When I’d been on Facebook a year, I blogged about it. This seems to be a universal truth: If you blog and if you use social media, sooner or later you will blog about social media. I was a late adopter. I was afraid FB would suck me into the computer and leave me estranged from the place I actually live in.
Big surprise: Martha’s Vineyard and Facebook meshed together in ways I hadn’t imagined.
They’ve been meshing ever since. Almost a year ago I set out to blog an update but never finished it.
Shortly after New Year’s, though, I did devote a blog post to MV Stuff 4 Sale, which was and still is a wonder. On January 3, it had 2,344 members. Now it’s got 3,757. Last winter founder Kim Hillard turned admin duties over to a volunteer troika: Jen Bernier Wiggin, Julie Immelt, and Zackary Bernard. Such transitions are risky for any organization, but “MV Stuff” has continued to grow and thrive. Maybe most important, it’s an ongoing demonstration of how community can work, and a place to hone your online people skills.
Is it weird to be looking at photos of Martha’s Vineyard on Facebook when you live on Martha’s Vineyard and can see most of those places in person? Hell, no! On FB I’ve discovered that there are wonderful photographers here whom I’d never heard of — or, more often, I’d heard of them but had no idea they were such good photographers.
Martina Mastromonaco’s photos continue to amaze — as Chilmark summer beach superintendent she has round-the-clock access to some of the most beautiful, dynamic sites on the island — and often amuse. She’s got several groups going, like “Martha’s Vineyard Where Was I?,” where anyone can post photos and everyone tries to guess where they were taken. Some are easy, some are hard, and often a photo will prompt a string of reminiscences about people and events associated with a particular place.
Everyone on Facebook has a news feed. That’s where posts and photos from your friends appear. It’s always scrollin’, scrollin’, scrollin’ — the more friends you’ve got, and the more active they are, the faster it scrolls. A news feed is a river. My usual is to log on, jump in, float downstream for a while, and jump out again. In 15 minutes I might learn about a local event, gawk at Sarah Mayhew’s bird photos, join in a punfest, answer someone’s grammar question, laugh at a funny poster, listen to a song on YouTube, and comment on a political discussion.
Some of what comes floating down the river sparkles with its own light. The day is off to a good start when the first thing you see is a rhyming comment on island life. D.A.W., fictional character, is a frequent contributor. (So is Dan Waters, but that’s another story.)
Lee Mccormack, resident curmudgeon, culture critic, and Martha’s Vineyard’s current poet laureate, is sort of a self-syndicated columnist. Whatever rut you’re stuck in, mental or physical, spiritual or emotional, he’ll kick you out of it.
When the power goes out or emergency vehicles go screaming up Old County Road, I usually find out what’s happening on Facebook. FB is a little like having a scanner (which I don’t), but the scanner is “just the facts, ma’am” and on FB we’re pooling our knowledge (and speculations, and rumors) and trying to figure out what’s going on. Impromptu crowd sourcing, albeit with a relatively small crowd.
If your acquaintance is reasonably worldwide, you can be sure that whatever the hour there’ll be other people playing in the river. If I’m (horrors!) still working at 3 a.m., I’ll find not only insomniac North Americans but Australians who are still wide awake and maybe a Norwegian or a Scot whose day is just getting started. Since two Vineyard friends recently moved to New South Wales, I’ve finally figured out how to calculate the time difference in my head: to local time, add 12 hours then add 2 more hours. It’s 8:25 a.m. on Martha’s Vineyard; it’s 10:25 p.m. in New South Wales. Doing it in two steps makes it easy to keep track of what day it is. This flummoxed me for years.
“Bad Parking on MV” made its FB debut a year or so ago, but I didn’t discover it till this past spring, when “the season” was getting under way. Just in time! Summer also brings an upsurge in bad driving and bad cycling, but bad parking is easier to document without killing yourself.
Group members document it in spades, and comment, sometimes in wonder and often hilariously, on each other’s finds. If you spot a stupendously bad parking job by an expensive late-model car with Connecticut, New York, or New Jersey plates, you’re golden. (Yes, we year-round residents of the seasonally occupied territories have been known to get a little, shall we say, testy during the seasonal occupation.)
The other day I got out of my car at Alley’s. Malvina Forester was between the lines, but she was noticeably crooked. What if we got caught by the Bad Parking paparazzi and wound up on Facebook? I slid back behind the wheel and straightened Malvina out. When I posted this tale to the group, several others confessed that they too were parking more carefully these days. It’s all good.
If Facebook really has, unbeknownst to me, sucked me into the computer, it’s a pretty interesting place to be. A lot like Martha’s Vineyard, now that you mention it.