Lately, I have found myself slumped over my laptop longing for the good old days when a handful of friends could get together and kibitz at someone’s home or a local bistro just to fill up a lazy afternoon and empty a few tumblers.
Such events seem to be disappearing in the face of something called Facebook, the online social network I signed up for, which allows you to reach out to friends every day -- without ever catching any of their airborne communicable diseases.
Now, once on Facebook, when someone stumbles across my photo and wants to say “How ya been?, the polite way to do this is to ask to be my “friend.” And naturally, a timid introvert like myself would jump at the chance.
The problem is that as soon as I agree to be someone’s friend, I begin getting invitations to be friends with their friends. For instance, I agreed to be friends with someone named Vincent Reebee, because at the time he appeared to be friendless, and he represented himself on Facebook with a bust of Zeus, surely a cry for help. He informed everyone that he’d just begun woodworking classes and he asked Susan Rollicker to join him. In the same message, he asked me if I’d like to be friends with Susan Rollicker (who appears from her photo to be 3 years old). So not to offend, I agreed to be friends with Susan Rollicker, even though I don’t know Vincent Reebee or Susan Rollicker. Susan’s response to Vincent’s woodworking invitation was, “Are you the Vincent who sent photos of Pamela Deiner’s garden?” (Clearly, Susan isn’t sure who Vincent Reebee is either - and, at three years old, is understandably wary of the invitation.) Susan then asked me if I’d like to be friends with Pamela Deiner and accept Pamela’s Group Invitation to join forty-two others who are remembering and listening to Mungo Jerry.
Again, unable to disappoint anyone, I agreed. After just three days of this, I now have 368 new friends, 362 of whom I’ve never met and six who speak nothing but Farsi.
The only other Facebook option I have for these invitations is a terribly discourteous “Ignore” button – which, if applied, could send someone like Vincent Reebee over the edge. I think it’s high time Facebook added more useful options which can serve as amiable “maybes.” A category such as “Pleasure to meet you. Up to My Ears In Friends Right Now. Click Back Next Month.” hurts no one’s feelings and gives you a chance to find out who Vincent Reebee, for instance, really is, and, more importantly, whether or not you owe him money.
At any rate, despite all my new-found popularity, I still get this old-fashioned tug to ask friends if they’d like to meet for coffee somewhere – in real life. Unfortunately, all I get back is an invitation to visit their blog and see photos of themselves using their new espresso machine. In return, I send them new photos of myself having coffee alone at my laptop.