Up until a week ago, I thought Facebook was all about faces - given the site's name and all, you can probably understand where I was coming from. But, if I've learned one thing over the years, it's that life is full of surprises - and some of them are downright doppelgängers.
Facebook is a well-used online social networking utility. Most people probably know this, unless they have been vacationing on another planet for the last two years, or are as technologically challenged as me. If this pertains to you, I hope you have been vacationing.
Despite my shortcomings, I am a Facebook member - signed up and official. I've reconnected with friends, neighbors, cousins and long-lost college roommates through this online tool. Facebook even counts my friends for me. I can't complain.
And I won't, because this week Facebook did something that I never dreamed possible. It introduced me to something new and beautiful: the word, "doppelgänger."
Facebook may be all about faces, but I am all about words. I deal with words for a living; they are like my friends. I don't believe I've ever met a word that's more friend-worthy than doppelgänger. It's like a song and poem wrapped in just four simple, yet glorious syllables.
I discovered this one-word tribute to modern language a few days ago, and it's been tripping off my tongue ever since. Doppelgänger. Doppelgänger. Doppelgänger.
It's fun to say and fun to hear - two of my requirements for linguistic distinction. It immediately went into my collection of word favorites, along with entries like labyrinth, discombobulation, twyndyllyng, and heterozygous. They all have a special place in my heart. Not quite as magical as the tintinnabulation of Edgar Allen Poe's bells of course, but with Poe, we require a phrase to make word magic.
Doppelgänger stands on its own. It is unique, combining consonants that keep the lips and tongue busy with vowels that just feel right.
I saw it there on my Facebook page and was smitten.
It didn't matter that I had no idea what the word meant. The cadence had me hooked at "dop." The letters spun around in my brain as I pondered possible dictionary definitions:
Doppelgänger: An illegal alien from Canada, traveling without a passport.
Doppelgänger: A new breed of dog made by crossing a Great Dane and a Dachshund - known for its speed and ability to limbo.
Doppelgänger: An advanced weather radar system that tracks changes in precipitation along with the flight patters of migrating geese.
Doppelgänger: A maneuver used in figure skating that combines the techniques of the triple toe loop, lutz and salchow jump.
Doppelgänger: A person who claims to be a registered member of both the republican and democratic political parties.
My imagination was into overtime when I finally looked up the word odyssey in the dictionary.
Facebook wasn't veering too far from its roots when introducing us to doppelgänger; the word has a lot to do with faces. Most of the information I found (okay, all the information) defines doppelgänger as an evil ghostly twin. Facebook apparently redefined that definition to mean a celebrity twin. Is our favorite social networking utility trying to say something (other than doppelgänger) about celebrities here? Your guess is as good as mine.
Facebook asked members to post their doppelgängers, and it's amazing how many people think they look like Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts. Hardly anyone has a Billy Joel or Susan Boyle doppelgänger. Interesting. I do have one friend who believes he resembles an orange Muppet, but that's a whole other article.
As for me, I was convinced that I didn't look like anyone famous; in other words, I was doppelgängerless. Then a good friend sent me a photo of Mike Myers playing the character of Austin Powers in The Spy Who Shagged Me, suggesting he was my doppelgänger. She thought I looked like a man! I didn't know what to think. Everyone knows I'm not Mike Myers, don't they?
But then again with a new friend like doppelgänger - who cares? (Oh yeah, baby!)