January 25

Port City Post: Scolding message from Facebook sparks introspection – then dancing

Using a fake name leads to rejected friend requests, unanswered messages and a feeling of restlessness.

By Jolene McGowan

I got a message from Facebook yesterday that read: “Facebook was created to help friends connect with people they know.” It might as well have read, “Jolene, you are such a dork, stop friend-requesting people you hardly know.”

To access my Facebook account I had to agree to curb my habit of sending friend requests to friends of friends. Embarrassed, I blushed, humiliated, yes, confused, definitely, but in the end I clicked the change-your-behavior-you-loser button and opened my Facebook.

I use a pseudonym on Facebook. I never wanted a Facebook account, but needed one to manage our business page, so I created a fake name.

Little by little, post by post, I started sharing and posting with friends and family. One day my niece, Heidi, called me by my Facebook name, Ginger. I was so touched that I decided right then and there never to change my Facebook name: Ginger Casco.

But because I have a fake name, friends of friends don’t always know who I am. Hence, the Facebook scolding.

Facebook’s scolding included sending me a long list of people who had refused my friend requests – kind of harsh, I thought.

If I haven’t shared this with you before, I’d like to share this with you now: The worst thing you can do to me is ignore me. I’m the friend who needs a response.

Just a quick “got it” or “K” or “huh?” will do. If I don’t hear from you, I feel uneasy and absolutely sure I’ve done something wrong. Unanswered messages leave me restless. Knowing that all these people had chosen to ignore me was brutal.

Let’s face it, we all spend too much time online, and by “we,” I mean we who spend too much time online. All this Facebook shaming got me thinking about how much time I spend online. A lot.

I have a blog, an Instagram account, a Facebook account and a secret Twitter account. Secret, because when I mentioned to my daughter that I might open a Twitter account (like it was something I could apply for), she begged me, like she used to beg for ice cream, not to get one. She didn’t understand that I needed a Twitter account to sign up for Medium, Twitter’s blog site. (This column is a 4 minute read, btw.)

My many online accounts are set up with fake names. Why? I want to be heard, but not really? I want to be noticed, but not really? Some sort of false modesty thing, maybe? Accountability issues, perhaps? The bottom line is, I need to get off-line.

Last Thursday I pulled on my yoga pants, which have turned into my house cleaning pants, and headed out to take an African dance class – a class I return to every eight months in order to prevent atrophy. Live drums, dozens of women and one man (always the same man) welcomed me back.

It was hard, but I made the commitment to return. I paid, as I always do, for several more classes to force the issue of attendance and I met Greta: a 7-foot-tall blond Amazon with perfect, but not too perfect, teeth from Idaho who was taking the African dance class for the first time because the previous Thursday she was busy taking a synchronized swimming class.

A quick history of the things I have been absolutely devoted to for at least eight months: disco (The Hustle), salsa, tango (Argentine), kick boxing (Tae Bo), ballroom dancing, roller blading and hot yoga (first Bikram, then Power).

Greta declared between moves that she will take any dance class, any time. Greta is my new best friend. When the class ended, we shook hands and repeated our names to each other, and then she bent way over so that I could hear her and told me that I had to try Buti. Buti, a cross between yoga and twerking, is Greta’s new favorite thing.

The website www.butiyoga.com describes us, and by “us,” I mean my new Buti friends, as “a tribe coming together to embrace our sexy and share it with the world around us.”

I feel certain that friends of friends of Buti will accept me and never shame and never scold.

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

respondtoportcitypost@gmail.com

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