Sunday, March 22, 2009

the haunting

I don't remember when I joined Facebook but since that time I've been being visited by ghosts. People I went to high school with, old friends, lovers, cohorts, work associates, acquaintances and even people I don't think I ever really liked when we were traveling in the same circles some twenty-odd years ago.

I currently have 277 friends and 50 pending friend requests and numerous friend suggestions. And this is after editing them down to only people I actually know. Several times!

277 friends? Really?

When something happens and I feel like I need to talk to someone there are about three or four people I think to call. When I'm lonely or bored or think it'd be a good day to go to a movie there are about three or four people I think to call.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word friend as one being attached to another by affection or a favored companion.

Ok, so maybe we've become a little lax with our modern use of this word friend. I don't believe there's anyone I've accepted as a friend on facebook with whom I feel hostility. That's something right?

I don't want to be rude and I certainly have no interest in hurting anyone's feelings by ignoring their friend request but just because I remember someone doesn't mean that we're friends.

Almost daily, more ancient spectres appear before me as I sit in front of my computer monitor, mouth agape, not sure what to think or do.

More perplexing still is how to properly respond to the messages I've received from some of these long past
friends. Again, it really doesn't serve me to be rude or hurtful or even dismissive to anybody but how, exactly, am I supposed respond to "What have you been up to all these years?" when my acquaintance with the person asking was so many years ago and peripheral at best?

It seems the rapid advancement of technological social networking has far excelled the speed with which the human psyche has advanced. Is there a standard, appropriate, contemporary response to such requests?

I usually end up writing something like:

"Wow. Thanks for saying hi. So good to see you on here. Things are really great. Thanks for the friend request. Later"

More evidence that being completely honest without hurting people's feelings in a modern world can be a very problematic undertaking.

1 comment:

sfnypearl said...

Regarding your comments on friend requests from people you didn't really like when traveling in the same circles.

I think there is a difference in what friend requests mean to the primary population of FB (teens and 20 somethings), vs the baby boomers. For us graying FB members, I can see the root of the friend requests in several ways
1) a means of re-connecting b/c we are aging,
2) an opportunity to get to know people better that we were too shy to socialize with in our teens
3) the possibility to discover that there is something inside a person now that perhaps we couldn't see when trapped by the cliques and us vs them attitude that prevailed in our h.s. years.

I dunno.. just a thought.