Friday, January 02, 2009

the mormon church: facebook of the ‘80s

1. it would be nice, for once, if just one person i grew up with had gotten fat, but no, that’s not how they do things in manhattan beach

My sister’s best friend from elementary school just Facebook-friended me, so I’m now updated on the fact that she is as tall and gorgeous as ever, is married with a cute little boy, threw some sort of New Year’s Eve party that her friends declared really fun…and is a member of “I Support the California ProtectMarriage Constitutional Amendment.”

This isn’t a big shocker because H is Mormon—as in blonde, one-of-five siblings, never-drank-soda-at-my-sister’s-birthday-parties Mormon. In case I sound like one of those anti-Prop. 8 Mormon-haters, I should add that H’s entire family was always incredibly nice. My sister spent so much time at our local Mormon temple—which was always putting on awesome kid-friendly events—that there was a time when I thought, Maybe when I grow up, if I’m not married and don’t have any friends, I’ll become Mormon and everything will be built right in.

In those pre-Facebook days, I saw the Mormon temple as the ultimate social networking site. Of course, the reason I was worried, as young as 11, about growing and not being married was because a little part of me knew I was gay. (As a chronic worrier, I also found my mom’s advice—“If you want to get married, you’ll get married”— suspiciously simplistic. Surely someone got left without a chair when the music stopped. Why not the girl with the big nose and bad bangs?)

So yeah, becoming a Mormon wouldn’t have really helped. Not even with the hair.

2. facebook is the real “social experiment” here

But my thoughts at the moment are about H’s thoughts when she befriended me. I know my Info page is a little cluttered, but did she see that I’m a member of such groups as “One Million Strong For Marriage Equality” and “Gay Families Are Not a ‘Plague’”? At the very least she must have seen my relationship status.

So were her motives:
  • Conversion?
  • Conciliation?
  • Spying on the other side?
  • Pluralism?
  • Pent-up libertarianism?
  • Love-the-sinner-ism?
  • Oh-well-she’s-Cathy’s-sister-ism?
  • The-election-is-so-November-’08-ism?
  • Actually-reading-text-on-people’s-pages-is-so-2003-ism?
AK was involved in an evangelical Christian student group in college—many of whose alumni are totally anti-8, for the record—so she’s had a bit more experience negotiating Facebook politics than I have (and by politics, I mean actual politics, not whether it’s okay to write on someone’s Wall in lieu of returning a phone call).

Sometimes she has engaged in healthy debates, which have gotten less healthy at moments but ultimately changed a few minds. Other times she’s decided to avoid the shittiness of reading people’s right-wing status updates and de-friended folks.

In a way, I think Facebook is a cool and interesting place to see all these issues play out. Less high-stakes than a dinner table, less anonymous than a message board. In another way, I think anything that lures me away from playing endless rounds of Scramble via the Scramble application is a good thing.

I accepted H’s friend request—it never really occurred to me not to. And maybe it never really occurred to her not to send me one. But I probably wouldn’t have sent her a request to after seeing she was a member of that group. Because I would have assumed she’d reject me on principle? Because I was too good for a hater? I’m not sure. The annoying thing is, as with the election itself, the ball is always in their court.


Peter Varvel said...

My current and recent friends didn't understand why my facebook status statement blared, "Peter came screaming out of the closet and is gayer than a rhinestone encrusted purple fanny-pack."
Well, DUH, they all said.
That statement was for the benefit of my church friends from my Christian past (pre-out of the closet days) that had been adding me as a friend on fb.
So far, no problems.
Still . . . Should we be just as respectful and accepting of their beliefs and causes as we want them to be of ours, even on such issues as prop 8?
I think so. Agree to disagree. That's hard to remember, sometimes.

Tracy Lynn said...

I was going to say pretty much what Peter said, except about the fanny pack.

I have friends who disagree with me on many things that are important. Respect and tolerance have to go both ways, or the whole thing is pointless.

Cheryl said...

PV: Even though agreeing to disagree can be tricky--because sometimes it can trivialize things that are really important--I think Prez Obama is showing us there's a way to be conciliatory and actively progressive at the same time. I also really hope you own an actual purple rhinestone-encrusted fanny pack because that would be awesome.

TL: It's also the best way to not be one of those boring, sheltered jerks who only has clones as friends.

Erin said...

I grew up Mormon - it never helped me with the whole "cute Mormon girl thing" - I was always around them, but I fell short in the looks, the singing, the baking of bread, the canning of preserves etc etc. The No on 8 protests at the temple is almost too much for me, as I have to continually calm my 72 year old Mormon mom down about the gay community. I am always walking that line.

Cheryl said...

Wait, I was thinking you were one of my Bay Area Erins, but unless I know way less about them (you?) than I think, you are a new Erin. Welcome! Bread and Bread is apparently very popular among Erins.