Friday, August 22, 2008

Graceful Departures

Facebook has become a site for news about rites of passage, particularly entries and exits from specific workplaces. Just today, three separate people passed on news about their de-facto resignations via their status lines.

At one time, quitting was a performative in one's life of labor that was exclusively a one-to-one transaction between worker and boss. But now it is entirely possible to publicize job separations in ways that were difficult to aspire to in the age of print, unless you were Jean-Noël Jeanneney and able to have published a farewell letter to the staff of the BNF, entitled Lettre aux personnels de la Bibliothèque nationale de France au moment de leur dire adieu, a seventy-eight page printed document.

Trickier to interpret is when a Facebook friend updates information to remove matrimonial data. If someone is "no longer listed as married," what does that mean? Divorce? Or simply a choice to put less personal information online? Without a definitive status update, the narrative can be difficult to reconstruct.

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