Sunday, November 16

The Prom Queen Finally Wants To Be Your Friend

A few months ago I posted about finding an old college friend and an ex-coworker via social networks. Wired had a great article recently about the blurring relationships between current and past friends online. This "endless friending" will be interesting to watch with teenage users, who are building their friend list early in their life.

I, however, have recently encountered a different phenomenon = Regressive Friending. It involves becoming Facebook Friends with people I haven't thought about in 20 years. It probably has a lot to do with the high school reunion season, and the fact that social networks continue to gain older users. In the last 2 months I have been friended (and yes, I admit, proactively sought) the NCHS class of '88.

It started as innocent curiosity: "I wonder if I can find her, what he looks like now, where they work, etc." Lurking at the reunion without having to join the conversation. Then, as with all things social networking, it turned into an obsession. Befriend those you hung out with first. Expand into those who sat next to you in English class. Then move on to the names that you kind of remember, but couldn't really describe. Guess what, they all accept. And within a few days you will also be sought in the same manner.

Which, in the grand scheme of social networking, isn't a big deal. But it made me realize that most of my close friends from my past aren't on Facebook. Which means I now know more about my Facebook high school friends' day-to-day lives than my actual friends:

Annetta is making lasagna for the first time. Al ran a 4:30 marathon in Athens, Greece. Erin can't figure out what a "poke" is. Everyone loves their kids.

The ironic thing is that -- despite all these friend invites and accepts -- I haven't had an actual conversation with any of them. No "what you been up to?" wall posts or "remember me?" instant messages. Instead I get to listen into their daily Facebook status, sneak peeks at their pictures, and see which of their friends aren't in my network. It's almost exactly like high school.

So maybe, as the Wired article surmises, it isn't the best idea to approve invites from your past:
Fine, you can "Remove Friend," but what kind of asshole actually does that? Deletion is scary—and, we're told, unnecessary in the Petabyte Age. That's what made good old-fashioned losing touch so wonderful—friendships, like long-forgotten photos and mixtapes, would distort and slowly whistle into oblivion, quite naturally, nothing personal. It was sweet and sad and, though you'd rarely admit it, necessary.

I reflected on this last week when my brother's best friend from grade school swim team sent me a friend invite. Which, of course, I accepted. His kids did great at the swim meet over the weekend.


slackmo said...

Now you can write your next one on "semi-recent work friends who added my blog to their RSS feed."

I'd blame myself for not knowing about this blog, but it's easier to blame Lemmon.

EL FAMOUS said...

i'm quitting facebook when my mom shows up on it. b. kirk getting on it was close enough to the apocalypse.