Michael T. Dolan

Writings, Reflections, and Commentaries

Facebook Infiltrates the Hundred Acre Wood

Posted on | March 9, 2012 | 9 Comments

“Yearning to go back to the ways of Christopher Robin” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Friendship,” said Christopher Robin, “is a very comforting thing to have.”

It is indeed, though I wonder what might have happened to those beloved friendships in the Hundred Acre Wood if Facebook had infiltrated Christopher Robin’s imagination.

Instead of a boy and his friends discovering the ups and downs of the world in their unhurried, innocent manner – learning to give, forgive, and just “be” along the way – I’m afraid Pooh Bear et al. would turn into insular creatures stuffed with fluff, but not much else. With their friendships hijacked by Facebook and the other temptations of the digital world, they would fail to grow, learn, and love.

A.A. Milne would have to rewrite his treasured stories – and what sorry stories they would become.

Tigger, once concerned only with doing what Tiggers do best, would become addicted to posting Facebook status updates on his latest adventures in bouncing. Before long, the addiction would be so strong that status updates would replace bouncing altogether. He’d soon forget that he was put on this Earth to bounce and brighten the days of those he encountered along the way, and the Hundred Acre Wood would be a much quieter place.

Simply reading “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” in a status update can’t brighten anyone’s day.

Eeyore, meanwhile, would latch onto Facebook as a forum for wallowing endlessly in his misery. He would inevitably try to cajole encouraging posts from his online “friends” by sharing vaguely frightening updates: “The gloomiest of gloomy days . . .”

A flurry of comments would follow from the likes of Pooh and friends, but not much would change. Hiding behind his computer, Eeyore would never really discover the friendships he so desperately needs. An addiction to attention-getting updates would take their place.

Piglet, too nervous to venture outside, would confine himself to his beech tree and spend his days and nights as an online voyeur. Following the exploits and adventures of his virtual companions, he might occasionally summon the courage to “like” or “share” a post. He’d troll the Internet along with the bottom-feeders whose anonymity gives them the courage to post crude, callous, and unconstructive criticism.

And so it would be throughout the Hundred Acre Wood. Rabbit would post pictures of his dinner every night: a lonely plate of carrots. Owl would idly share boasts about the wonderful kind of tea he was sipping or how far he had flown earlier in the day.

And Winnie-the-Pooh? I picture Pooh and Christopher Robin sitting on opposite sides of a log, hunched over cellphones as they tap away at them. Neither one is aware of the other until Pooh “checks in” at the log. Christopher Robin, noticing on his phone that Pooh has checked in, looks up to discover his acquaintance on the log. Perhaps they even nod to one another before going back to their phones.

These scenes may seem ridiculous, but if we insert ourselves in place of Milne’s characters, we get an all-too-familiar look at where we’ve let our relationships go.

It is said that the value of Facebook’s initial public offering this spring could reach $100 billion. That enormous figure stands in stark contrast to the value we now place on our friendships.

Which is why today I am committing digital suicide by deleting my Facebook account. I encourage you to join me and venture into the Hundred Acre Wood. Perhaps we’ll cross paths, and – who knows? – maybe we’ll become friends.

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9 Responses to “Facebook Infiltrates the Hundred Acre Wood”

  1. Karyn Heym
    March 9th, 2012 @ 2:30 PM

    Like it! And this is not just a fakebook response that I just clicked on. Thanks Mike, I hope people read your column and actually think about it.

  2. Holly Anzuena
    March 9th, 2012 @ 3:16 PM

    My favorite article of yours yet. Beautifully written (as always) and so true (sadly). Heather and I were just discussing the pitfalls of Facebook. Definitely makes you think – am I cultivating more friendships or alienating the close ones I have? It becomes a habit – checking and re-checking. It’s nice to keep up with people you might not see on a regular basis, and have a basic knowledge of what’s going on in everyone’s lives, but then what? And is that necessary or even a good idea? I’ve reconnected with a few people that I’m proud to say have gone beyond the casual Facebook message and extended to a home visit, phone call, etc. But on the whole, I’m not sure of the benefits anymore. Definitely something to think about. Thanks, Mike.

  3. Jackson Dog
    March 9th, 2012 @ 6:34 PM

    woof woof woof, well put. please delete my email address and facebook page too. You know us dogs just want to sniff butts and pee on fire hydrants all day.

  4. Austin
    March 9th, 2012 @ 8:34 PM

    Mike,
    I knew a professor who each semester would face a filled classroom of young college students. Then, the inevitable happened. His roster grew to the extent that he was assigned an auditorium to accomodate the crowds. I asked him the reason for his popularity. His response was filled with simplicity and accuracy. “I give them the basics and they think I’m a genius.” You are a genius in more ways than that, for you have given us the wisdom to sit back, reflect upon the moment, and to remember the real friends who have helped us to BE who we are, without the use of a gimick that tends to swallow personal contact where friendships mature out of live emotional concerns rather than the tap of facebook keys.
    Mike, thanks for the reminder.

  5. Bobbi
    March 10th, 2012 @ 2:07 PM

    Thank you, Michael, for this sensitive and important editorial. As someone who works with children in a performing arts center, I send my applause and thanks for getting this message to the public. The children at Wolf Performing Arts Center learned all about friendship from the expert himself, A.A. Milne, when they performed in a production of Winnie-the-Pooh last December. They talked to each other, laughed together, and shared pieces of their life without using texting of any kind! I have cut out your editorial and will place in a prominent spot at our center.
    Bravo, Michael!

  6. Michael
    March 12th, 2012 @ 11:30 AM

    Amen….how many strolls in the park hikes in the woods..and quiet sittings by a stream have been replaced by an app……

    The best part of the hundred acre woods….is actually going out and discovering them…..when we stop imagining them…they cease to exist….

  7. Christopher Robin Kieran
    March 22nd, 2012 @ 7:55 PM

    Christopher Robin would see how lonely his friends became and he would find a way to get his friends offline, like I do with zokos.com.

    As someone who has always been nicknamed “Christopher Robin,” I like to think that Christopher Robin would not fall prey to Facebook isolation. Like I’ve done, he would see Facebook for what it truly is—an underlying social infrastructure that we can use to make our real lives better. Now that we’re finally comfortable with our online identities, we’re bored with online socializing. It’s time to use all the connectivity we get from Facebook to facilitate better offline interactions.

    Imagine Rabbit—rather than eating dinner alone, Rabbit would invite Christopher Robin and friends to join in a dinner party. I don’t think the story would be so sad. I think Christopher Robin would rise above and start a dinner party revolution! He would make something like zokos.com and help people collaborate to share the cost of social occasions, so we could all afford to get together more often.

  8. Terry(Grammy)Taylor
    April 22nd, 2012 @ 6:11 PM

    Just finished reading this in The Pittsburgh Press and found it speaks VOLUMES about how our world has been invaded by the Internet, Facebook etc.
    While I applaud being able to use the Internet to find out anything I need to know quickly, I am increasingly in despair that my grandchildren cannot seem to disconnect from Facebook or their “smart” phones.
    Soon there will be a whole generatio of people who will not even know where POOH CORNER is, unless,of course, someone makes a “page” on Facebook.
    This was a well written piece and I’d share it on Facebook, but I fear it has entirely too many words.
    APPLAUSE to you,Mr. Dolan !

  9. Danielle Boyd
    May 18th, 2012 @ 2:46 PM

    I’ve tried before to delete my facebook, just because I have no respect for Mark Zuckerberg after his plots and schemes to make money.
    But I have not been able to successfully delete it. how do I delete it ?

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