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On Unclehood and Facebook

November 15, 2007

Over the past 72 hours, I’ve experienced two phenomena unique in my experience. One is an experience that has been shared (or will be shared) by most of humanity at some point, all throughout history. The other is so new that we’ve only just recently coined a term for it. I’ve had some time to try to reflect on these two events, to try to see if there is a common thread or unifying factor. I guess that’s why I’m typing this up, so that by thinking it out this way I can weave the two together.

First off, I’m officially an uncle now. While my parents have been laying claim to grandparentood for some time now, I count any familial relationship wherein one of the parties is still gestating as something less than legit. Not to say that Joshua Anthony Hays was any less of a person on Monday than he was when he emerged into this world on Tuesday, but the miracle of birth is the miracle of revelation. Of revealing something that was heretofore hidden. Nevertheless, I’m an uncle for real now, and the question of legitimacy is forever answered. For all the joking I’ve done over the past nine months about being the cool uncle, the corrupting uncle, (not that I’m going to set that aside) it’s a truly stunning thing to view your sibling’s offspring. Visions of eighteen years of birthday parties, speedy toddlers, t-ball games, and a mountain of diapers fly by so quickly that you can’t be sure if they’re your memories or premonitions of his. It’s a very cool thing, and it’ll be a sight to see as he grows older.

One of the first things that I thought (as a compulsive nicknamer) is what he’ll go by. I’ve been Rob to my friends since elementary school, Robert professionally until just recently, and never, ever Bob or Robbie (except for two people, and you know who you are). So will Joshua Anthony be a Josh or a Joshua? There is a difference, and it’s honestly up to him. Certainly at some point in his life he’ll be able to introduce himself however he wants, but by the time he has that sort of autonomy, the descision will by-and-large already be made; I introduce myself as Rob because I identify myself as a Rob, moreso than as a Robert. In the same way, once my nephew reaches adulthood, he’ll introduce himself with the name that best fits him and his self-identity. But until he can dictate that nomenclature for himself, his actions now will determine what people call him. Seriously. You can look at a baby and see if they deserve a proper name, or a more casual nickname based on their personality and approach to this bizarre outside world into which they’ve been forced. I for one hope he’s a Josh, but that’s up to him.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I took what is probably the least significant significant step in a relationship ever. Since the advent of Facebook, there have been a mulititude of uses and reasons for using their annoyingly simple interface. I use it to keep up with old college friends, network for work, and see what bands I like are coming to town. One odd side effect of this new tool is that it allows you to track the relationship status of your friends. Now, with most of my friends, I already know if they’re dating or married or not, and if so to whom. But for the people that I don’t see on a consistent basis, it is kinda cool to be able to stay in the loop on that aspect of their life without having to dial that pesky phone thing.

I’ve been involved in a relationship for something approaching three months now, and until recently have not filled in the relationship status area of my profile. Why? Partly because it seemed like a silly arbiter of the health of the relationship, and partly because it was a kind of sticky issue when the relationship was less settled than it is now; it’s the same reasons I’ve used for not blogging about her until now. But since my relationship with Michelle has become comfortable to a degree that I couldn’t have imagined this summer, I figured, “why the hell not?”. Also, it did become apparent to me that there were some (albiet minor) consequences for leaving things ambiguious: a good-natured friend of mine at work recently offered to set me up with a friend of his who had apparently taken a liking to me after we met at a party. Under other circumstances, it would’ve been an opportunity I might’ve pursued, and it definitely was a kind gesture on his part; but since he and I are both active on Facebook, the ambiguity opened the possibility that I was open to being set up. So now that that’s been cleared up, I can also state that it does make me quite proud to be associated with Michelle in a semi-public context like FB. While I’m even more proud to be seen with her in public, it does also put a little spring in my online step to know that she’s virtually beside me along the way.

So now I’ve reached the end of my thoughts without truly connecting the two topics. Maybe that’s for the best: no connection is likely better than a tenuous one. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it: I’ll leave the sleep deprivation to Rick and Crystal.

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One comment

  1. Wow, you’re facebook-dating now, player? I’ll bet you’d hold hands on the first date, too…



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