Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Quantum Facebook, Newtonian Perceptions

I have been trying to use Facebook as a way of connecting with each of the significant phases of my life. Don't know why, really. Just an exercise, I guess. But how cool would it be to be able to say I've got Facebook friends that represent my primary school, my secondary school, college, where I've worked at various times, people from my time in Australia and Hong Kong, that kind of thing? If I had access to people from each main phase of my life, maybe I would feel that the past was not so completely out of my control. Maybe I would feel that by accessing the past, I could change the future. Why not? Newton's 'clockwork universe' has been debunked by quantum mechanics and chaos theory, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle suggests that observing something changes it. By observing people from the past, the possibility exists that the past is not fixed, or at the least its perception exists in a fluid state, a waveform that can be collapsed at will by the simple act of reconnecting with people I once knew.

I've had the same policy with all my hunts: prioritise those with the most unusual names. I hate paging through loads of people with the same name, especially as there are so many with profile pictures that look nothing like them. The ones with motorbikes or Optimus Prime, their kids or their house are impossible to tie back to someone's personality, if you've not seen them for decades. There was one guy who had a greyhound as his photo, and I knew he used to like greyhounds, so I tried him and that worked out OK, but generally, if I don't recognise the face, I don't bother trying any harder.

So I've been racking my brains trying to remember not just people from my past, but also people who had the name that was easiest to find. There was one girl from my secondary school that I was able to find because she had a very unusual Greek name, at least in my life. It's probably less rare in Athens. Let's call her 'Anita Christodopolous'. I found her months ago and put a big mental tick on the file marked 'secondary school' - her photo was consistent with 25 years of ageing on top of my memory of how she looked: dark eyes, big dark hair, her 40 year old self retaining the beauty that I remember her for but recasting it based on her knowledge of who she had become, and also of motherhood - many of her posts mentioned her child.

I was stunned then, to find out yesterday that I had the wrong 'Anita Christodopolous'. I'd commented on a photo of her, saying 'you're so lucky - you've not changed since Christchurch' (my school) and she sent me one back saying 'what is Christchurch?'. Apparently there are two girls with the same name who look like the girl of my memories, two women who look like that girl a quarter of a century later.

Maybe 'Christodopolous' is not as rare a name as I thought. I know 'Anita' isn't - I went to school with several Greek or Cypriot girls of that name.

So now I'm racking my brains trying to think of other people I went to school with who aren't called 'Darren Roberts' or 'Bob Smith' or any of the names that have hundreds of Facebook users.

My impossible quest continues...

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