Not so very long ago, back in the days when people still communicated with ink and paper, Christmas brought with it the Christmas letter.
Christmas letters were horrid things, endless lists of Where I Vacationed and My Latest Diseases and Proof That My Children Are More Successful Than Yours. It was bleak, poring through these epistles: "And in July, our 14 year old toy poodle, Mister Bumpkins, came face-to-snout with Jesus. We're still grieving, but with time and prayer and several hundred hours of intense counseling, we're learning to cope."
The problem with Christmas letters is that, with very, very, very few exceptions, you already know what's going on in the lives of the people you care about, and you really don't care about what's going on in the others' lives, so what's the point?
Facebook is like receiving hundreds of Christmas letters, every day of the week, every hour of the day, for the rest of your life. It's agony, the endless navel-gazing banality of it all. For every legitimate piece of news -- "I got accepted to grad school," "the baby's fine," "the biopsy was negative" -- there are hundreds, possibly thousands of "I'm so bored" and "I am eating pie" and "help me win in Mafia Wars."
I don't know what Mafia Wars is, and I don't want to ever find out.
There are a few things that should stay private. Bowel movements. Romantic histories. Political opinions. It's all there on Facebook, pinned to a wall and inviting our comment. The last tattered shreds of Decency and Circumspection and Decorum, the stuff that was assaulted by Phil Donahue, brutalized by Oprah Winfrey, and subjected to the Unspeakable by Maury Povich and Jerry Springer and a host of imitators have been gathered up by Facebook, doused with jet fuel, and set aflame. We stand shameless, a world of exhibitionists, naked as a "special guest" on the Howard Stern Show.
So don't sit on the edge of your computer chair, waiting for me to update my status.