Earlier this week, we stumbled upon Zen Garage’s post about a 2010 performance art piece by Marina Abramovic at her MoMa retrospective, in which she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Back in the 70s, she had an intense love affair with a fellow artist by the name of Ulay, but after a twelve year relationship they decided to part ways by walking towards each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China, meeting in the middle and saying goodbye, never to see each other again. During her performance at MoMa, Ulay showed up unexpectedly as just another museum goer, sitting across from her for one minute in silence, sharing an intense emotional connection, and then quietly walking away:
We tweeted this week that this video is a metaphor for Facebook. Here’s why:
Facebook has gotten a lot of flack for being a marriage killer — exes get in touch, rekindle old flames, and leave their current partners in order to chase dreams of the past. Sure, it happens. But what probably happens more often than not is that exes get in touch via Facebook, exes who once had a strong emotional connection and shared big identity-forming moments and created unique feelings in one another that have never — could never — be recreated. The once-couple exchange a cordial message or two, updating each other on the big life experiences that have happened since the break or even just in recent years. Or maybe no messages are exchanged: they simply become Facebook friends who occasionally view each other’s info and updates. Either way, not much is said; actually, nothing is said. Not out loud at least. Because what can really be said? The reconnection on Facebook is usually just a fleeting thing, where both parties are transported back in time together, back to when they were both completely different people made of entirely different atoms. There is a joint yet unacknowledged yearning for youth and innocence and lost time — but none of that can be regained. And so, eventually, and often fairly quickly, the two drift apart again, letting any kind of meaningful correspondence wane (if it ever began in the first place), forgetting more and more about the past, hiding updates, unfriending, or simply getting off Facebook. It’s simultaneously so beautiful and moving and pathetic and depressing, that it could make a person cry. Just like Marina does.