There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.
Those who are lucky enough to find it, ease like water over a stone, on to its fluid contours, and are home.
Some find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city. (from “Damage” by Josephine Hart)
When completing your Facebook profile, you’re asked to “Add Your Hometown,” a term I’ve always found quite confusing.
Sure, I know what is generally meant by “hometown,” namely the town where we were either born or grew up or both—but why should that particular town/city/hamlet necessarily coincide with the place we percieve as our home?
What ever happened to “home is where the heart is”?
I once heard a psychotherapist on the radio say that as soon as a client of his referred to the place he or she grew up at as “home,” he knew there was “work to be done,” as that person’s umbilical cord had never been properly severed (or something to that effect).
Now, to suggest that home can never be the place where we grew up seems no less ill-conceived a position than to define home as the place where we grew up as if it couldn’t be any other way.
If you could settle down any place on earth, where would it be?
Well, that’s your home, whether you grew up there or not.
Simple isn’t it?
The problem is, if you list as your “hometown” on Facebook a town you didn’t grow up in, most readers will erroneously conclude that you did grew up there, due to the widespread albeit false notion of “home” and “where you grew up” as being synonymous.
It follows that when filling out your Facebook profile, you may actually have to lie—i.e., to knowingly put down incorrect information—in order to avoid coming across as a liar.
Therefore, the folks at Facebook (or anywhere else, for that matter) ought to drop the term “hometown,” as it means different things to different people and hence confounds rather than clarifies.
UPDATE: On The O’Reilly Factor on 14 Oct 2013, Bill O’Reilly referred to Chappaqua, NY, as Hillary Clinton’s “hometown.” (Secretary Clinton was born and raised in Illinois. The Clintons bought their Chappaqua home in 1999.)