I am now on Facebook.
You may turn immediately to Page 6. I’ve saved you four minutes of your week. You’re welcome.
My daughter, 13, thinks it is both preposterous and hilarious that her old man – and Lord does she think I’m old – is on one of the Web’s social networks first populated by college students. “It’s just not right,” she said with a clarity seldom seen.
No, this is not an introduction to the “25 Random Things About Me” meme that is scorching Facebook. Regular readers have learned far too many random things about me over the years to be interested in an organized effort on my part to impress or cajole you into liking this column. I would mention though that I have never broken a bone.
Here, however, are two Facebook conundrums that I, as a novice, find perplexing. After all, I wouldn’t want to violate social networking etiquette and cause any of my 67 friends to “unfriend” me. That, by the way, is a very brutal concept.
Anyhow, I was offered the friendship of Eric Zorn, the well known columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper, and I was, of course, flattered being a columnist for a small, out-of-the-way neighborhood paper, albeit one not in bankruptcy. I spent a day or two contemplating whether Eric – hope he doesn’t mind that familiarity – really wanted to be my friend or whether he has some sad sack intern scouring all the recruits to Facebook looking for easy prey.
Lo and behold, I picked up the Trib a week ago Tuesday and there’s Eric’s column headlined “Wide circle of Facebook friendships collapses.” I instantly wished that I had accepted his proffered friendship, as the poor fellow was suddenly friendless. I’ve written a few columns that left me temporarily friendless, though the more typical reaction I engender is unremitting disinterest.
However, on reading Eric’s column, it seems likely that I was part of his “crazy experiment” to find out how long it would take him to “acquire 1,000 new Facebook friends.” As he reports, after sending 180 friend requests in an hour, Facebook shut him down for either violating some unknown rule or coming close to melting the nuclear core.
Honestly, it makes me feel a little cheap. And in high school, my nickname was Gnoches.
Speaking of high school, one of the wonders of Facebook is that it allows you to reconnect with people you didn’t even remember you knew. For instance, I entered my high school and year of graduation into my profile and up popped the names and faces of six of my former classmates. All well and good. There was a small emotional trickle that welled in my heart, which reminds me that my wife thinks I’m manly when I cry but my daughter is horrified. My son has no discernible opinion.
There though, staring back at me from my Facebook page was the visage of a 53-year-old man living in L.A. who – God as my witness – I thought had killed himself just after high school. You know those early deaths in your life? The first contemporary who dies stays with you in a peculiar way; and mine, my first dead guy, was alive and well and living in Southern California. I suppose I should contact him and wish him well. Maybe I’ll just wait and see if he “friends” me.
Wednesday Journal, by the way, is now up on Facebook, too. Part of our plan to be relevant to people with a phobia about papercuts. You can’t “friend” us, but you can “fan” us, which is an entirely more appropriate relationship to have with an institution.