’t know, cos i don’t have any friends to talk to about this.  Okay, so that might not do justice to the few friends i still do keep in close contact with, but there’s something to be said for those rare but palpable quandaries when i find myself needing to talk to someone other than my parents, and i can’t help but ask myself, ‘Who is the most appropriate friend to talk to about this?  Who is actually available?  And who wouldn’t mind taking an hour out of their busy night to talk to me?’

Don’t get me wrong; i have great friends who care about me and whom i care about in return.  And some of them would probably be offended if they knew such trains of thought run through my head when i need them.  But there’s still a lot that i miss about my childhood friendships.

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Birthdays

A birthday isn’t a celebration of your birth;
it’s a celebration of why you live.

Friday was my birthday, and it was…  different.  It’s the only one i remember enjoying.  It’s not like i was ever miserable on my birthdays, but i just never assigned much importance to them.  I don’t remember my childhood birthdays, but for the last eight or so years, my attitude was that it’s only another day in the year, nothing to make a fuss over.  My parents would ask me what i wanted, and i’d reply, “I don’t want anything.  Who cares about birthdays?”  I’d hate having to have my mom’s seaweed soup (a traditional Korean birthday soup), because i hate seaweed soup, and she’s not a good cook.  I used to threaten her that i’d stop being her daughter if she made me any.  But this year was different.

I didn’t do much.  I woke up at around 5pm, wrote a few emails, and headed out to FedEx to send out my last document for a job.  UPS was supposed to come by my house to pick up something, but instead of knocking and picking up my package, the delivery man just stuck the mailing label on my door.  (UPS, you have a lot to learn from FedEx.)  Then i went shopping with my parents for “teacher clothes” (more on this in another post) and finally had the ddeok-bok-ki i’d been craving for weeks for dinner.  The ddeok-bok-ki was really good, but the draft beer tasted strange.

And so, it was an altogether unremarkable birthday.  But i was strangely happy, and it was only yesterday that i figured out why, when i was up at my usual summer pre-bedtime hours in the morning.  I’m at a point in my life where i’m perfectly satisfied.  I know where i wanna be in a few years (grad school for Philosophy), and i know what i wanna do before i get there (teach).  And now that i’m closer to making that dream of teaching a reality, i feel completely at ease and confident at the same time.  This is the perfect opportunity for me to take some time off, get away for a while, make new friends, and also have a bit of time to myself to read and practice philosophy in preparation for grad school.  And i value this opportunity because it’s what i wanted most.

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Filed under love, personal