Dear “Friend” Number 248

Like many of you, I was not in college during the original debut of Facebook (remember when you had to have a college “.edu” email address to even participate?)  But eventually, Facebook was opened up to everyone, and I was not too long in jumping on the bandwagon.

It was fun for a while.  You got on, filled out a couple things in a profile, uploaded a picture or two, and then went looking for “friends.”  The first people you found and “requested” were usually those in your immediate circle of actual acquaintances.  Then old boy/girl-friends and crushes (come on, you know you all did it).  Then you went to family members.  And you kind of branched out from there.  I don’t know where that got most of you numberwise; I think I landed somewhere in the 20-30 range.

Then you go to more distant family members.  Older acquaintances.  People you knew from college.  Once-in-a-while and I-wonder-what-ever-happened-to friends.  Maybe co-workers (though, for the most part, I would not recommend this).  People you go to church with (also not recommended).  This might find you hovering somewhere in the 50s or 60s.  It did for me, if memory serves.

Then something weird happened.  I started getting requests from people I hadn’t seen, talked to, or thought about in years.  In some cases, decades.  Old elementary school chums.  Very distant relatives.  Old teachers.  Old neighbors.  It wasn’t long before I was hovering around the 100 range.

Then things got even weirder.  I was mass contacted by a group of “cousins” I had never met, most of them from the UK or Australia, sharing my same (rather obscure) last name.  People who claimed to have known me in high school (though, for the life of me, I had no recollection).  People who knew my parents, but I had never met.  And several times people that, as near as I could tell, were “friends” with a couple of people that I was “friends” with, and figured what the heck.

Things have advanced some.  I have since been contacted by people who “Like” similar things, join similar groups, and in some cases nice-seeming but complete strangers.

And of course you are meeting and coming in contact with new people all the time, on-line and in person.

Until one day I was surprised and shocked to notice that I had 248 “friends.”  Granted, I didn’t know who every one of these people was, and probably wouldn’t be able to pick over half of them out of a line up.  I don’t know why I even noticed the number; maybe its 2 times 4 equals 8 symmetry appealed to me subconsciously.  And so, for a time, I had 248 “friends.”

And that was fine.  I didn’t think too much about it, either way.  Life went on.

Until one day I just happened to notice that my nice, round “248” was gone.  And in its place a much less aesthetically-pleasing “247.”  More than anything, I was just curious.  But I wondered what had happened.  Had someone dropped me?  De-friended me?  I wondered why.  Was it my annoyingly obscure Facebook posts?  Were they sick of me “liking” gangster rap music?  Was it the onslaught of links to these blog posts without any indication that I had actually written them?  Or had I actually offended someone?

I wasn’t really worried.  Like I said, just curious.  But there was no way to know who it was.  My list of “friends” had become unmanageable.  This could be a distant non-acquaintance or a close-ish friend.  Anyone from my original 20-30 list I probably would have noticed, but other than that, it was anyone’s guess.

So I just waited.

And waited.

Then one day I just so happened to notice that I was back up to “248.”  No new messages like “hey, I’ve decided to give you another chance, a-hole, but if I see one more of these stupid ‘Dunce’ links, I am out of here!”  I scrolled in vain through my lengthy list.  No one seemed new.  I didn’t know.  But I was glad they were back, somehow.  I live in mortal fear of offending anyone, especially without meaning to.

Life went on.  Facebook went on.

Until one day I was back at “247.”  How was this happening?  I know you know that technology is not my thing, but I didn’t know that you could friend, un-friend, and re-friend someone without them knowing.  Apparently you can.  Was this the same person, or different people?  Were people cancelling their Facebook accounts and then recreating them?  Were these long-lost “friend” requests I had sent out and forgotten about?  Were people accepting, looking at my profile, and upon realizing I wasn’t fat, bald, and homeless, un-friending me and leaving in disgust?

I don’t know.  And don’t know how I can know.

Right now I am at 248 (or was last time I checked).  Who knows how long that will last?  I will try to behave and see what happens…

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