Saturday, February 19, 2011

Facebook Acquaintances

"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence; true friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks and adversity before it is entitled to the appellation." 
- George Washington 

Though not the social person that perhaps I should be, I do spend time on Facebook occasionally. It's not that by contributing to this social networking site in such a limited fashion, I am in any way attempting to be snotty. It's just that carrying the burden of being a Curmudgeon (a burden much easier to bear quite frankly, than the excess pounds that I force my feet to carry) means that a certain level of cantankerousness is a required part of the job description. 

Of course like many before me, I quickly succumbed to the seductive pleasure involved with adding Friends to build up my list. Attempting to boost my ego by a vain effort at building up the numbers of those on my Friends list however, caused a moral dilemma between my ego's desire to feed itself from the numbers game and the rather strict concepts of friendship that I have always had. 

In the spirit of full disclosure and with a fair amount of mortification, I will admit to you the unfortunate fact that my principles lost the early battle. I found myself adding family, friends, friends of family, friends of friends, and complete strangers in the self-deceiving belief that I could build up my weak self-esteem by growing these numbers. (I know, the weak self-esteem thing is rather difficult to believe about me, but is true nonetheless.) 

The strange thing is that in spite of these almost Herculean efforts, I never even managed to cross the 200 threshold of Facebook Friends. The guilt of even this however, soon began to take its toll; and I found myself however feebly, fighting back. Almost without conscious effort, I soon found myself wining the war by eliminating people from that list; those that I had never met, would never meet, and whose lack of personal introduction I was indifferent to. I have some pretty definite principles where friendship is concerned, and ultimately they won out over my unprincipled weakness. 

That is not to say that I don't already have a fair number of people that I consider to be acquaintances. They are those that I have met on one occasion or another, that I have perhaps shared a brief encounter, conversation, or cocktail with; or that I have possibly enjoyed a casual working relationship with over the years. Friends however are something entirely different. A Friend is a person that you know a good deal about. They are someone that you have spent time with, shared ideas, history, and above all trust with. They know your family and you know theirs. They are people that you would lend money to without hesitation and though with a bit more anxiety, likely borrow money from. They are people you have invited to your home and whose home you have visited. They are people who are often more likely to know what you will say and how you react to a given situation long before even you do. Most importantly, they are people that you not only care about; but care deeply for.  They are not however, people with whom your only connection is Facebook. 

Don't get me wrong. This is not to disparage the concept of Facebook itself, as I find it a fascinating bit of technology. It allows me to keep up with the goings on of an extended Family that I see far too seldom, but whose health, welfare, and happiness are nevertheless very important to me. It also allows me to keep up on the goings on of many Acquaintances who I see even less often, and who (as I said) I do care about. With Facebook, I enjoy seeing the triumphs and tribulations that they go through, the achievements that they celebrate, and even share sympathy with the losses that they mourn. In the process doing so, I am occasionally even able to offer a pithy comment or two regarding such circumstances (where appropriate, of course), something which can be gratifying both as a person and as one who aspires to be a writer. 

I am likewise usually amused when I become privy to some part of the TMI (Too Much Information) that some are wont to share on this site. It's not that the situations themselves are amusing, but it's sometimes gratifying to recognize that I am not the only person on the planet leading a life that's mostly tedious and for the most part boring. I do sometimes wish however, that I could have multiple lists on Facebook. I would like one for Family, another for Friends, a third for Acquaintances, and maybe even a final one for people that I only know through this social networking site. 

Don't misunderstand me, I know that Facebook allows one to put up such relationships (like Family) and keep these lists on their site; but somehow the concept of allowing companies on Internet to know and remember more about me than I am capable of remembering myself seems not only intimidating, but potentially dangerous. 

So when I once again put up the link to this posting on Facebook, you will know that as always, I did so with a bit of trepidation. I hope that my Family and Friends will know and understand that this is just one additional element to a confusing personality that even Sigmund Freud would undoubtedly shake his head and walk away from smiling. 

I hope that my Friends will likewise shake their heads, and be both amused and bemused by what they have either long known (or at least suspected) about my rather quirky nature. As for my Facebook Acquaintances, well you'll just have to make the best of all of this; recognizing that this is simply an example of the kind of crap you should have expected and were going to periodically subject yourself to when you agreed to be my Facebook Friend.


Roland Hansen said...

Good blog entry, Tim. It appears that many people have lost perspective of several things when it comes to FB. One is that the term "friends" is used very generously; I prefer the term "contacts" over that of "friends" when it comes to the social network. Another problem with FB as with other internet communications is that without the face-to-face exchange there is better chance of misunderstandings; after all, we miss all the nonverbal communication messages that come with body language, intonation, etc. And, there is the lack of immediate feedback. All this can result in sore feelings, angry responses, and more.

Timothy W Higgins said...


You've written a mouthful here mi Amigo. If we are all going to live our lives on Facebook, I will look forward to the technology advances of 'supposed to be funny', 'sarcasm', and 'irony' keys.

Judy said...

I had to make up my own key of don't like this....
And then there are "friends" that always tend to read more into a comment than what is written=Trouble!!!!