Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

They might be friendly but they're not all your friends



I have a Facebook friend named Chelsea Rae Jones. She was married on Sunday, so I'm obliged to extend a big congratulations to her. I wasn't invited to the wedding but the pictures on Facebook indicate that the ceremony was beautiful and everyone had a fabulous time....

I mean no offense to Ms. Jones or whatever her last name is now, but I know far too much about this wedding. Granted, I know very little beyond what I've reported above, but even that's too much. I've known far too much about the engagement and I know too much about Chelsea Rae Jones. She seems like a nice person and if I get the chance to actually meet her, I might benefit from the interaction, but, you see, I don't actually know Chelsea Rae Jones.

I know I've met her before — somewhere, somehow — but the specific details of this meeting are long, long gone. I haven't the faintest clue how we became Face-friends. I do know this much: according to Facebook Timeline (which is great, by the way, and all you haters will see), we've been friends since October 2007 and we have two friends in common, neither of whom I know very well and both of whom exist in vastly different realms of my social life. I'm confounded because I know I know her but can't remember how.

I've considered posting on her wall the great question: "How do I know you?" but reaching out like that, keeping in mind the mutual decision to have no relationship at all, would be weird. The truth is, I'm way past the point of ever finding out how I know Chelsea Rae Jones. There are specific, unnamed rules about Facebook that most of us adhere to, all of which stem from a single Golden Rule: don't engage with Facebook friends that you don't really know anymore.

The very idea of Facebook, and all social media, is the exact opposite: we're meant to engage with different people and connect through dialogue, shared interests, etc. But Facebook for many of us has come to represent a piggy bank of old friends, brief encounters and virtual strangers.

At the time of writing this, I have 487 Facebook friends. Exactly 51 of these are people I see on a regular basis or wish that I could. Seven of these are people that I will call out for a beer, or if I need someone to talk to in a time of need. Two of them are my siblings and the other is my girlfriend. The remaining 436 people I'd probably avoid eye contact with if I saw any of them (or all of them at once!) in the street. I'd be bummed if one of them (or all of them!) died in a plane crash but beyond that I care very little about what's happening in their lives.