BB pal Lissa Soep, research director at Youth Radio, recently contributed a short audio commentary to NPR's Day to Day about Facebook, nostalgia, and midlife monogamy. I found it to be a very thoughtful, personal, and provocative piece. Lissa's story has a happy ending, but I know of several relationships that were demolished by a Facebook blast-from-the-past. From Lissa's piece:
With so many people my age riding Facebook like a time-machine to our past lives and loves, you might expect the site would be breaking up marriages, or at least unleashing all sorts of digital infidelity. Some of that is happening."Facebook And The Over-30 Crowd"
But what I'm seeing among some fellow oldsters on Facebook is the opposite.We've got a new through-line to our former selves, and that's re-awakening a feeling of desire–and desirability–that might actually strengthen midlife monogamy.
Sure, it's dangerous. Once you've friended an ex, you get to glimpse all these evocative fragments. A photo of him in front of sand dunes, squinting into the sun. The revelation that her favorite quote is Nietzsche's "Without music, life would be a mistake." Here's this person maybe you fooled around with in your parents' bed, or pulled an all-nighter with to finish a take-home exam. Now you're flashing back to all that with a teething child upstairs and a mound of work and let's say you haven't had sex with your spouse in two weeks. The mix of nostalgia and surveillance is disorienting. But it can also create a digital spark longterm partners need. It can reconnect us with who we are by helping us remember who we once were… and who we wanted to be.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.