A New Etiquette
I just deleted 450 “friends” on Facebook. Yes. I. Did. When reflecting on the type of public my daughter is entering, I realized that I didn’t want her information so accessible to the world. She needs to decide if she wants that, not her mother. AAM and I both agree that her face should not be pictured on the blog, but when I started thinking about Facebook, I realized I was friends with so many people from my past who I never see or talk to. So, I made a hard and fast rule. If I have not emailed with the person or seen them since AAM and I were married five years ago, that there was no need to be fake friends with them on Facebook. I took out the politeness and used logic to help me deal with such a large problem. Some deletes were difficult, whereas others were just clicks. Some perceive this as rude, but there are boundaries we need to maintain, and in the past the private was respected. In real life, I enjoy my time with a really wonderful, but small, group. This is a purposeful act on my part, as I matured I realized that one should not overextend themselves to have a quantity of friendships, when it is the quality of a friendship that is essential. With the Facebook deletes, it wasn’t personal, but the deletes were just necessary to maintain some privacy in a public space, a new Internet etiquette.
When I think of etiquette, I think of setting the table. This was always my job as a child, and it overwhelmed me. I used to flip objects around in my head often, and remembering where to put the fork, spoon and knife was really hard for me. So, like all quirky things I did then, I made up an imaginary story about how the knife was really mean and stole the spoon from the fork and his trusty stead the napkin. It worked, and is still what I say in my head. Don’t get me started on how I remembered addition and subtraction. I am pretty sure my elementary school teachers thought I was day dreaming, but I was really trying to remember which number was friends with which.
Setting the table creates a sense of beauty around food, and invites people to linger over discussion. Last night, we hosted ML and her boyfriend PT, and the four of us enjoyed some arancini with wine. Our tiny table suited us for years, and it has special tradition attached to it because it was my Great Aunts, but it started to feel cramped last night. It fits very little, so of course it is perfect for our old house, but starting to to feel less comfortable as we spend more time dining at home. We are looking for a new house, and the idea of having a dining room has started us talking about what type of table we would like. Five years ago, I would have said something of a traditional Queen Anne style. To me, that reminded me of the dining etiquette AAM and I were both raised learning. However, as society changes, there are many ways to strike a good balance of a casual enjoyment and formal dinner parties. Since both of us work, we are almost too busy for a formal coursed dinner party. Additionally, we live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, so the house we can afford will be small. The dining room (in fact, all the rooms) needs to be used for millions of purposes. In line with not wanting to waste space, we don’t want to waste materials; we are looking at sturdy tables made of wood scraps. We want a table that people will linger, laugh, enjoy, and be familial. We are looking for a new dining etiquette.
So, as Serafina grows, I examine my interactions with others and the traditions we are creating. I hope we are able to capture the traditions our families gave us, but allow ourselves to evolve with the time. As I pare down the facebook friends and the dinner formality, I allow more time to enjoy fantastic food with my family and friends. And, hopefully Serafina can add to my story about the fork and the knife, I have always wondered why they didn’t get along.