By last count, I had 398 friends. I know what you’re thinking: this girl must be incredibly popular, right? And what a social life!
But of course, it’s all a farce. These are friends of the Facebook variety. Which means they’re a mix of random acquaintances, classmates I haven’t seen or spoken to in more than a decade, a similar contingent of college-era friends, a smattering of co-workers, a few dozen cousins and other assorted relatives, etc. There are, of course, some who are the “genuine article” – those who I count as true friends both in cyberspace and in real life.
The interesting phenomenon I guess, is that more than a handful of the people who started in one of the previous aforementioned categories have migrated to real-friendom. Which is pretty cool.
My favorite part of Facebook, I guess, is the chance to reconnect, both with my old school buddies and my family, the far-reaching Farrell clan. With roughly 35 first cousins on my mother’s side, that’s quite a feat, since we range in age from early 20s to mid-50s and are spread geographically around the country. In fact, I’d say the social networking site has done more to bring us all back together than anything since my Uncle Bill’s Farrell Family Facts newsletter. (The monthly publication had quite the cult following at Manhattan College.)
The beauty of Facebook I guess is it takes the actual work out of friendship. You don’t actually have to talk to anyone to know what is going on in their lives, just read their status updates. Conversely, you can share your latest news with one click of the button. If you’re a shameless self-promoter like me, you can link to your latest blogs for all to read and enjoy.
And you’ve got to love the photo album feature. Now, you’ll never have to endure another post-vacation slide show again. Unless you want to.
It’s great for re-affirming your self worth, too. Having a bad day, post it. Within minutes you’ll have a host of comments about how great you are. Granted, they’re from Great Aunt Millie (you know, the one who divorced Uncle Merle before you were born?), the half-sister of your ex-boyfriend and that kinda creepy guy who used to sit behind you in third grade ... But beggars can’t be choosers, right?
Yesterday was National Unfriend Day. The brain-child of comedian Jimmy Kimmel, it was hyped as the day to cut out the “friend fat” in an effort to preserve the sanctity of friendship. Kimmel even offered the following advice for those who were struggling where to draw the line:
“If you wouldn’t loan someone 50 dollars, unfriend them. If you wouldn’t invite them to your birthday party, unfriend them. If they wouldn’t cry if you got hit by a bus, unfriend them.”
I’d like to think that everyone on my list would cry if I got hit by a bus. (The reverse is a given.) And they’re welcome to attend any and all birthday celebrations in my honor. As long as they bring gifts.
And let’s be honest, no one who actually knows what I do for a living would even consider asking me for a $50 loan. They’d sooner get it from a stone.
For the record, I didn’t de-friend anyone yesterday. My list only dropped by one – from 399 to 398 – so I must be doing something right.
I’m hardly an indiscriminate friender, by any means. I do actually know everyone whose friend request I’ve accepted. And ditto those who I have reached out to friend.
Well, except for that one guy who I thought I went to college with. Belatedly, I realized it was the brother of said Jasper. But he was kind of cute, so I let him stick around.
I have 30 or so friend requests lingering. I don’t have the heart to deny some of them out-right. I’ll let them molder for a few months, then let ‘em down easy.
One of my favorite fb pastimes to see what friend suggestions the site’s powers that be have for me. It’s always good for a laugh. By their somewhat flawed logic, I should automatically know anyone who is friends with more than, say, three of my existing “friends.” 99 percent of them, I’ve never heard of.
The other 1 percent, I do know. And we have like 50, rather than just 3, mutual friends. The question in my head as I narrow my eyes at these suggestions is, “Who do they think they are?” Because, honestly, they really should have tried to friend me by now.
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