A while ago I received an e-mail from Facebook announcing that my husband’s ex-wife would like to be my friend. After the shockwaves subsided, I had two thoughts: “Why?” and “What do I do now?”
It felt weird to receive this request — almost creepy. For weeks my finger hovered over “Accept” or “Decline.” Every time I went online, a notification popped up, beating me over the head to make a decision. It felt small-minded and petty to push the Decline button, but to Accept and have my husband’s ex-wife privy to my Facebook page made me feel as if someone were riffling through my underwear drawer. Not that this particular underwear drawer has much in it — my Facebook page is covered with other people’s posts and I still have the generic white silhouette instead of a glamour photo on my profile. I don’t post and I don’t want to.
Then there was the question of “why?” Some people are good friends with ex-wives. I’m not one of them. It’s not that I don’t like her — it’s more that we don’t have complementary personalities. I’m Northern California born and bred and she’s Orange County in every possible way. I wanted to tell her that my Facebook would be a waste of time because I never put anything on it, but then I would have had to contact her.
I consulted my real, not virtual friends. The consensus was just push Accept. So I did. Two days later I mentioned my dilemma to a writer friend and he said he had Facebook friend requests that were two years old — he just ignored them. Dang.
It was one of those things I wouldn’t have had to deal with in the previous millennium.
Another current millennium dilemma comes up when the satellite guy tells you that you need to get rid of a few trees in order to watch Breaking Bad or to be connected to the rest of the world … and you live in a forest. Chop down a perfectly healthy 150-foot pine whose only crime is shedding pine parts and providing shade and oxygen in order to Facebook with your husband’s ex-wife? That’s a no-brainer decision there, but what if you need Internet access for your job? And if it’s not just one tree? What is the tree whacking to entertainment satisfaction ratio?
Then there is the increasing prevalence of motion sensor faucets, soap and towel dispensers. I call them the “wave and waits.” You go to wash your hands in a public restroom and spend a few minutes waving your hands under the faucet, searching for the sweet spot that triggers the water flow. I’ve waved up and down, side to side, over and out, looking for that spot. Then you repeat the waving and waiting for the soap dispenser and the towels. It’s like a magic trick that doesn’t always work. I always want to say “Shazham!”
In a Sacramento airport restroom, I saw a young girl who knew that she was supposed to wash her hands, but she couldn’t figure out how to turn the water on. I showed her and she thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially since the soap worked that way too. The towel dispenser did not and it was kind of fun watching her wave her hands under it, waiting for the towel to appear until I set her straight.
In another airport, a bored teenager watched me waving and waiting fruitlessly. As I moved to the next faucet, she sauntered over and demonstrated to poor, technologically challenged me, the proper technique of waving for water. The magic did not work; no water gushed forth. She tried the expert technique again and again while I snickered wickedly under my breath and washed my hands, having already figured out that the faucet was broken. It was quite satisfying to watch her.
Automatic faucets wouldn’t have been much of an issue in the last millennium, but the triumph of age and common sense over youth and technology is pretty much a timeless thrill.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.