Call me a mossback, but I admit it: I don’t get Facebook. It’s not that I ain’t hep! Blogging is second nature to me. Almost everything else about the Internet, from Google to e-commerce, I do as though I’ve always done them. I’ve essentially been instant-messaging since the early ’80s.
But Facebook foxes me. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand why information flows the way it does on that site or is structured the way it is; I have trouble obtaining the simplest information from it.
But most of all, I don’t get the whole "friends" concept. Mind you, I’m not the world’s most sociable guy. There’s family. There’s co-workers. There’s sources. There are nice people I see at church or at Rotary. But friends? Not so much. We’re not encouraged to have "friends" in my business. I’ve been the recipient of disapproving remarks from colleagues on the rare occasions I’ve called someone a "friend" in a column. It’s considered unprofessional.
But ever since I set up a Facebook account (I did it when my youngest daughter’s boyfriend died last year, and I’d heard his sister had set up a page where a lot of people had said nice things about him), I’ve had this steady trickle of e-mails saying
(Name) added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know (name) in order for you to be friends on Facebook.
To confirm this friend request, follow the link below:
Sometimes these are people I know, usually professionally. I usually confirm them, if only to keep open the lines of communication. Some are members of my immediate family, such as my children. I approve those, of course, although "friend" seems an awfully inadequate way to define the relationship. Some are people whose names are only vaguely familiar, although I generally recognize them when I go to their pages. Then I have a dilemma — should I snub this person who has asked me to be his or her "friend," or potentially compromise myself by declaring to the world that this person is a "friend?" (This category includes a lot of people, usually younger ones, who work in politics professionally.)
Yeah, I get it that the site using the word "friend" to describe a range of relationships much broader than the original meaning, but I’m still not sure what to do.
Then there are the total strangers asking me to be their friends — some of them attractive young women (and some of them young men whose motivation I wonder about, but never mind). The very first person who asked to be my "friend" was an attractive lady (which I knew from the glamor shot) who lives in Germany and is married. I "confirmed" the friendship just so I could send her a message asking, as delicately as I could, whether we knew each other. She said we did not. OK. Whatever.
That was a year ago, and I still don’t understand what’s going on.
Now, along comes a message saying that "John Vierdsen" wants to be my friend (that is allegedly a picture of him at right). That rang a bell. Sure enough, I went back and found this e-mail I’d received from Randy Page of SCRG on Oct. 13, to wit:
I trust that you are doing well. I noticed that “John Vierdsen” is quoted in the S.C. Blogs section again today. From all accounts, “John Vierdsen” is a pen name because no one knows who “John Vierdsen” is. Rumors swirl about his possible identity, but no one really knows….
So I decided to make use of my vaunted "social network." I went to the page on Facebook where I was being asked whether this John Vierdsen is my friend, and saw that we had a number of "friends" in common. I noticed they were mostly Democrats or fellow travelers, such as Bob Coble, Joe Darby, Joe Erwin, James Smith, Laurin Manning, and so on…
… and former colleague Aaron Sheinin. So I sent e-mails to both the mayor and Aaron asking if they knew who, if anyone, this guy is. The mayor responded with possibly the shortest e-mail I’ve ever gotten from him:
I do not know him.
I haven’t heard back yet from Aaron.
So can any of y’all shed light on this guy? Basically, I just want to know whether we got hoodwinked on our Monday blog rail, as Randy alleges.
And then while you’re at it, maybe you could advise me as to whether I want to be "friends" with Darrell Jackson (his is the only "friend suggestion," rather than "friend request," which I take to mean that HE didn’t want to ask me, sort of like getting a third party to ask whether you want to be friends, which sort of takes me back to the 5th grade), or Tom Fowler, or Scott Sokol, or a lovely young lady from Connecticut named "Tiffany…"