It all began when a friend asked me to vote for her in a recipe contest on Facebook. I couldn't access the site without a password, so I decided to join the social network. After I placed my vote, I started getting the word out! Searching through my friends' lists, I couldn’t believe how many contacts they had. Some lists had close to 1000 names on them! At this point I would’ve been happy with double digits! Then I broadened my field by contacting old friends and acquaintances. This process moved at a painfully slow pace to where I was receiving notice of “friendship request pending” from people’s pets!
I couldn’t even ask my sons to “friend” me, because they were aghast at the thought of our two worlds colliding. My husband had no interest, and would just peek in on me and utter “addict” under his breath. I just had to reach a respectable number, but what was respectable? Suddenly, I was thrust back into the halls of my high school experiencing deep feelings of insecurity.
Why wasn’t so and so getting back to me right away? It must be my picture or was I too nice when I invited her to be my friend? Maybe I shouldn’t have sent a message. That’s right, I’ll just act like I could care less. I’m not the tall, klutzy girl who stood in the back row in the school plays. I’m the cool, confident woman who carries herself with grace and style. Okay, maybe some of the old druggies will buy the last part.
I decided to leave little clues to let people know that I was still around by commenting on others’ news feed information. For example, someone would mention they had a bad case of the hiccups and twenty people would offer remedies and I would press the like (thumbs up) sign to show that (A) I was still alive and (B) I cared deeply for their suffering. Surely, this scheming would alert the masses and everyone I ever said hello to would be tripping over each other to be my “friend.” Instead, I was rewarded with silence.
In the midst of all this, I was developing a side business—Facebook Police. The nice thing about having a small, virtually, non-existent list of friends, is that they were easily monitored. One of my friends said that I would watch over my list, like a mother cares for her baby chicks. As leader of the imaginary FBP (Facebook police) I would try to prevent potentially uncomfortable situations. For example, I would alert girlfriends if old boyfriends or ‘crushes” might be contacting them, if they were discovered on my list. Many people were flooded with friendship requests and I wanted to make sure no one accidentally got in on my watch. I’m an empty nester, I could be drowning myself in booze or milkshakes every night.
When I was finally ready to pull the plug on the social network, something amazing happened. People responded to my requests and some people actually requested me! I’ve even had real conversations with friends I haven’t spoken to in years! Sure it’s a numbers game and that’s all I am to some who have contacted me, and I’ve been guilty of that too. But there is something to be said about reconnecting with people you truly care about. There is a quote that I didn’t have the guts to post on my wall for fear that no one would see it, but it rings true on so many levels. Though Facebook wasn’t originally intended with this thought in mind, all the parents who have joined in should adopt this as their mantra: “ People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed: never throw out anyone.”—Audrey Hepburn