Winnie-the-Pooh checks in: What happens when Facebook arrives in the Hundred Acre Wood
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Friendship," said Christopher Robin, "is a very comforting thing to have."
It is indeed a very comforting thing, though I wonder what might have happened to those beloved friendships in the Hundred Acre Wood had Facebook infiltrated Christopher Robin's imagination.
Instead of a young boy and his friends discovering the ups and downs of the world in their unhurried and innocent manner -- learning to give, forgive and just "be" -- I'm afraid Pooh Bear et al would have turned into insular creatures stuffed with fluff, but not much else. Their friendships hijacked by Facebook and the temptations of the digital world, they would fail to grow, learn and love.
A.A. Milne would need to rewrite his treasured stories, and what sorry stories they would be.
Tigger, once concerned only with doing what Tiggers do best, would instead become addicted to sharing status updates on his latest adventures in bouncing. Before long, the addiction would be so strong that status updates would replace the 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 would latch on to Facebook, using it as a never-ending forum to wallow in his misery. He'd inevitably try to cajole encouraging posts from his online friends by sharing vague and frightening status 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 friendship he so desperately needed. Attention-getting updates would take its place, like an addict needing a fix.
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 online and join the bottom-feeders whose anonymity gives them the courage to post crude, callous and unconstructive criticism.
And so it would be throughout all the Hundred Acre Wood. Rabbit would post pictures of his dinner every night: a lonely plate of carrots. Owl would post what wonderful kind of tea he is sipping, or boast how far he flew earlier in the day.
I picture Pooh and Christopher Robin sitting on opposite sides of a log, their heads hunched over as they tap away on their smart phones. Neither one is aware of the other until Pooh "checks in" at the log. Christopher Robin, noticing on his phone that Pooh checked in, looks up to discover his acquaintance on the log. Perhaps they even nod to one another before going back to their phones.
It is said the value placed on the anticipated Facebook IPO later this spring could reach $100 billion. Such an enormous figure stands in stark contrast to the value we place on our friendships.
Which is why today I am committing digital suicide, and I encourage you to join with me. I am deleting my Facebook account, and venturing into the Hundred Acre Wood.
Perhaps we'll cross paths, and who knows, maybe we'll become friends.
First Published April 22, 2012 12:00 am