Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Have 149 Friends

Nobody Knows Me - Lyle Lovett (mp3)
Friends/Sigmund + the Sea Monster - Tripping Daisy (mp3)

In the film The Princess Bride, criminal mastermind Vezzini (Wallace Shawn) repeatedly uses the word "Inconceivable!" when reacting to the Dread Pirate Roberts overcoming obstacles set in his path. Finally, after the umpteenth use of this word, Vezzini's swordsman, Inigo Montoya, says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Facebook keeps using the word "Friend." I do not think it means what they think it means. "Friend" has been Vezzini'd by Facebook.

As of Wednesday, September 24, I had 149 Friends on Facebook. To risk coming across like a complete and total ass, I haven't had 149 Friends in my whole entire life. Even more awkward, at least half of the people I consider true friends are either not on Facebook, or we're just not friends on there. (The latter is entirely possible, because I have only twice ever searched for anyone on Facebook, and neither time was for one of my true Friends.)

The reality is, when you make a Friend on Facebook, you're really acknowledging an acquaintance. But even that's not quite accurate, because at least a dozen of my Facebook Friends aren't even people I particularly like. They're not bad people. They don't waterboard detainees or molest small children. But I've never even had what could be considered a "friendly conversation" with them. No small talk at all, not even about the kids or our favorite sports teams or anything.

But there they are on my Facebook. People who don't even rank as acquaintances. And now they're my Friends. Are Amigos falling from the sky?

As best I can tell, Facebook is really good at letting you feel more connected to people you're not all that connected to, but shitty at making you feel more distant from people who are actually your friends. Put another way, if I already know you really well, I don't get much from being your Facebook Friend. If I don't know you really well, or if you've moved away, then maybe I get little tidbits of friendly information that allows me to feel closer.

Maybe this is proof that I'm now older, that advances in technology has passed me by. But I don't think so. Why use Facebook to communicate with someone you'll see later that day, or the next day, unless they're not worth going out of your way for to begin with?

I'm not pooping on Facebook. I actually think it's a pretty brilliant creation. But when I scroll through that list of Friends, I find myself shaking my head and wondering, Why would you remotely care what my "status" is, or what my favorite '80s movie is? Why did you ask me to be your friend? When are we allowed to finally acknowledge that we don't care about one another and break this utterly superficial and meaningless cyberbond?

No seriously. Can you ever break up with a Facebook Friend? What are the requirements? Or are Facebook Friends like unsavory relatives, and we're forced to silently coexist with one another until one of us passes?

CLARIFICATION: If you're reading this, and you're a Friend of mine on Facebook, then allow your common sense to determine that you're probably not one of the people I consider a mere "acquaintance," since only about 20 people we know read this silly thing.


"Nobody Knows Me" is from Lyle Lovett's second album, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. "Friends/Sigmund + the Sea Monsters" is from Saturday Morning, a compilation of classic Saturday morning show theme songs performed by various artists. Both are available at Amazon.com's mp3 site.

3 comments:

Bob said...

To add to the randomness of online "friendships," Roger McGuinn, founder of The Byrds, invited me to join his Linked-In network this week.

Although I like his music quite a bit, my only previous connection with him has been drunkenly and obnoxiously shouting out songs titles at his concert up at Sewanee about 20 years ago, and I can't imagine he's wanting to reconnect about that experience, quite frankly.

Go figure.

karos said...

The Byrds! I fucked Chris Hillman! OK, just almost. Sorry... momentarily distracted...

I hate Facebook. I don't think it's brilliant; I think it's shallow, meaningless, awkward, ugly, and irritating.

And yet I have one. However. I only have 22 friends. Recently, I deleted about 6 of them, because I didn't know them in real life and I don't care.

The one thing it's good for is to see what my sister in Texas are up to, and the latest pictures. What bugs me is my SI-to-be, who lives in my city, communicating with me via Facebook when she has my damn phone number and e-mail address.

Those inane applications drive me nuts.

The whole thing, for those that use it to any extent, is such a severe implementation of navel gazery down to the minutia ... it just makes me wanna puke.

I have one friend who has over 1400 "friends." Why?

Time waster.

matt said...

Bill,

Great stuff. Believe it or not, I like Facebook a lot more compared to Myspace, which just became a giant collection of people I barely knew.

On Facebook, it feels like they have things locked down better, and I can honestly say that I know every single person on my list.

Close friend or acquaintance, I enjoy it as a way to keep in touch with quite a few different people from many different parts of my life, and also see what they're currently up to/enjoying....always a new opportunity to learn something new about someone you might have known for years, yet never known that particular fact.