09 Mar

Facebook Infiltrates the Hundred Acre Wood

“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.