Every so often I get an announcement from someone I once knew and may even have liked inviting me to become their ‘friend’ on MySpace or one of those ersatz social life sites. Excuse me for a moment while I go puke into the toilet.
No doubt there is some logic or amusement in putting yourself into cyberspace in that peculiar way and attracting messages from people around the world who have just as little going on in their lives as you do. Some people like to have a Facebook page; others like to watch little boys set fire to toads. There’s no accounting for taste.
But I have enough respect for the old-fashioned art of friendship, acquaintanceship and interpersonal relations in general that I do NOT, thank you, wish to be squeezed into this distasteful form of robotics by people with whom I have, quite peacefully and over a prudent period of time, lost touch.
‘Friend’: I have a news flash for you: it wasn’t an accident. We have nothing to say to each other right now, and no flimsy-ass, neon-screen POS website is gonna change that.
I lived in a group house years ago, and when email arrived on the scene in the middle 1990s, someone got the bright idea to reunite us on a listserv after a good two decades of disconnection. We got all excited at first and started writing back and forth about our lives and activities. It was really fun.
In no time at all, however, the problems started up. People who had harangued each other about their political differences over beers and joints started to harangue each other about their political differences on the screen. People who had bored us with their careers at breakfast bored us with their careers in IMs. People who had adopted an annoying tone of voice at the dinner table adopted an annoying tone of voice on the email list.
Surprise! We had lost contact for a reason!
So no, I do not accept your invitation to become a ‘friend’ nor do I have any interest whatsoever in ‘visiting’ your personalized announcement to the world that you exist. I absorb this fact with due gratification; however, ‘friends’—sorry, those I can already identify, and they’re not the least bit electronic. I’ll ‘visit’ them in my own retrograde, codgerly, nineteenth-century way, and there won’t be 85 of them, either.