Facebook Friends, Part One

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The world is changing / Always rearranging / From birth to the end / With my Facebook friends.

It’s not that Jerry Lennart was against Facebook. He spent a goodly amount of wasted time on it. It wasn’t that it was worse than Twitter or whatever new flavor inevitably followed. It was that word that followed Facebook. Friend. He had 4,273 of them, and no man, not even Muhammad Ali, could possibly have 4,273 friends, and if they were always “friending” and “unfriending,” how could they pass muster as friends? In other words, a “Facebook friend” was a term unto itself. Jerry read somewhere, quite possibly on Facebook, that it was a “place” where one grew to loathe people he had known for his entire life and grew close to people who lived on the other side of the country. Or world, even. He’d been “friended” by a man in New Zealand whose only reason had been that he shared the name of a character in one of Jerry’s blogs.

“Blog.” What an ugly name for something that occasionally ought to be pretty. It was too close to other words – bog, cog, dog, fog, frog, hog, jog, log, (egg)nog, slog, smog – that had nothing to do with it. None of those words were even reminiscent of a blog, at least not unless it was a blog about fog.

Jerry still wrote one. He linked it on Facebook. For all his friends. And on Twitter. For all his followers. At least on Twitter, they actually were “followers.” He had 6, 157 followers, but Twitter didn’t have the two-way commitment. Jerry followed about 500 or so, and, no disrespect to those who followed him, 500 were enough.

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Over time, Jerry sorted the world, not just social media, around his own vision of the Facebook friend. It translated roughly to “acquaintance.” What was that disparaging term staunch conservatives used? RINO: “Republican in name only.” A Facebook friend was “in name only.” It didn’t meant that true friends weren’t on Facebook. They almost all were. It’s just that being a Facebook friend didn’t otherwise imply friendship. Name only. It wasn’t malignant the way RINO was. It wasn’t “that damned Facebook friend.” It was, “Oh? That guy? He’s a Facebook friend.” Not a bad thing. Probably a good thing. Just not a great thing.

Jerry’s private definition of “Facebook Friend” hadn’t even evolved out of Facebook. It had begun with a failed romance. A woman he really loved. She had humiliated him, and it was because she had been ashamed of him. She became hysterical, and he knew it was because someone had arrived at the party that she wanted to see, and that she didn’t want him to see her … with Jerry. He’d already suspected it. He’d been in denial. When it unfolded, concrete and undeniable, it crushed him for a while and impaired him for, well, it still did. It preyed on him no matter whether he prayed about it.

She was, however, still a Facebook friend.

I fell in love / My soul was lost / Anything that I could do to make / That woman get me off / I told myself / It wasn’t sin / Now I know / That she was just a Facebook friend.




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