A while back I signed up for a Facebook account. I can't remember why exactly -- curiosity or boredom probably. I really didn't understand the point of it all, but signed up for an account. Before I'd filled out any details at all, my friend Blair had found me. I still didn't really get it. I have her e-mail address and she has mine. If we want to keep in touch we already can.
Slowly, I started adding friends, although I went through a mini-crisis trying to decide what the meaning of "friend" is. If I actually stuck to real friends -- people I care a lot about and really want to keep in touch with on a regular basis -- I would probably have about five Facebook friends. I soon discovered that friend on Facebook really often means you have a fleeting memory of passing some one in the halls of high school or college and saying "Hi!" once in a while. I'd feel pretty popular with my seventy-two friends, except that there are a few people who asked to be my friends that I remember only the face and/or name of. I don't even remember saying, "Hi!" to them back in the days of my youth.
I do "get" Facebook now. I really enjoy seeing the status updates and sending brief little messages back and forth with people. It has been nice to regularly be able to check in with actual friends I often only heard from once in a blue moon and there have been a few people I've become reacquainted with about whom I often wondered "Where are they now?".
On the other hand, I've also found out where these people are now and sometimes am struck by how weird they now seem to me and how weird I am sure I seem to them. A few past acquaintances have radically altered their political positions. Others are now followers of pagan goddesses. Some of the more wild ones have settled down -- gotten jobs, spouses and responsibilities. I'm sure also that reading about my being Catholic and having five children has raised more than a few eyebrows amongst people I haven't heard from in years.
Facebook has been an interesting experience to see where I came from and figure out where some of us have gone, but the "friend" thing is still strange to me. Would I be friends with these people now? Would they be friends with me? Some would and are. Others, if we hadn't chanced to grow up in the same town or go to the same college, would never be people I'd seek out in my daily life as it currently stands -- even if we were all back in the same place again.
5 years ago