A couple of weeks ago I traded caution for curiosity and joined Facebook. We’ve all read accounts about the raft of questionable photos and ignominiously foolish comments posted on Facebook for all the world to see, or worse, curious employers tempted to check the accuracy of such reports. My adult children and many,if not all of their cousins were already members. My wife and her sister joined next but I remained a holdout along with my brother-in-law until, as I mentioned, my curiosity got the better of me. I threw in with the rest of the wastrels and embraced sociability!
Facebook may be touted as a social network but it comes off a bit more tinny, gimicky than it is connective. There are groups, games, applications, etc. which appear to be a kind of ruse instead of activities or areas that actually encourage or facilitate real communication or the exchange of ideas. I may be way off base or even more confused than ignorant but a poke seems woefully deficient as a means for information transfer. I will own up to the existence of a certain amount of cleverness; however, a quick inventory of posts yields very little word play and an abundance of glaringly mundane insertions of the status quo; and, I can attest to this because guilt taints my clumsy fingertips for authoring equally appalling one-liners regarding my own whereabouts or activities. Nevertheless, I persisted. In time I received friend invitations; it was difficult for my wife not to recognize me and, of course, my children gradually looked askance at the potential for embarrassment with my being present as a friend among their peers but they relented, threw caution to the electrons, and in the spirit of unrelenting self exposure, sent me invitations to join them in their circle of friends.
I decided to move slowly in this new environment, observing, exploring so my list of friends grew more along the lines of a stalagmitic accretion than a volcanic eruption. After a week of genuine Holmesian sleuthing I managed to discover the identity of the person behind a rather baffling friend request. It seems an high school classmate of mine sent me a friend request; however, she did not list the high school we attended in her profile nor did she include her photo. The mystery was finally solved when I recognized her from the photo with which she later updated her profile. Since she had been married and divorced three times it would have been less confusing and more efficient to use her maiden name, after all that was her name when we were in high school together!
About the same time I was engaged in my seven percent solution, another friend request arrived. The request was sent by a guy who was in my class at college and who I actually knew so I accepted. I checked out the web site he listed for himself which turned out to be a blog on Blogger. We weren’t close friends but we did know each other; it was hard not to be acquainted, at least, with nearly everyone on campus at such a small school. In the spirit of tit-for-tat, I sent my re-acquired friend a link to my blog so that he could catch up.
Meanwhile my friend list remained skeletal; I was having very little success locating people I knew from high school and college. I found myself in the opposite situation from those that I had read about in a recent web article where members of Facebook were re-evaluating their burgeoning friends lists and concluded for a variety of reasons that some drastic pruning was in order. The process, in social networking parlance, is known as “unfriending“. While eliminating one name or many from a register of hundreds or even thousands appears to be a rather simple task, these arborists soon discovered that their trimming resulted in truncated limbs, hurt feelings rather than restoring vigor to an unruly plant. Being “unfriended” apparently devastated many folks, even those who admittedly had virtually no active connection with the “unfriender”. Some who had been “unfriended” were so distraught that their appeals to their former friends was so plaintive that they were reinstated even though their status returned to its former inactivity.
Imagine my surprise when I reviewed my single digit list of friends and was unable to find the college mate whom I had just accepted as a friend. Perhaps, there had been an error involving the particular college network group to which we belonged. I continued my inquiry to locate the friend who had mysteriously disappeared. And then it happened. I was checking out the friends of a mutual friend when the friend who had vanished from my list remained on the list of a mutual friend. It was too staggering for a novice like me to fathom such an act: I had been “unfriended“. I reeled from this revelation just as Shakespeare’s mortal Caesar wheeled to face his assassins, and uttered to the thankless wretch who set the trap: This was the most unkindest cut of all.