Viewpoint: Fastidiously following Facebook

February 6, 2012 

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have a Facebook page, but on the other hand, I think it makes me sound hip. After all, I have children to impress. But between you and me, they’re getting so old they’re probably not hip anymore, either. Life seems to work that way — just when you think you’re too cool for words, someone changes the language.

I do love lurking in the Facebook shadows — checking out what other people are up to — without getting involved myself, of course. I like reading their conversations and looking at the photos they upload. For instance, my son’s former girlfriend (now married with two adorable children) posts photos of the fabulous cupcakes she bakes. I’ve not eaten one because she is, after all, the former girlfriend. But they look wonderful. I don’t suppose a mother should encourage her son to start up a relationship with a married woman just for the sake of a cupcake … but they do look delicious.

One time, while reading an exchange on my “wall” between people I’d never met, a middle-aged gentleman asked a young woman half his age (if photos are any indication) to please clean up her language because he didn’t appreciate her foul words. Her reply was, “Well, I guess you’d better defriend me, ’cause I swear a lot!” I kind of liked her gutsy reply. But my question was, how did he end up on her friends list anyway? And was he really a friend of hers or just someone farther down the food chain, as in, an acquaintance of an acquaintance? Did anyone on the page really even know the guy at all? To be even more specific, what the heck were either of them doing on my wall?

Defriending online is an amazingly simple process, but in real life it gets a little more complicated. You can’t just move someone out of your life with the click of mouse. It’s a much more gradual process, that starts with, “It’s not you; it’s me,” and moves from there to unreturned phone calls … not that it’s ever happened to me.

I don’t know how many friends I have on Facebook — I lose track. I know for sure that there are a couple of people I went to high school with. One I still know quite well. But the other? I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why she gives a rat’s patooty about what I’m doing these days. She was certainly not interested when we were 17. I was in the band, for God’s sake, and she was a cheerleader. I don’t think we had any classes together, and for sure we never sat at the same lunch table, chowing down corn dogs and Jolly Ranchers. Maybe her memory’s starting to go, and she has forgotten about the band part of my personality. She must imagine me now, much cooler than I was then. I guess there’s a moral there for the high school set; if you wait long enough, you’ll be upgraded to the popular crowd because everyone’s memory has gone to hell in a handbasket. I wonder if she’d like to hear me play the flute?

My Facebook navigation skills are fairly awesome, when my Internet works, but there are still a few things that I haven’t quite figured out. The “Like” and “Share” buttons are self-explanatory, but what’s up with “Poke”? I know that if I click it, something odd is going to happen, but what and to whom, I haven’t a clue. That’s why I’ve not been quick to “Poke.” It sounds rather unseemly. I read a book one time, and the word “poke” was in there. Probably the people on Facebook are not big readers, so they may not have seen what the word meant in the book. But I’m not going to take any chances.

I used to read, back when I was in the band. Now I spend all of my time online, catching up with the cool people from high school and eavesdropping on conversations about swearing. I sure would like one of those cupcakes.

Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs.

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