Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Facebook Rehab

Facebook Rehab Center in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

“My name is Jennifer, and I’m a Facebookaholic.”

It started out innocently enough.  My husband said, “We’re just going on a nice little surfing trip to Tamarindo.”

With great excitement I had packed up shorts, bathing suits, sunscreen, my surfboard and of course, the most important things of all; my iPhone and iPad.

“Will they have WiFi?” I asked.

He laughed.  “Of course they will.  What do you think Costa Rica is?  A third world country?”

Just think of all the status updates I can make when we get there.  I’ll be checking in at fine restaurants, taking photos of dazzling sunsets, tagging myself in photos with the hot surfer dudes who teach the tourists how to surf.  How envious all my friends at home will be.

But none of that was to be.  When we arrived at the tiny airport in Tamarindo, the twelve-seat airplane coming to a shuddering stop on the cracked asphalt runway, I was surprised to see two burly Costa Rican men in white coats waiting for me.

“It’s for the best,” said my husband as he tried to staunch the flow of tears while the two men hustled me away to the Facebook Rehab Center.

As I mentioned, my name is Jennifer and I’m a Facebookaholic.  I love it all.  Waking up in the morning (sometimes even in the middle of the night) to check my newsfeed, posting status updates about every little emotion I’m having (Jennifer Evans is feeling grateful!), finding friends that I knew back in kindergarten...heck, who am I kidding?  I’m way past the point of even checking to see if I know the person before accepting a friend request.  When I have new friend requests, I always feel a little frisson of adrenaline surge through my bloodstream.

Oh, I’ve tried other things but nothing quite satisfies the way Facebook does.  Twitter (too cryptic)  Instagram (too many photos of babies) Pinterest (way too many crafts) Tumblr (still not sure what that is).

But Facebook!  Ah, just the word makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  The friends, the photos, the instant feedback, the glorious hours and hours of scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.

“Darling, we’re going to have to take all your devices," said the stern Nurse-Ratched look-alike with the dark hair slicked back in a severe bun.

I clutched my bag tight to my body until the two Costa Rican heavies pried it loose.  I was crying, screaming, begging.  “Please!  Not my iPad.  I’m writing a story about Steve Jobs,” I wailed.

And so it began.  While my husband was surfing glassy waves, probably drinking fine red Argentinian wine with dinner while posting a status update about the “Rad waves I got at Witches Rock today!”, I was stuck in that god-forsaken place with Carmen (Android user), Miguel and a few other losers.

Our days consisted of group therapy, vitamin shots, single beds at night with crisp white sheets and in the afternoon, they made us sit on the beach with nothing but a beach towel and a paperback copy of War and Peace.  They had even confiscated my Kindle.

Jesus, Mary and Mark Zuckerburg, how to bust out of that charming facility?

I had noticed the young men who were hovering around the rock wall which surrounded the Facebook Rehab Center.  I watched while they smoked cigarettes, checked their iPhones (my kingdom for a status update) and when one of them motioned me over, I tentatively approached.

“Buenos dias seƱorita,” said one of them while eyeing me intently.  I didn’t think he was that interested in my body as I was wearing the prison-issue shapeless cotton shift, open in the back.

“Me and my friend, we help you.  You have money?”

I told him I did, while reflexively reaching for my iPhone to log into my Bank of America account to show him just how much I had.  Drats!  He was going to have to take my word for it.  We spoke for a few minutes, me in broken Spanish,  and I promised him that it would be well worth his while.  I can only assume that he didn’t have much to lose.  Plans were made to meet by the rock wall at midnight.

Hasta luego,” he said with a smile which showed one gold cap.

When I woke up at eleven-thirty that evening and begged the orderly to let me use the bathroom, well, it was just a matter of distracting him as we walked down the gleaming white hallway.

“Check out that YouTube video!” I said as we passed a computer monitor.  “They’re playing Gangnam Style!”

That was all it took and he was a blathering idiot drooling in front of the computer.  I only needed a few seconds to stealthily remove his keys from his belt loop and I was off and running.

These days, I keep my Location Services feature disabled.  Do you really think I want to go back to the Facebook Rehab?  Not on your life, babe.  So what if I’ve lost my husband, pets, children, job and home?  I’ve got google images and a great imagination.  Am I happy?  You’ll have to check my status update to find out.