The 24-Hour Friendship.

A few days ago, I received, and ultimately approved, a Facebook friend request from a guy I haven’t spoken to since I graduated from high school in 2004.  As is the very odd and all too common case in this digital age, I was content just to add him to my pretty stagnant “friends” list, happy to have him silently waiting for me, in case I ever wanted to find out who he married or how many kids he had.  (This just in: social media is gross and so am I.)

However, this particular new friend did not stay silent long.  Almost immediately, my newsfeed became cluttered with tons of unapologetically offensive nonsense, posted on the hour, every hour.  In the instant I approved his internet friendship request, I had gone from completely forgetting this person existed to being visually assaulted by all the very many ways in which this person hates everyone.

For example:

Racist Magazines

And this:

Gay Athlete

And finally, la piece de resistance:

Daily CurrantAmazeballs.

It’s safe to say this dude’s Facebook activity made me a little emotional.  It made me have some feelings.  And I have obviously felt the need to express those feelings here.  However, my actual point is not that I think he might be a horrible guy (although, he totally is).

It is this: I let this person, who, upon further review, is someone who kinda scares me a little, have access to all my personal photos, my cell phone number, the names of all my friends and family, where I attend graduate school, and where I work, simply because we went to high school together nine years ago and we both have Facebook pages.  We would never be friends in the real world.  In fact, I can’t believe a person like him exists in the real world.  So, why then was I so quick to “confirm” my friendship with him?

1) Because I’m a bit of a voyeur and I really wanted to see what he’d been up to – eventually, you know, when I got around to it.  (Chances are, though, if he hadn’t started unleashing racism and homophobia all over my home page, I wouldn’t have investigated him ever.)  And:

2) I, like a lot of people (I hope), thrive on the validation that comes from having a large online presence, be that by having a lot of Facebook friends or, say, by writing a blog post that gets shared a billion times.  As those brave souls who’ve been following me for months well know, I love attention, especially in the form of internet communication.  I was so thrilled that this guy I hadn’t spoken to in ages thought to add me online that I didn’t think twice about vetting his page before confirming our connection, which, in retrospect, is at best really pathetic, and at worst really stupid.

In the end, I defriended him exactly 24 hours after accepting his request, making our brief moment of rekindled friendship, with its political tensions and ulterior motives masked in social networking, a super depressing example of (my) life in the twenty-first century.

All of this begs the question: is he the terrible person or am I?

(That was a trick question.  HE IS, obviously.)

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22 thoughts on “The 24-Hour Friendship.

  1. I’m sort of shocked about what people share on FB, both intentionally and otherwise. I don’t think I follow you on FB (maybe I do?) but there are other bloggers out there who don’t know me from Adam and I know their home addresses because they have it on their pages for all to see! People like your 24 hour friend, for all their issues, at least you knew what you had right away. It’s worse when somebody is a closet racist or homophobe or whatever. I find people as passionate as him on the right and same for people that far to the left to be super awful people. I like my place somewhere in the middle of issues.

    • Oh, totally. I used to consider myself a raging liberal crazy person, but I am totally more moderate and sensible now. Extremism in any form is insanity.

      Also, you follow Whiny Baby on FB – not me personally. (Are you impressed, and yet still not surprised, that I know that information off the top of my head?) I am really good about not putting detailed personal information anywhere online, even on my personal pages. It freaks me out to think that that dude might know where my brother is going to college or where my dad works, and those are all things he’d have to really search for in order to find.

      I’m so paranoid about it that I’ve wanted to post about something huge that’s been going on in my hometown this week, and how dramatic I feel about it, but I haven’t because then people I don’t know online would know what little town I’m from.

      I am literally amazed by what people share online. And this is coming from someone who wrote exclusively about periods and sex for three months.

    • OMG, I didn’t even think about! I wonder what you do when there are people who make you uncomfortable following your blog. There is probably nothing you CAN do. Ahhhhh – something else to panic about.

      • I’m glad to know I’m not the only one freaking about this stuff. I don’t have any personal info on my FB page either and I am constantly amazed by the things that people post. What are they thinking?

  2. Wow what a nutcase!! I have this problem as well, people from high school are always sending me friends requests. I think it’s especially funny when I wasn’t even friends with them in high school. Mine usually end up being the crazy partiers who post pictures of themselves smoking joints and going to town on a bottle of vodka, I also enjoy the explicit curse filled status updates, but anyway I luckily never got someone as crazy as this guy seems. I understand why you un-friended him so quickly I would too. And why is it always that crazies who are so active and vocal on social networking sites?

    • More time on their hands? I always struggle with whether or not to get rid of “friends” like this because I secretly love discovering how insane they are from the safety of my own home. However, sometimes it just gets to be too much.

  3. Great post!

    Random thought about the second image: the guy on the right who died and didn’t receive contact from the White House… should they have called him posthumously? Also, if he died in combat, doesn’t the White House have an award for the country’s gratitude that would be given to his family and would thus count as contact?

    Sorry, extremists fire me up. And you make a really good point about allowing people access to your information!

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