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February '09: A Month So Bad, I Joined Facebook

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February has always been the worst month. It has one holiday devoted to a rodent predicting the weather, and another devoted to reminding single people they have no right to be happy. It's the month where we mark black history with simplistic Hallmark specials and sales on grape soda. January brings the excitement of a new year, but that dawn isn't realized until March, when spring begins. February is the cold, dark void in between. Football is over, baseball hasn't started, and basketball and hockey are months from a climax. Perhaps worst of all February is a cruel month, toying with us by occasionally adding an extra day to prolong the agony.

Of all the Februarys, however, this last one was the worst. Times got tough after our economic zeppelin crashed into that iceberg last fall, but when you combined the economy with February's customary malaise, it became dark times indeed. When I told other people that I'd felt a bit down recently, they acted relieved to hear they weren't alone. In the last few weeks at least a half dozen friends have told me they're depressed, and they aren't even all unemployed.

If that dumb groundhog had actually predicted the forthcoming month correctly he would have come out of his hole, popped a Xanax, downed a fifth of whiskey, and puked on Al Roker.

So what to do to chase the February '09 blues away? Well anything that passes time seemed like a good starting point, so I went to the place that friends say is the biggest time suck in history: Facebook. I had been holding out for a while, partly out of stubbornness and partly out of an aversion to awkward interactions with people I barely remember. Then some time in mid-February I just did it, with little fanfare or forethought, an out-of-body experience of sorts. Lately it seems like everyone's wandering around in a daze. I wandered on to Facebook.

Because I had waited so long, immediately upon signing up, I was greeted with messages to the effect of, "Haha sucker, you caved, I knew you'd join! I was right, I win!!"

I suddenly felt the urge to post, "Thanks friends, way to help a brother out during the worst month ever. Are you really that impressed with yourselves? You successfully predicted that I would do the most popular thing in the history of civilization. Congrats." Clearly my first night on Facebook hadn't started well.

The next morning I awoke to an inbox full of friend requests and decided this social networking thing might not be all bad. I found out a woman I went to college with is now a Cultural Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, which might mean she takes over the title of My Most Impressive Friend.

Facebook is cool enough, although I have not become obsessed the way many of my friends have. I don't care what you ate for breakfast, you don't care what I ate for breakfast, let's not pretend. And I can't stand needy status updates that beg you for a response, things like "So-and-so is glad he survived the scariest experience of his life last night." (Oh my, what in the world could have happened?!) If you're well enough to update your Facebook status, you're fine.

If nothing else, however, Facebook sucked time out of my days and brought me to the end of February faster. March Madness begins on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, a holiday perfectly suited to our current predicament. The first day of spring is March 20th. I don't expect our nation's economic fortunes to improve any time soon, but at least we can watch the market tank with a beer and a tan.