My Friends and My Friends

I admit it. I’m old fashioned when it comes to the cyberspace world. It hasn’t been always that way. I got an e-mail address before most people had one. But only because my husband is a techie. Twenty years later, I still have the same address when most people have changed and have several.
When I read the French newspapers online, a statue of Liberty reminds me that I can wire money to France whenever I want. When did I tell them that I left Paris for the US? Amazon keeps track of the books I check on their website and suggests books I might like. It will come handy when my memory fails me. When I google for furniture, ads pop up offering me similar products within 30 miles from my home. So, in many ways, deliberately or not, I am part of the online world. I even have a blog so I’m not that passé after all.
But I don’t have a Facebook account. My four children and my husband have one. They are friends on Facebook. I’m not. Most people I know are on Facebook too and occasionally I’ve seen my face or a mention of my name although I’m not their friend. Actually I am but not with the dozens of other friends they have on Facebook.
Don’t pity me. I have friends. I just prefer meeting them in person rather than through Facebook.
However, this morning I received a Facebook invitation that I read with a pang of nostalgia. The invitation was addressed to my name, written in French and signed by someone I had known years ago. We lost track of each other after successive moves but had shared good moments together. I was touched that she had remembered me and wrote to me. I thought it was nice to receive this invitation during the holiday season, until I saw, beneath her invitation, the pictures of people who had at some point invited me on Facebook. Another list of people followed. Facebook said that maybe I knew them and would love to be friends with them.
These people were parents from schools my kids attended years ago, members of associations I had approached but never been a member of, people from my town who don’t know me and a woman who belonged to a common carpool years ago. I didn’t know she lived in South Korea now.
So picture after picture, naïve me got the big picture. Facebook was shuffling my e-mail contacts and I was dealt with a set of disappointing choices. Facebook had picked people I had absolutely no contact with. We had never been friends in the real world. Moreover, I had never entered any of them in my e-mail contact list. Still, they showed up at 8 o’clock on a Saturday, in my inbox, intrusive and uninteresting.
I read the invitation again. It had lost its genuine appeal. I hadn’t been invited intentionally. Facebook had also shuffled my “friend’s” e-mail and sent invitations on her behalf all over the world. I turned my computer off and slipped the hand-written cards I had prepared for my book club friends in my purse. We had coffee and a book to share at 9.
As I drove over, I realized that they have never asked me to be their friend on Facebook.

%d bloggers like this: