Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reliving High School Trauma (Or, How Facebook is Ruining My Life)

I think most of my Gentle Readers are familiar with Facebook. If not, just Google it and send in any questions you have in my comments. I'll probably ignore them because I'm lazy and self-centered, but maybe another Gentle Reader will help you out.

Facebook started out as a fun little thing where I was able to touch base with people from college and other past lives - people I hadn't invited into the Blog World, either on purpose or because I didn't know where they were.

Occasionally I am friended by someone whose name sounds vaguely familiar but that I wouldn't know from Adam if you mentioned it to me in passing. And then when they friend me and I see our mutual friends, it all clicks into place. In one example I've enjoyed a lovely online reunion with someone I knew only marginally at St. Olaf but whom I always liked a lot. It turns out that he had grown up in my Brooklyn neighborhood before moving to Minnesota for college.

(Insert audible "oohs" and "ahs" of the excitement from among my Gentle Readers.)

I still maintain that Facebook is a silly, fun little thing to pass the time and mess around with, whereas blogging is for the big guns, people who can and do take the time to write thoughtful essays rather than just doing a bunch of dumb quizzes and telling people what they are doing every given moment. I had a show-down at my wedding with an old friend who mocked my "blogging" as if it were some stupid teenage chatroom hobby.

"I don't see how you have time for that," she said.

"Time for what? You don't think writing is a commendable hobby worthy of an intellectual person's time?"

The fact that I am not an intellectual person was irrelevant, of course. In any event, I think she came around a bit after I tied her down and bitch slapped her for being so ignorant. Blogging is for writers. The rest of it (MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Twitter, and God knows what else) is for hacks.

But all of that was just a silly prologue to what I really want to talk about tonight, Gentle Readers. For it is now a fact that I opened my Facebook door to one person I adored from high school, a person I have not otherwise kept in touch with. A person who adored me back, and who, in addition to befriending weirdos like me, was a cheerleader and ran with a very popular crowd.

A crowd that, well, let's just say they didn't all think much of me.

One of the problems with Facebook is that once you friend somebody, you are subjected to seeing little blurbs flash across your screen about who else they are friending, who is commenting on their wall, who is tagging them in old pictures, and on & on.

This became a problem because Popular Mary is regularly friended by all sorts of people from the crowd that didn't think much of me. And even though it's been 25 years since I left that place, it still stings when I see some person who wouldn't give me the time of day popping up all over my screen when they comment on Mary's page.

I was marginally friends with a few of these really popular people, so I decided to friend them. Jared, Janie, Lorrie, Shawn and a few others. They all replied and made me their friend - but no personal response at all. No reply to my little messages when I sent them my friend requests. "Hi Janie, wow, it's been a long time! How are you?" Nothing but a generic "Janie has accepted your friend request."

Like I'm supposed to be so fucking honored. Grrr.

The last straw came this weekend when Jared, Janie, Lorrie, Shawn and others were all sending each other that stupid "25 Random Things About Me" thing. They were all writing their 25 things, mentioning each other, tagging each other and I'm still sitting here like some loser wallflower.


It's not to say that I have to be friends with everyone. I also had a lot of my own friends in high school, not to mention college and later years, and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world. Furthermore, I'm very comfortable in my misfit station in life.

But there still remain a few high school memories that are a little painful to relive. Maybe I'll write in more detail about some of them as part of my letting go process - "give til it hurts posting" as Dale calls it.

But for now, suffice it to say that this whole Facebook experience is making me feel like sh*t and I've decided to go up the river and take names. No one who makes me feel like shit gets to remain my friend on Facebook.

And while I still adore Popular Mary and will keep her as a FB friend, I have now officially unfriended Jared, Janie, Lorrie and Shawn. And because of a special test that Mindy June and I ran to examine the consequences of unfriending someone on Facebook, we know that the website is subtle, i.e. FB does not alert the unfriendee that they have been dumped.

So, the only way Jared, Janie, Lorrie and Shawn will know I've unfriended them is if they notice that their number of friends has decreased and they go on a fishing expedition to figure out why. Which I know they would never do, on accounta they are all popular and shit.

I don't know how all this Facebook crap will play out at the end of the day. But I do know one thing, Gentle Readers. And that is that you can all look forward to more painfully awkward posts on this and related topics.



Doc said...

Flannery tried to talk me into this facebook thing and I turned her down flat. "Isn't there someone from the past you'd like to find?" she asked. "Nope, not a one."

It sounds like these folks weren't worth your time then or now. Fuck 'em. They are the ones missing out.


SkylersDad said...

I couldn't agree more with Doc. Those losers are not worth your time, or even able to read your "thoughtful essays". He he he on the link to thoughtful essay!

Tanya Espanya said...

I like being your friend and will only ever make you feel awesome. Who else would I follow to their new town and have a huge vacation because I lurve them so much?!


Hi Doc! Hi Skyler's Dad!

Melinda June said...

As you know, I'm having the same problem. And it is only getting worse as the reunion nears. I wish I weren't permanently scared by all that childhood rejection and torment, but I am.

Gifted Typist said...

I wrote a column on this. I'll see if I can find it and email it to you.

Flannery Alden said...

I have so far resisted friending any high school friends. I prefer to send invitations and share bullshit quizes to the "heavy lifters."

Thank you for being a friend!

michaelg said...

I'm a little scared of the facebook too. I don't know what the proper etiquette is. If I come across someone I don't want to be in touch with, I block them. Childish, but it works.
The truth is that you can tell all those jerks to suck it. You're successful. You've got Poor George who loves you and feeds you fabulous food. You've got the two cutest cats in the world. You've got Mindy June on your side. You're all good.

michaelg said...
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Melinda June said...
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BS said...

I think I know who PM is, I maybe know another one, but others clueless. As far as I can tell, Facebook is less a hs reunion than being in hs all over again--I looked at a friend's account and it nearly gave me hives! Stick with the blogging! I totally agree with you and I have no comment on PG's womb memory.

Coaster Punchman said...

Oh no! Now I have another HS friend reading this who is trying to figure out my code names! (Changed to protect the innocent and guilty, of course.) The horror! The horror!

ps: you're right about PM - love her love her love her still! I'll email you about the others to unearth the dark secrets that lie beneath.

And MJ, um, what the hell IS "choral reading?"

Melinda June said...

In Speech Competitions, there is a category called Choral Reading. You know how in Greek theater there is a chorus of people who help the audience understand what's going on? It's kind of based upon that. You take a theme, and you develop a script that is a combination of reading, singing, movement, etc. that explores it, makes jokes about it, etc., and then the chorus reads/sings it.

I'm not suggesting for a second it was cool. In fact, it was kind of the show choir of the speech even used jazz hands. But in our geeky microcosm, we were really good at it. And, like pretty much everything else that mattered to me when I was a kid, it (and I) was dismissed/ridiculed. In the grand scheme of things, do I give a shit? No. It's just symptomatic of the bigger picture.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Thanks for the info - I need to unfriend that Skyler's Dad dude... ;)

vikkitikkitavi said...

I am fairly ruthless about ignoring friend requests for exactly the reason you site. FB is a good way to chat and share stupid links and generally keep in touch with people you like to keep in touch with, but I am not friending my boyfriend's former bandmates, or my coworkers, or anyone else I wouldn't invite to my house.

Eebie said...

Love the post, so agree...I also refuse to read the people who responded before me thinking they will comment relative to Facebook. It would be so nice to flush it...

Anonymous said...

I only go to facebook to play scrabble but if you friend me I won't ignore you. :-)

wonderturtle said...

I too have an unpleasant online high school find experience, but it is too painful for me to blog about at the moment. So you are past it more than me! Also I can't go on Facebook because my students will find me.

Dale said...

Tanya's been trying to rope me into Facebook but I spend enough time avoiding everyone already that it wouldn't make sense to sign up. She did send me an invite and somehow I then got 18 'so and so has added you as a friend' emails. I guess they're trying to trick me into setting up an account?

Have Romy and Michelle friended you yet?

Melinda June said...

SO! If you unfriend someone it doesn't tell them, but I have discovered that, if you have a bunch of common friends, eventually it will put you in their "People you may know" suggestion box, effectively telling them that they are NOT your friend after all.

How do I know this? Several "popular" girls from high school have unfriended me, which is funny, what since they were the ones that initiated our original connection.

Still not cool enough. I think I'll go listen to Morrisey.

Madam Z said...

The night I graduated from high school, I looked back, as Daddy was driving us home, and said, "I never want to see this school or anyone in it again, as long as I live." The thought of any of those people finding me (not that they'd want to), through facebook or any other venue, is horrifying! At present, I have a few actual, warm-bodied, 3 dimensional friends, and that's enough.

Tanya Espanya said...

I only invited Dale to join, I didn't create him a profile or anything. I don't know what happened. Am hating myself at his behest.

Hi Tom!

BeckEye said...

I hate everyone I went to high school with. But just for the hell of it, I looked up my graduating class year and there are about 7 people with Facebook pages. I guess the rest of them are too busy getting pregnant and not learning how to use a computer.

And you've only received ONE "utter nonsense" invitation?? LUCKY.

SouthernBelle said...

I just found you via Deadspot's blog. FYI, he is having trouble accessing you, because of some walls which are on fire or something.

You are hilarious and fantastic (basing this on this post only, but I will go on to read previous ones) - those "popular" people sound like wankers. I think you shouldn't feel too hurt about them supposedly not liking you; isn't it mutual after all?

I recently accepted a friend request from a distant friend of my husband's and then smacked my forehead because I actively loathe the guy. I defriended him the next day.

Grant Miller said...

The More painful and awkward the better

Mr. Fantastic said...

This may be the best analysis/shared experience of Facebook I've ever seen. I feel slightly less weird about using an online alias for sites like Facebook and MySpace for having read this, as it confirms I am not the only one who is uncomfortable with the peripheral association with former high school colleagues through "social networking."