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April 22, 2009

A face-off with my past

Stephanie Gorski wants to be my Facebook friend. Thing is, last time I talked to Stephanie Gorski I was 10 years old. Now suddenly she’s back in my life, or trying to be anyway. 

It’s mean to admit, but I didn’t much like Stephanie Gorski when we were in the fourth grade. Why on earth would I want to be her friend now? I’m sure she’s changed, having aged nearly 30 years since our last encounter, but still.

This is the fact that eludes multitudes of people who every freaking day are attempting to reconnect and “friend” me. Not just genuine long-lost pals mind you, but short-lived acquaintances and other ships I passed at some point in the night.

For all this I can thank Facebook, the highly intrusive and voyeuristically quirky social-networking website. On Facebook, acquaintances and even strangers masquerade as “friends” and dish out a near-constant stream of personal tidbits (that is, of course, once you’ve “accepted” them into your e-circle) that once were, and in many instances still should be, considered private.

Basically, Facebook creates opportunities for one massive overshare.

Massive indeed. As of two weeks ago, Facebook registered its 200 millionth active user. The fastest growing demographic? People between the ages of 35 and 54.

Just be careful what you wish for. I set up a Facebook account as a business-marketing tool. Now the Mafia is after me.

Not in the Don Corleone horse’s head sense, but the Mafia nevertheless. About a month ago I “befriended” the Louisville Music Mafia. Soon I began receiving messages two and three times a day. 

Therein lies the power of Facebook. It’s easy to befriend but not to de-friend. Do you really hit “ignore” when faced with a query from someone you don’t care for — or worse yet, a “frienemy”?

Yes. So I have before and will again click “ignore,” thereby banishing the potential friend a la Napoleon Bonaparte.

Once I even pulled an “about face” — de-friending (or would it be defacing?) someone who got fresh. He now resides on my Facebook version of the Isle of Elba.

To stay in my good graces, don’t send me crap. I barely have time to shop for actual groceries, so there’s no way I have time to reciprocate when Face Friends gift me with virtual green beers, Easter eggs, pokes, prods or whatever else the Facebookies dreamed up. While I’m sure it’s perfectly delightful to wile away hours taking quizzes about pop culture, I want none of that either. And there’s no way in hell I’m going to take the time to tell my world of friends “25 interesting things about me.” Face it: If we were actual friends, you’d know them already.

Also, I don’t care what you’re doing right this very moment. Facebook allows users to post a quick status update in a kind of thought balloon. Those who aren’t pithy can write on a person’s “wall.” Seriously though, I’m not interested in what you just ate for breakfast or which shoes hurt your feet. You certainly won’t perish if robbed of the knowledge that I just put a load of laundry in the washer.

Honestly, one of the only reasons I “accept” some frienemies is to find out which of those bitches got fat or looks our age. As for the old boyfriends, while some do spark a sweet sense of nostalgia, it’s also nice to see which bullets I dodged.

Speaking of which — not only do you want to friend your kids, but go there with the hubby, too. Facebook has reunited many couples — despite marital unions.

Critics vow to never tread on the pages of Facebook, to never darken its web portal, but the ability to connect to the Face throngs is so magnetizing the iPhone and Blackberry now have Facebook apps.

Facebook can even whip users into a frenzy of instant connection. Friends can “see” which of their friends are online so they can instant-message one another. Thank goodness I learned that Facebook offers an option where you can be online but remain “invisible.” I like to think of it as a sort of witness protection program.

After all, the Mafia — and Stephanie Gorski — might be watching. 

Tagged: Francene |